7 lessons we learned about content marketing this year

Through years of client service (and yes, trial and error) we’ve uncovered these secrets to effective content marketing.
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Content marketing may be the current catch phrase in the marketing industry, but it certainly isn’t new. But with ever advancing technologies and ways of working, 2019 does seem to have been a watershed year for this industry. We’ve gleaned a lot about what makes content marketing effective, both through our own experience as an agency with over 20 years in the field and through the experiences of others. To save you time and frustration, here are our top lessons to fast track to success.

Lesson 1: Major changes to your offering must be carefully and thoroughly communicated
To survive tough times and stay profitable, businesses have to take tough decisions that may involve a change in strategy or discontinuation of a product. How this change is communicated and to what extent, could lose you a large portion of your audience, dent perception about your brand and ultimately, affect your bottom line if it isn’t executed correctly. Here’s an obvious tip: use your content marketing platforms as a tool to communicate these changes well in advance. Repeat the information over and over to ensure your audience receives the message. Some customers don’t like change, especially around a product or service they have used for years so make it fun and light by highlighting the upside to the change. You could also explore a gradual phasing out of a service while the new one takes effect, giving customers time to adjust to the change.

Lesson 2: Adequately investing in quality content can make or break its success
Let’s be frank. You can’t expect a foie grois campaign with a hamburger budget. If you are going to execute a content marketing campaign, take it seriously and give it the investment it requires. Heed the advice of your agency (who are experts in the field), and don’t throw them in the dog box when you deliberately go against their recommendations. The internet is like an electronic black hole; sending information out does not guarantee it will be seen by the right people unless adequate spend is put behind it to ensure this. “Digital attention is finite, competition for it is vicious and the marketing does cost. Fortunately it’s very measurable and, if managed well, delivers high ROI,” says TPP’s Digital Content Director Paige Dorkin.

Lesson 3: It’s okay to start small
Like any relationship, partnering with an agency can feel like a huge commitment that your business may not have the budget or capacity to maintain. That’s okay. Gone are the days when the client/agency relationship was all or nothing and if an agency is forcing that upon you, run! Agencies that ‘get it’ offer partnerships on a project basis, allowing you to part ways once the job is done, or grow the relationship from there if you wish.

Lesson 4: There’s a big difference between content marketing and advertising
As a marketer you have more options than ever to expand brand awareness. It’s easier to take full advantage of them all when you understand the nuances and advantages of each. Content marketing is defined by sharing brand-aligned information that answers a customer’s pain point on your own platforms. You’re creating content and your customers (both current and potential) are coming to you to get it. It is refered to as an inbound methodology because when succesful your message is delivered to the correct person in the right way and at the right time. We like to call it the campfire effect because it creates a touchpoint through each phase of the sales funnel and has a more lasting impact. Advertising is a method to influence behaviour, it’s regarded as an interruptive tactic because the advertiser sets the time and date to communicate to the customer, it offers the wow factor, the fireworks. But like fireworks, its Achilles heel is that it’s short-lived.

Lesson 5: Video needs to form a key part of your strategy
At the forefront of TPP’s video boom, Paige explains the value of video and the trend in favour of this method. “It’s our sense that there’s a conscious move to disinvest in traditional advertising media, particularly TV. Some of our clients have made this very explicit – that their short- to medium-term strategy is to substantially decrease or even completely wean off of traditional media, and to channel those budgets into performance marketing strategies. Video plays a key role in those strategies, not only because consumers now spend a very sizeable chunk of their time online watching video but also because ROI tends to be higher. For instance, on Facebook, video views campaigns frequently return the lowest cost per result (where the result is a video view) among all ad formats on the platform. Until recently, video has typically been viewed as an expensive medium.  But this impression is now changing, precisely because the ROI is so strong, and because the costs are now being compared to those of traditional media – and coming up very favourably. Instead of traditional media spend being taken for granted and video being seen as a “nice-to-have”, video is now a serious contender.”

Lesson 6: Do what’s right for your audience
Don’t get swept up in the latest trends for the sake of wanting your brand to look ‘with it’ because you risk losing a loyal audience. “What may be true in terms of general industry or tech trends may not be right for your audience right now,” says Paige. “There are still real constraints in South Africa, most notably the cost of data. Switching to a flashy new tech that’s slated as the next best thing can seriously backfire if you don’t carefully test that your audience is ready for it.”

Lesson 7: Nurture the client/agency relationship
The rapport and quality of your relationship will determine if you can get the best out of each other. “Like any relationship you need trust, respect and transparency – view the relationship with your agency as a partnership and vice versa. Together you can achieve great things,” says TPP’s MD Susan Newham-Blake. You’ve employed the agency for a reason – if they’re good they’ll help guide your strategic thinking.

Speak to us should you be looking for a project partnership or long-term relationship. We’re a content marketing agency with a proven track record and can help you achieve your key objectives.

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