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With Content Marketing taking shape in the digital landscape, the Content Marketing Association’s International Content Marketing Summit was the perfect place to get the very latest developments in the broader world of content marketing. Let’s take a closer look.
The show kicked off with an opening speech by Patrick Fuller, CEO of the CMA. He spoke of the virtues of Content Marketing, as well as the CMA’s own journey with their rebrand from The Association of Publishing Agencies to meet the growing needs of brands – a move towards Content Marketing. He explained that the theme of the day will revolve around brand narratives and storytelling. He then threw over to BBC Breakfast’s Stephanie McGovern, who hosted the event.
Session One – Anticipate: The Future of Content
Jon King, Managing Director, Story Worldwide
Jon started by explaining that the world has entered the post-advertising age. We live in an opt-in culture. People choose to watch or listen, and their behaviours are dictated by their friends and family. This was backed up by a study from Neilson:
What influences your purchasing decision?
This is not advertising at all – it’s about people they know, and people in their networks.
He used the example of Michelin as a great way to advocate content marketing. What started out as a guide to places to eat and stay near a garage whilst your car can be fixed, after all, cars were very unreliable back in the early 1900s, has now evolved into the gold standard of restaurants. All because they knew their market and created content for that market.
He recommended ‘The Hero with a thousand faces’ – Joseph Campbell. Contained within is a great formula dictating how to tell a story – a formula that has worked within movies, films and all sorts of storytelling.
The most valued and shared stories reveal unfulfilled needs and desires. Authenticity is the most important thing we can deliver for our brands – we can no longer say something that is not true. The best way we can do this is to find out what your audiences care about – and tell a story to them.
He left us with three key points:
1. Influence the influencers. He then relates this to Coca-Cola’s 2020 Content Marketing plan, and how this is hugely dictated by consumers stories and how this influences the content they create.
2. An emotionally satisfying story platform
3. In a world of expensive and inefficient big media, you need to act differently.
Melanie Howard, Executive Chair, Future Foundation
Melanie explains that a better understating of the future of content marketing can better shape the content we create.
The big question, anticipation Vs creation: “They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” Not dodging, but driving. She very cleverly explains that the future is very complex with a lot changing at different rates – there are certain areas that change at varying rates. For example, infrastructure and policy changes slowly, social-economic areas change more quickly, but the pop and mass culture change rapidly.
She highlighted that sociology emphasises enduring values. Capitalising on new technology, staying ahead of the game, but appealing to enduring values. Commercially it is about anticipating customer needs:
1. Magic Nostalgic – creating an emotional connection – emphasising the authenticity and heritage of a brand. Very powerful in a time of austerity.
2. End of Adventure – we are so well informed now that there is a desire for risk – it’s about creating challenges and opening up real experiences.
3. Gamification – building in the lessons of the gaming industry, give people reason to play the game.
4. Native Marketing – brining the idea of social networking and brand advocates together. It’s all about bringing people into the creativity of a brand.
5. Murdered by Modernity – a reaction to technology and recognising that we desire the need to switch off, taking a trip without your technology.
Matthew Guest, Senior Manager, Deloitte Digital, Deloitte
The future of media is inextricably linked with the future of technology.
Despite going through a recession, we have never before seen such a rapid adoption of consumer technologies. The reason behind this is rooted in its history. Mathew took us back on a historical journey of computers, after which he came up with his own theory, “in 2012 your living will boast more computers than cushions”. Whilst it’s not actually true, there is some merit in what Mathew was saying.
Technology offers a thrill that is much cheaper than buying a car or going on an expensive holiday. The cost of a colour television from the 1970s will get you more bang for your buck today; you get much better value for money when it comes to technology now.
Mathew explains that the future of technology is wearable, for example Google Glass, which has captured this zeitgeist. Unconnected moments will soon be a rarity. This means we need to be part of this on-going narrative. Mathew left us with his rules for branded content:
Key note: Dave Trott, Executive Creative Director, CSTTG
Creativity – whatever field you’re in, people use the buzz word ‘creativity’, but no one knows what it is. Dave differentiated between what creativity actually is:
Form follows function. Start off with a function. To fulfill a function you need a problem. Solve a problem. But we need to change it from a problem we can’t solve into a problem we can solve – so go upstream and turn it into something solvable.
First thing to understand is that 90% of advertising is wasted. Dave explains that the channels used to communicate to the consumer are ever changing – the only thing that is constant is the consumer. It is the consumer that turns something into viral. So the consumer is the media.
