Business | 17.12.2013

From brand owners to brand publishers

When Campaign Middle East asked Dimitri Metaxas, Managing Director of Resolution MENA, how the region could take its place on the global digital space, the answer was simple. A solid content strategy. Below are some of the key takeaways from Dimitri’s piece in Campaign’s 2013 Digital Essays:

BREVITY IS KEY

With the onset of technologies, media fragmentation and clutter, cutting through is not only harder, it’s also more expensive. Yet, it isn’t even enough. Media savviness has led to consumers resisting traditional advertising methods and captive audiences are truly a thing of the past. People now have shorter attention spans and more reasons to be distracted than ever before. If there is one thing that people don’t mind being distracted from, it’s advertising. They now have all they need to shortcut interruptive advertising formats and go straight to what they spend their time with in media: content.

A CASE FOR CONTENT

While most marketers will agree that “content is king”, they largely continue with their interruptive advertising campaigns. They regard content merely as an environment in which their brand will advertise, almost as bait for consumers to get trapped in the adbreak. For them, content is context. Yet, content can be so much more. For a start, it will increasingly define a brand value. Through its recent algorithmic updates, Google has shifted its ranking focus from link building towards original content. In other words, a strong brand will be one with lots of content around it. Brand owners, in the social media landscape, have already recognized that they’re starting to lose control over what their brands stand for to consumers. A brand is increasingly defined by what people say about and do with it in the public domain. A content strategy is marketers’ response to this trend and a successful one can give a brand access to higher levels of influence, authenticity and data that traditional marketing methods cannot possibly deliver.

DON’T BE AFRAID OF CONTENT

Admittedly, creating great (even good) content is not easy. It requires commitment, inventiveness and, at times, subtlety. These are not qualities that come naturally to an industry that is used to shouting, short-lived campaign bursts and basic promotions. It’s also a new language. Planning marketing activities usually means defining measurement currencies, establishing KPIs and forecasting outcomes. As content is about attracting, rather than targeting people, and relies on qualitative rather than quantitative attributes, it’s no surprise that marketers hesitate to step out of their ‘comfort zones’, even if it clips their wings in the long run.

CREATE AN ECOSYSTEM

Every content strategy will be unique and tailored to each brand. However, while there isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, there are several steps worth bearing in mind when you start on your brand publishing strategy. One platform won’t be enough, so invest in and nurture a brand ecosystem online. This extended community of interconnected platforms and sites will guide consumers through the brand content and gather valuable intelligence from their interactions and the resulting dialogue at the same time.

WELCOME TO THE NEWSROOM

Sustaining this ecosystem requires the marketing team to become more like a content newsroom and less like a planning department. Rather than producing set annual roadmaps with fixed campaign schedules, their work will more an ‘always-on’ commitment to developing and distributing fluid content across various formats and platforms. To achieve this, companies will need to recruit enthusiastic and imaginative content creators, internally and externally. This ecosystem will thrive on diverse talents and backgrounds as the best content case studies come from brands that hired people with a content creation, rather than an industry, expertise. External content innovators will also need to operate with the license to be creative with both brand and products, as there is much to learn from every experience.

The hardest lesson to learn in this process is that brands need to put their consumers first and remember they’re here to make things better for people. Subtlety needs to overcome the temptation of self-promotion. For content to score with consumers, it has to add value to their life before it can elevate the brand in their eyes. So tone down the salesman in you and bring out the friend. They’ll thank you for it.

If you would like to read more about content marketing, read this. It is one of the most comprehensive studies on the subject.

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Dimitri Metaxas
RED – Specialist Companies at OMG