Colleen Lewis, director of 10 Plus Media content marketing agency, has written the
following opinion piece on how quality content is making a comeback as more and
more brands attract a following with customer-centric stories. Lewis writes: Have you
got your head around the buzz about content marketing yet?
It took me a while. The urgent calls for social media marketing, repurposed content,
online, below the line, search engine optimisation (SEO) content, blockbuster
blogging and so forth can be bewildering.
My “Aha!’ moment came from Doug Leather, Jo’burg-based international consultant on
customer-centric business models. The primary route to customer loyalty and sales,
says Leather, is to provide customers with a relevant and positive experience that will
have them coming back for more. Apply this principle to what you communicate to
your customers and how you do it and, ergo, you have content marketing.
Actually, it’s not quite so simple, as integration with marketing and sales strategy is
also part of the package. But it’s the customer-centric content that is the
This means providing information to your customers that is relevant for them, that is
useful and that interests them, and that targets both their needs and desires. The
Content Marketing Institute (http://contentmarketinginstitute.com) says that instead
of pitching your products and services, content marketing involves delivering
information that makes your readers and viewers more intelligent (or better informed,
I would say). By publishing content that repeatedly and regularly engages their
attention you can convert your customers into followers, thereby creating a channel
for driving sales.
So how does this work in practice? Every free e-book publisher and blogger is
practising content marketing by delivering useful and relevant information at no
charge. Those consumers who subscribe, sign up or download become the strong
prospects whom they can target with sales information.
Many South African companies are taking the lead with great content marketing
strategies. Some have been around for a while already, such as brand publications
like Edgars Club Magazine and Woolworths Taste, which have become powerful
marketing tools, supplying aspirational lifestyle information to their customers.
More recent examples include Capitec Bank’s phenomenally successful #AskWhy
Twitter campaign that engaged with consumers about their banking experiences, and
responded to conversations with relevant facts and content. Twitter content
marketing has also worked extremely well for Henley Business School which increased
its Twitter followers from around 600 to over 6,000 in 9 months by engaging an expert
business writer to drive its Twitter conversations. Another innovation is the brand
platform for television created by communications agency Kaelo Engage, which gives
companies the opportunity to tell their CSI brand stories in the documentary show
Kaelo-Stories of Hope.
Whatever the strategy, the crux of content marketing is top quality writing that
addresses the issues your audiences care about and tells your brand story
subliminally at every content touch point. It’s a marketing medium that calls for
writers who are also marketing strategists, researchers, data analysts, brand-smiths
and investigative journalists, just for starters.
We copywriters will attest that this is exactly what we have always been doing and
that it’s long overdue that businesses recognise the value we have to offer. For us
the comeback of content is good news and we anticipate a surge in demand for
quality writing services. But perhaps we should ditch the term “writer’ and position
ourselves as content marketing professionals. Hmmmm… this calls for a new content