Imagine two dates.
The first begins:
“Hi! I’m stylish and worldly. I hang out with very cool friends. I’ve won a few trophies, but really I’m good at what I do because I’m passionate about it. Stick with me and you will have a fabulous adventure.”
The second like this:
“Nice to see you. I hear you like to travel. Tell me about that. Where next?”
“Paris, wonderful! I have a few friends who live there. If you’d like I can connect you– one’s a chef, another is a designer and the other a book vendor. That guy has great stories. He told me once about this couple …”
Which one gets to date number two?
Welcome to Content Marketing 101.
The term content marketing has become buzzy in recent years. But what really is it? I get asked that a lot, most recently by the Washington Post, and here’s what I said.
“Content marketing is like a first date. If all you do is talk about yourself, there won’t be a second date.”
Likewise, as a brand, if all you do is talk about how great you are and provide no value to the consumer, they won’t engage. Brands need to understand that it’s no longer a one way world where you get to tell the consumers all about yourself and they have to listen. Thanks to technology, consumers are now in control – and they choose when, where, and how they interact with brands.
Content marketing is just one part of our overall global marketing strategy, and within it there are two main types of content: informational or entertaining (or a mix of both).
It’s how we engage customers and potential customers so that we add value in their lives (by informing or entertaining) first.
Then, once a relationship is established (a value exchange) they will in turn create value for us. Brands have the opportunity to stop interrupting what consumers are interested in and become what they are interested in by providing content and creative that informs, entertains, and connects with them emotionally.
Case in point. Two Bellmen, a brand film I produced for JW Marriott is a 17-minute action comedy about two bellmen who save the day that we produced with JW Marriott. It wasn’t strictly meant to entertain an audience or to teach them about the brand/hotel as a character in the story.
Result: After just a few weeks, we’ve had over five million views on YouTube. Every one of those viewers is not going to immediately book a room at the JW; but they will form a new appreciation of the company that made them laugh, or gasp or be able to share a cool piece of entertainment with their friends. If you add value over and over, customers have a positive association with the brand, and recall the brand next time they are looking to book a room.
And my latest original film, French Kiss, shot in location in Paris, where the Marriott Hotels brand plays a leading character, has already received more than 7 million views on YouTube alone. Views are great, but we’ve also built a community around the film who are inspired to travel.
To recap, here are three of my top tips on how to create content that builds communities that drive commerce:
1. Your content must be relatable and in context to what the consumer is looking for and your industry. As an example, we want to own the entire “travel journey” and become the world’s favorite travel company. Content is just one way we do that, so we produce content around all the experience and reasons people travel. What space do you want to “own” as a brand and what’s authentic?
2. Your content must add value. It must always inform or entertain or engage the viewer/reader. I always ask our creative and brand teams to take off their “marketing hat” and ask themselves – how does this creative add value – does it solve a problem or make someone feel a certain way? Would you engage with it as a consumer?
3. Your content must elicit an emotional response. It must connect with consumers psychologically and make them feel something. They want you to educate them, intrigue them..help solve a problem, or simply make them laugh.. If you can do that, consumers will respond to you, talk about you, like you, and come back for more.
Content marketing, as I define it, is really another form of service. It’s about serving a customer something valuable and ultimately creating a raving brand fan.