My long-overdue sequel seeks to address the complexity of content as a searchable, educational, and/or motivational tool for branding when strategy calls for a marketing “pull.” But first, let’s establish that most marketing, even that from the seemingly most enlightened ad pros still relies on market timed offers and the big “push” in ever decreasing effectiveness. We have no one to blame but ourselves.
According to current research in the subject, brands are essential to a well-orchestrated content marketing performance suggesting that “pull” has gained favor. Brands act as filters or gatekeepers for consumers who need the articulation of a simple promise and someone or something to cut down on the avalanche of contextual content we’re tempted to sift through. Do we expect the consumers of product driven content to evaluate ethics and objectivity? The aforementioned research goes on to assert that brands actually matter less with long form content because it is deeper and more engaging. When content is brief, even superficial brands make useful filters of facts, features and especially benefits from a trusted source. Both play a role when content is the vehicle.
Another way to look at this is when the consumer’s pre-existing impressions of a brand becomes more meaningful when accepting content on a mission. This notion of someone else simplifying some of the marketing noise by intent isn’t new. It was first identified from journalism itself (the original long form content) by Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., former publisher of The New York Times. Mr. Sulzberger was quoted as saying, “You’re not buying news when you buy the Times; you’re buying judgment.” The problem with most short form content practiced is that so few practice it in favor of content farms and factories.
Consumers, either in B to C or B to B fall back on a perception of brand trust earned over time. The look, feel, tone and familiarity of a brand in its content all play a role. But it can’t be rushed or abbreviated. Often, design plays an even larger role than sourcing of content and one we might not imagine or expect. That’s because as consumers, we’ve been conditioned to use quickly attainable visual and textual ques out of necessity.
So to bring this thread back to what people see or choose to see when consuming content, expectations formed prior to consumption matter a lot! And those expectations evolve with each brand interaction thereby making adherence to brand values and identity so vital. Each slice of content has the potential to enhance and support a positive brand experience or conversely create a predisposition for dislike without the brand even realizing it.
Many of us still welcome that brand gatekeeper in the presence of ever more “cookie cutter “or irrelevant content being pushed out by marketers. Content requires a balance of depth and clarity. Too often still when we need to discern authority and trustworthiness from a pressured pitch or flimsy fact we are left largely to our own devises. Content marketing gives us a great deal of freedom in exchange for revealing more about ourselves and our preferences as long as marketers stop acting like Mad Men.