The Marketing Ecosphere – Use it all to build your brand! .

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The digital ‘revolution’ has meant big change for marketers. Digital channels have emerged and grown rapidly, segmenting into micro channels as they’ve done so. For marketers, instant measurable responses, high rankings on Google and thousands of fans on Facebook are the new nirvana. Unfortunately ‘embracing digital’ for many brands has often been at the expense of cohesive brand thinking, good ideas and proper consideration of the fundamentals of marketing in their strategic thinking. A classic example of this is when many brands in recent years decided: ‘We need a mobile app’ but often didn’t consider why, what specifically they wanted it to achieve and where they saw it fitting in the context of their overall marketing strategy. The result in this case was often a mobile app that sat to the side of the main marketing strategy not really serving a logical purpose. This sort of thing is still happening as new channels come to the fore. Achieving ‘success’ via digital channels is important and it’s great that marketers have a wider range of options than ever before at their disposal. However neglecting core fundamentals of brand building and choosing channels because they seem to be ‘the thing to do’, whilst ignoring the other myriad components of the wider marketing ecosphere are big mistakes!

Brand is King (or Queen!)
Regardless of the plethora of channels and devices that are now at our disposal as marketers, marketing is still about engaging people with brands. It’s about driving sales by creating desire in consumers as many ways as possible in a strategic fashion. The final task is to get those interested consumers to go the next level and buy. At the centre of any decent marketing strategy should sit a solid set of brand values and objectives. Consumers are notoriously brand agnostic by nature. They don’t sit thinking about brands like marketers do! Therefore it is a constant challenge to keep your brand front of mind. That means you have to know what you’re trying to achieve and use all possible routes to get there.

There is a brilliant Ted Talk by Simon Sinek which sums up the ethos of brilliant marketing. This is that at the centre of every marketing strategy should sit a brand and its ‘why’. If you haven’t watched this talk by the way, click the link at the bottom of this piece and do so, as it’s a must watch for every sales and marketing professional. Once you have the why sorted for your brand, you will have a much easier time garnering consumer loyalty and increasing engagement levels. How does your marketing serve your brand’s values?

How does it enhance the brand proposition and what precisely will you consider a successful outcome? Once you have answered all of these questions, then and only then should you be considering tactics and what channels you should use.

Building a brilliant ‘joined up’ brand experience
Think cohesively! If you are marketing a car brand for example, this means thinking through all the touch points with your brand that a consumer will have and creating a seamless experience of the brand. In this example, the consumer would by rights encounter the brand through a combination of advertising -  TV, outdoor and online, press coverage, direct communications if any interest has been sparked previously – so email or collateral such as brochures, social media and in the showroom. Making sure all these touch points reiterate the brand values and core messaging and work together to drive the car buyer to the point of purchase is the key to success. To only use social media for example would be to lose out on many brand reinforcing opportunities with many of your customers.

False friends: Measurement for measurement’s sake
Of course measurement and ROI are synonymous with successful marketing and right that is too. But measurement for measurement’s sake doesn’t always tell the whole story. Acquiring 5000 Facebook likes or followers on Twitter with no thought as to where they come from or how they will be used ongoing makes their acquisition meaningless. Unless there is a considered plan for ongoing personalized marketing to carefully segmented groups of those new fans/followers, you are without doubt wasting sales opportunities. The right approach to personalised marketing is to look at which groups  responded at which stages in the campaign and how and making sure that those customers receive more of the type of communication that worked.

This last bit is the key; it may well be that more targeted Facebook advertising with a tantalizing online offer is the right way forward. Depending on your brand and the environment it exists in your best route to a certain customer segment may for example be a beautiful piece of tailored direct mail or an even more impressive in store poster and POS unit to drive the customer the last metre to the till. It’s all about achieving that vital ‘brand cut through’ in a competitive environment, it’s all marketing and it all needs to work together!

Simon Sinek Ted Talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action#t-2403

 

Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.

A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.

So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance. 

What is a Content Strategy?

It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.

But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business. 

Who are my Audience?

You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.

So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context. 

Do I need to tailor content?

As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.

 

Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:

  • What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?

  • Who are they most influenced by?

  • What voices influence their behaviour?

  • What type of content do they consume?

  • Where do they consume content and engage with brands?

Different Content, Different Objectives

 All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.

There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.

Hero Content

Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale. 

Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels. 

Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.

Hub Content

Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.

Hygiene Content

Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.

How do I manage all this?

Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.

Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.

Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.

If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.

want to speak to one of our experts?

 
Paul Stephen
Paul Stephen
Co-Founder & Joint CEO
With over 25 years in marketing, Paul is one of the UK's leading experts on digital marketing. He oversees the agency and often lectures and consults within the industry on digital and marketing related subjects and has a particular interest and skills in the travel and tourism sectors.

Paul operates nationally and internationally, helping brands to think outside the traditional horizontal and vertical channels and transform their business with creative multi-channel marketing and digital re-invention.
Paul Stephen

Paul Stephen

11 Jun 2014 - 5 minute read
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