Our conversations are driven by the following formula:
We need two languages – one for the punters. Turning complicated things into simple things; and another language for executives, turning simple things into complicated language.
He advocates being different. Using Gestalt psychological principles, Dave explains that the human mind repositions things into groups – to simplify. Based on the principle that as humans we group things (adverts into) sections, a different advert won’t just stand out amongst the plethora of other adverts (for example one out of twenty), but rather it will stand out from an entire group of the other adverts, so it’s more like 50% of the adverts.
So being different is what smaller clients need to do. You need to be smarter. He spoke about opinion formers, targeting towards them, and the formers will tell the opinion followers – classic word of mouth.
Dave then explained that to be different you need to reframe the problem. Using examples he explained how this works. For example, Sainsbury’s wanted additional revenue of £3 million in two years, from new business. Instead of focussing on getting new business in, a young planner suggested getting existing shoppers to spend more. This repositioned the problem. The creative team came up with ‘try something new’, and Sainsbury’s achieved £3 million in one year, not two.
Session 2 – Plan: The Ideal Content Strategy
Brice Bay, Chairman & CEO, EnVeritas Group and Sofitel and Geoffray Maugin, VP Global Marketing, Sofitel Luxury Hotels
A big change in dynamics of the way users consume content marketing. The real impact of content marketing is affecting what Google call the Zero Moment of Truth. Brands have a responsibility to be factual and authentic – at its base line it’s about telling the truth.
Consumers are driving local conversations. A strategy to target local audiences:
1. Digital competitive analysis
2. Multilingual keyword research
3. Local – native resources
4. Local visits and interviews
5. Brand consistency
Most brands want the following from their Content Marketing campaigns:
Some good tips from Brice include:
Geoffray Maugin from Sofitel then showed us their new website (after a bit of a delay, thanks to the perils of modern-day technology) and introduced all of their on-page content that was not only on-brand but well informed for their audience. But he stressed that you need to have the right processes in place to make it work.
Arjun Basu, Content Director, Spafax
Arjun talked about his airline clients, and the challenges they faced.
Jan Rezab, CEO & Co-founder, Socialbakers
There are 3 phases to brands using social media. Most specialists are in phase two, but want to be in phase three:
It is only once you get to phase three that you’re taking full advantage of social media.
Platforms matter. Depending on what your brand is and what products and services you’re offering, you need to know which social media platform to use. Additionally, social media has to be monitored very closely. Jan then talked about:
Engaging content has to be:
Top metrics in social media:
Return on engagement = higher engagement = higher reach = higher ROI
How do you know if you’re in phase 3?
Session 3 – Monetise: Making Money Out Of content
Digital has changed everything. Most content is free, but what is the content challenge?
Consumers will pay for content that is relevant to them, that is quality and that is exclusive. What brand values are focussed towards the consumer? You’ll need two of the flowing:
In an ideal world:
Make your content accessible, and just enough so it keeps them wanting more. In terms of making money from your content, here’s what Nicola and Marie had to say:
Toby Guiducci, Digital Sales Manager, The Met Office
Toby’s presentation was based on his work at the MET office. He explained that he was driven to providing the UK with a public weather service – with the aim of being a global leader. In addition to their public weather service, the MET have their commercial services too. With the two different services, they identified a content gap.
This content gap was filled with what the MET Office called ‘Pollen’. The objectives of Pollen were to:
The way they achieved this was through standard digital tactics, including SEO, Social Media and Video development. So how did they monetise their content?
And the results spoke for themselves. Toby showed us increases in both web traffic as well as the top positions for their main keywords in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
Catherine Toole, CEO & Founder, Sticky Content
Catherine took a slightly different approach to the day’s proceedings. Instead of preaching about the macro strategies, she wanted to focus on the micro – the tiny details that can make all the difference. If you’re interested in seeing results, make sure you do the little things well. So what does she mean by this?
Using a litany of other examples, Catherine showed us that by slightly changing the copy, this can have a huge impact on conversions.
But why does this work? What we can we learn to better enhance our own conversions? Call-to-actions that infer an outcome work well. When you can model an outcome, you will tend to find uplift. We were then presented with a very complex formula, which did not mean much to anyone, however it did contain some very important factors:
Session 4: Engage: The Power of the Story
Nick Morris, CEO, Canvas8
Comparing Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy with James Bond’s Skyfall – he told a tale of two spies, and the way we can tell stories. TTSS was a more traditional story, which built slowly. Skyfall started off with an impact, with the story unravelling thereafter.
