Is your content the best it can be?
By Rhys Taylor
Like any marketing buzzword, ’content’ is ripe for interpretation. If you scan Google, you’ll get answers ranging from predictable to ridiculous—with the status quo describing it as ‘text, video, audio and imagery’. It’s a good start, but we think there’s much more to it.
Here’s our take on what content is, what it means for brands today, and how you can begin creating the very best content for your customers.
Content: vessel vs substance
The first distinction we need to make is the difference between ‘format’ and ‘content’. The descriptors above—text, video, audio and imagery—are formats. Think of them as vessels that must contain or convey something.
That ‘something’ is content. The substance.
It’s the substance that you need to focus on, as this is what will grab your customer’s attention … or lose it. So how do you work out what it should be made up of? As discussed in a previous post, we use six content currencies—information, education, inspiration, entertainment, utility and experience—to identify what type of content your customers need, and when.
In a recent presentation at Goafest 2016, Tara Marsh, Global Head of Content, Wunderman, explains these content currencies in relation to the idea of the value exchange. How do you deliver true value to a customer in an environment in which the competition a brand faces isn’t from other brands but from “ordinary, awful, amazing, everyday life”? How do you disrupt someone’s Facebook feed, for example, with a piece of content that they genuinely want to engage with?
"To win the time and attention of your audience, you have to give them something in exchange. The content currencies are different ways we can provide this value." Tara Marsh
The two content currencies people often struggle to wrap their heads around—but which can represent great opportunity for customer engagement—are utility and experience. Unlike educational content, for example, which is pretty self-explanatory, these are more abstract. But when you consider them in terms of value exchange, they make perfect sense.
Let’s look at some examples.
Think of an airline’s mobile app (the vessel or format), which gives a customer the ability to choose their seat or specify a vegetarian meal pre-flight. These choices (the utility content) represent great value to the customer. If it means a more comfortable flight for them, then it’s highly likely that they’ll want to engage with the content.
Or what about a corporate event like your annual customer summit? Yes, the event itself is made up of keynote presentations and breakout sessions (which fall under education), vendor exhibitions (inspiration) and that party on the final night you don’t talk about when you’re back in the office (entertainment). But, by wrapping each of these elements under the umbrella of ‘experience’, you ensure the overall initiative is serving customer needs in relation to your broader strategy.
Once you start thinking about content at a higher level, you begin to see how it completes the customer experience. It encompasses everything from a TVC or OOH placement, to the monthly statement email you send your customer—which is why you need to be so judicious in your creation and dissemination of your content.
The attention dollar
Imagine every customer holds an ‘attention dollar’ balance with you. Your objective is to keep that balance healthy.
So, when you push out a piece of content that engages the customer, they get another dollar in the bank. On the flip side, if you keep bombarding them with unnecessary or meaningless content, then their balance diminishes.
Once you’ve lost their attention entirely, it’s hard to win it back.
This concept of maintaining a healthy ‘attention dollar’ balance ties in naturally with Wunderman’s content currencies and the importance of the value exchange.
The content audit
Now that you have a picture of what content is and what it can be, it’s time to take a good, hard look at your own content. Is it delivering true value to your customers?
If you’re not sure, then a content audit becomes a must-do before you invest any more time and money in creating. This audit should cover three key areas, and forms the foundation on which to build your content strategy:
Baseline: your own performance
Evaluate your existing content to see if there is room for improvement. Assess what’s working well, be honest about what isn’t.
Benchmark: your competitors
Put your performance into context. What are they talking about that you also need to be talking about? What are they not talking about that you can seize upon? Be careful here of avoiding the ‘me too’ content—don’t follow blindly down your competitors’ content paths.
Best-practice: global leaders
Look beyond your industry to see how others are delivering brilliant content that delivers true value. After all, how do you expect to disrupt your industry simply by comparing yourself to your main rivals?
Based on the insights you get from your content audit, you’re ready to tackle the next step in your content plan. We’ll look at how you can better understand your audience, and start to formulate a strategy in the next content post.
Meanwhile, if you need help with a content audit, get in touch today.