Date Posted: December 20, 2017Reading time: 4 minutes
We’re working in an extremely interesting time in advertising. Don Draper and Peggy Olson got to navigate the rise of TV in a world of traditional media, and now we get to navigate the rise of content creation in an ever-changing, always-growing digital landscape. Though the industry might not look the same to us as it did to Don and Peggy, with this changing of times we, too, get to experience our own ad age shift.
In this new age, advertising, media, and journalism are converging at an unstoppable rate. And with the all the noise this creates, it’s time for brands to challenge the status quo and to stand out with innovative and non-traditional marketing solutions. As consumer attention is divided across channels and devices, it’s more and more difficult to grab their attention with paid ads. Consumers are smarter, more connected, and more informed than they once were, and as a result, they want and expect more from a brand. And rightly so. In the words of Craig Davis, former CCO of J. Walter Thompson, “We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in”.
Enter, content marketing. The word content implies value — it suggests we’re providing something of worth to the consumer, and value is a commodity that means so much more to this generation of purchasers and brand supporters than ever before.
So, what is content marketing? According to the Content Marketing Institute, it is a “strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action”.
Now that we’ve clarified the what, let’s talk about the ‘why’.
The rise of social and digital media and ease of access has changed how we consume brand messages and interact with brands. It’s changed who helps inform our buying decisions and which brands we support. Gone are the days where traditional mass media and celebrity endorsements alone could sway our purchasing decisions. We are a more discerning audience, and we look for value from the brands we interact with, over and above their basic product or service offering.
In my experience, the three best reasons for your brand to embrace content marketing are accessibility, influence, and storytelling. The three go hand in hand, but let’s talk about each one by way of three Trampoline client examples.
When we worked with Halifax Shopping Centre to update their brand platform, we put in place an editorial content plan to help enhance HSC’s position as the trusted style expert in the region. Here’s an example: high/low pairings of products available at HSC, coming out monthly. With this content, HSC made its brand and product accessible to the consumer. For HSC, its consumer found more than just a product offering. By hand picking trends perfect for the season, HSC also offered the consumer education, showing just how easy it is to fit certain products into their lifestyle.
For the NSLC’s holiday campaign, we partnered with social influencers to help spread the word that the NSLC can give you everything you need to be a great host this season. Equipping them with recipes, drink pairings, and all the know-how they need to throw a fabulous holiday soirée, the influencers, in turn, shared these tips with their audiences. With this content, the consumer found utility. Consumers trust and are influenced by real people, so leveraging an influencer to grab the ears of their audience can pay off in spades for a brand. If you take care in choosing who you partner with, ensuring it’s an authentic and genuine connection with both your brand and your target, this relationship can help give your brand clout and credibility – and a reach beyond its own.
Now, let’s talk about storytelling. Storytelling has always been intrinsic to advertising, but with visual media being more prevalent than ever there are so many more ways to tell these stories. Since partnering with Tourism Nova Scotia two years ago, we spend about 5 months of the year travelling around the province, working with local operators, to capture hundreds of photographs and hours of video that can be used to help tell stories about our province. By way of entertainment (and of course much more than that), the brand hopes to inspire more travelers to come explore Nova Scotia’s untamed beauty.
However, as much opportunity as this new ad age presents, it’s not without challenge. And the biggest one for brands and marketers will be getting one step ahead of this content-driven environment when it inevitably becomes overbearingly cluttered. What is the next best way to stand out amidst all the noise? It’s exciting to think the answer is something not yet here, but just around the corner, waiting to be tackled in some future boardroom by the next Don Draper and Peggy Olson.