Sara Cremer, Managing Director, Redwood and Claire Hilton, Head of Advertising, Media & Content -UKRBB Marketing, Barclays
People remember stories; they do not remember bold facts. Stores are for the benefit of the listener, not the teller. So first of all, you need to know your audience.
What are your customers really thinking? Whilst the brand might be trying to selling, the customer will be thinking something else. So you need to find the content hotspot, the area between the brand message and what the customer is really thinking.
Make the right story central to the proposition
The Power of telling the right story at the right time – they used a good example of A level results day, whilst most banks focussed on students, Barclays focussed their content around the parents, and their experiences of the traumatic day.
The most powerful stories are those that connect on an emotional level – emotion = action.
Stories can be powerful, but only if they’re relevant to the right audience.
Session 5: Create: The Vital Role of the Content Creative
Introduction from Marie O’Riordan, Editorial Director, John Brown
This session was introduced to us by Marie O’Riordan. She explained that we, as the UK, are influential in soft power (the ability to attract and co-opt) and uses Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony of the Olympics as a great example of that.
She then explained the role of the editor and how powerful they can be. She explained about using creativity to do things differently – eco edition of Marie Claire, as well as putting the first male on the front cover, David Beckham. She then handed over to the speakers of this final session:
Steve Watson – The Church of London
An interesting talk which focussed on where The Church of London, a creative agency that publishes two magazines called ‘Little White Lies’ and ‘Huck’, has come from.
Everything they have learned is from creating these magazines. As a result they’ve started doing Content Marketing for big brands. They really evolved with technology, so they got themselves a website and an iPhone app.
He explained that they have moved well away from just being a magazine, but rather a platform based around you, the movie goer. Steve then showed us their vision of using new technology to create truly personalised content. For example, if you’re walking past a cinema, you can be reminded about a film you desperately want to see, as well as the ability to pay for a ticket (perhaps at a reduced rate) there and then.
Lisa Smosarski, Editor, Stylist
A proud print publisher, Lisa showed us some key issues of Stylist magazine, and explained why they worked so well:
They use lateral thought to create something truly different. She left us with 5 golden rules:
1. Interaction with their readers at all times
2. Pushing the boundaries in every issue
3. Event issue
4. Work with other creative experts
5. Never rest on their laurels
Marcus Webb, Co-director, the Slow Journalism Company and Editor, Delayed Gratification
Marcus explained that being niche is a great way to create engaging content.
The importance of finding your niche: HBO
HBO vs the rest of the US television market. With their extended remit, HBO produced original programming, such as The Sopranos. This spawned a number of programmes that were commissioned for its niche audience, the Wire being an example. Not worried about appealing to the masses, but rather appealing to your niche.
Stories Others Have Missed
Delayed Gratification is the pioneer of slow journalism, publishing stories 3 months after they have broken. They know they are not going to be the first for breaking news. Twitter is able to broadcast fast news first, not publishers. They thought, if we can’t be first, let’s be proud at being last – visiting stories three months afterwards, to see what the aftermath is.
They have a lot of data to process, so they turn to infographics to help create content around that data.
To conclude, the advantages of slow journalism:
Marcus explained they are now working with big brands to help them find their niche; Spotify, Opta, Twitter Trends Map. Using data to create content around the brand – this helps them to find a niche topic. Taking dry data and telling a story around this.
It’s no longer the survival of the fittest, its survival of the best fit.
Final Keynote: Matthew Taylor, CEO, Royal Society of Arts – How content can inspire change
Mathew believes there is a gap between our aspirations and our trajectory. He asked whether what we do enhances human capability? What is the intent of the content we are looking to create?
There is a distinction between ‘producerlly content’ and ‘consumerlly content’ (these phrases were made up by the speaker):
However there can be good ‘producerlly content’, and bad ‘consumerlly content’. To what extend do we as content creators create content that is ‘consumerlly’? This was the final thought of the day.
So, some fantastic talks at the CMA’s International Content Marketing Summit, with plenty of food for thought amongst the plethora of content professionals in attendance. Roll on the 2013 summit.
Samantha Noble is well known within in the search industry, she even won the UK Search Personality 2016 at the UK Search Awards in November. This year, she continues to make an impact on the industry by judging not only one, but three, prestigious industry awards.