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6 steps to kickstart your content marketing initiative

Content marketing seems to have become quite the buzzword in our industry, and we are seeing a significant amount of content being generated on the subject. The effectiveness of content marketing cannot be overstated with all the initial researches in the space pointing to high level of effectiveness. According to a research by TMG Custom Media, 90 per cent of consumers find custom content useful and 78 per cent believe that organisations providing custom content are interested in building good relationships with them.

Like any other discipline that becomes a rage within our industry, a host of content marketing experts have emerged in the space – some oversimplifying the process while others massively complicating it – leaving the marketers rather confused. Content marketing, however doesn’t need to be a baffling experience for anyone. It is an emerging space, but there are a few thumb rules and best practises that can help you start.

If you have been sitting on a fence about starting off, here are six thoughts to help you get started.

#1 It is okay to start small
One of the key aspects of content marketing is that you don’t need large investment to start off. A clear strategy and a basic content plan is what you need to launch your project. The content also doesn’t need to be only in written form – it can be in the form of infographic, video, audio or just a series of visuals.

Nick Fawbert, MD of Brand New Media, Asia remarks, “It’s important to start early in the communications planning roadmap. If you’ve reached the point where the brief says ‘build awareness amongst ABC1 males 18-44’ then you’ve missed the turning.”

He points out that greatest products and services are successful because they solve problems. “If you can find the customer problem that your product solves, aggregate and explore their existing alternatives, refine your solution, your value proposition and your unfair advantage then you have all the right components to build a great story.”

Investments for entry level campaign can range from USD 25,000 to 40,000 while for bigger campaigns brands can look at spending about USD 80, 000 to USD 100,000.

#2 Create a strategy
Research has shown that the chances of success in content marketing are much higher if you have a documented strategy. Ed Pank, Managing Director of Warc Asia advises, “One of the most important things is to develop a content marketing strategy. Sounds obvious but most brands don’t have one. This must link back to the overall marketing objectives of the brand and be clearly measurable against these objectives to evaluate which area of your CM is working best and which area needs further refining.”

He says that brands need to decide whether their strategy will be campaign-led or social-led or how their content can align to the path to purchase, to drive acquisition, conversion and retention.

#3 Assume that no one’s interested in your product
The best way to guarantee success in content marketing is to assume that no one is interested in your product, only in the space you operate. Consumers can differentiate between objective content and subtle attempts to promote your brand so it’s important to spend some time finding the interests of your target audience. Pank also says, “It’s important not to overtly push a brand or product message but rather create content that is engaging and shareable and then link it back to your brand. Consider this as a value exchange with your audience. What are you offering that is so useful, engaging or entertaining that your audience will divert some of their time and attention?”

Fawbert observes that there is one hallmark of good content – that it does what it had set out to do. “If you don’t set strategic and tactical goals at the start of your content journey, then you will have no idea whether it was good or not.”

A good example of engaging and shareable content is six second science fair by GE, which created a competition where Vine users could upload their home designed science experiments in less than six seconds. This generated a raft of entertaining content which they could populate on their social media channels.

Another example from GE is ‘Instawalks’ where a select group of brand enthusiasts on Instagram visited some of their plants and documented the experience. One recent walk saw six ‘super fans’ travel to an aviation hub in Peebles, Ohio, which yielded 200,000 social engagements in the first 48 hours alone.

#4 Leverage internal knowledge and external partnerships
Whichever space you might be operating in, there is always a wealth of knowledge lying unused within your company that can be converted into great content. Regular interaction with teams across different functions is a great practise for someone looking for engaging content. There could be employees who are specialists in a subject, researches that could be tweaked into a useful feature and case studies which can be documented – all contributing to creating an exciting content plan.

According to Pank, many brands are already sitting on reams of data and insights. This can easily be transformed into content like infographics or videos that can shared via social media. Some brands are using their own employees as evangelists for generating earned media around their content.

Also external partnerships can be great way of creating interesting material. A guest post by a partner or an infographic based on a current research by a client can be a good way to create compelling content. Collaborating with experts in your industry can be a win-win situation for certain kind of brands.

#5 Make your content discoverable
Once you have created your content, making your content discoverable is the next logical step. Amplifying your content using your owned channels is always a good starting point. The standard ways of sharing content includes your company’s website, e-newsletters, social media channels, events and webinars. Apart from using owned digital and offline channels one can consider paid channels like search or native advertising for promotion. A research by Uberflip has shown that the most relevant channels for amplification for B2B (business to business) marketers are LinkedIn (83 per cent) followed by Twitter (80 per cent) and Facebook (80 per cent). Even though no clear figures are available for B2C (business to consumer) brands but a host of channels such as YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest seem to be working well.

#6 Inspiration from brands excelling in the space
It is important to assess the space and see how other brands are leveraging the range of opportunities that content marketing has thrown up. Even though brands in the West are more far more active in the space a large number of brands in Asia Pacific have begun to get launch interesting initiatives.

A good example of a B2C brand creating compelling content is ANZ in Australia which recently launched Blue Notes, a forum for insights, opinion and news about the economy and investment. In the same market, Maybelline has launched M:Edition, which provides style and beauty advice to its audience. Quiznos, the sandwich chain, launched their entertainment portal Toasty TV with a highly engaging mash-up between House of Cards and Games of Thrones. They secured 1.5 million views on You Tube in less than two weeks.

Asiya Bakht

Asiya Bakht, Director of Marketing Communications at Havas Media Group Asia Pacific, is a communications professional with more than 15 years of experience in marketing, PR, social media and journalism. She took on the role of Director of Marketing Communications for Havas Media Group APAC in 2010 and is responsible for PR and marketing initiatives for all its flagship and specialist brands across 18 markets in the region. She also supports regional new business projects through targeted communication. Her mandate is to work with industry stakeholders to communicate the vision and positioning of the agency and raise its profile and visibility. She is also responsible for internal communications and played a critical role in roll out of the rebranding launched by the group last year. Currently based in Singapore, Asiya is passionate about digital marketing with a focus on mobile, social media and content marketing. Prior to joining Havas Media Group, Asiya spent more than a decade as a print and broadcast journalist with stints at ANI- Reuters, Television Asia and Campaign Asia.