I just returned from a conference in Las Vegas where I saw Gary Vaynerchuk speak to a massive group about new ways to reach customers with marketing. He noted that the number one thing that connects all of us today is we’re all battling for someone’s attention. But in doing so, many marketers are missing the boat. Vaynerchuk said it floors him to see that there are marketers who today, in 2014, are still running marketing programs like it was 2010, 2007 or (God forbid) even 2002! It’s time to move forward!
Marketers and brands have been telling their stories since the dawn of newspapers (and later, television) to audiences. Almost 80 percent of all brands are using content marketing in their overall marketing strategies, so something must be working right for consumer brands, small businesses, government groups and the coffee shop down the street. They are nearly all using content marketing to tell their stories using a mix of online and offline communications tools. But are these efforts reaching the audiences where they are? Let’s take a look at how things have changed.
That Was Then
In the old days (pre-2000), a company could communicate messages to its target audience using a wide array of options. Companies’ marketing budgets were parceled out using traditional or offline methods, like PR events, trade shows, marketing roadshows, print ads in magazines and newspapers, TV or radio ads, digital banner ads on web sites and email marketing methods. Many of these activities still form the core of countless company’s marketing strategies.
But the advent of social media and content marketing has introduced a whole dimension for marketers across the spectrum of industries. Full-on integrated marketing and content sharing activities should include using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, YouTube, Pinterest and other platforms. This is crucial to how marketers reach targeted users to build up the one-on-one relationships that are so important in today’s digital economy.
Staying on Point to Reach Audiences
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as such:
“…a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
The definition works well, but putting it into practice is where some marketers are missing out. If a marketer’s customers are active on Instagram and Twitter, wouldn’t that be where a marketer would hit it? Why instead are some marketers still clinging to solely TV ads (when less people are watching) or email newsletters (sitting unopened in the Promotions tab in Gmail)? Even if those methods might still work for some businesses to reach a certain audience, it’s now 2014, and there are new rules.
It is here that Vaynerchuk’s surprise is warranted: With their status quo approach from years past, some marketers’ efforts might not work for today’s increasingly disparate web audiences. While admirable in its phrasing, that definition literally re-ups the age-old goal of driving a profitable interaction by meeting your audiences where they live and work. It is here that Vaynerchuk’s surprise is warranted: Some companies have maintained their status quo approach from years past, and maintaining that marketing today might not work for today’s fragmented audiences.
This is Now
One brand reaching out with exemplary content marketing is Taco Bell. In its most recent media blitz for its new breakfast offerings, Taco Bell moved content through a variety of marketing channels, including mobile, online, TV and social. The company is on the micro-video channel Vine with its new messaging to reach its young audiences there. It launched the Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos on Vine and Twitter last year, and today has over 100,000 Vine followers and nearly 1.23 million Twitter followers.
Another brand that’s leveraged social media and content marketing in exciting ways is burrito chain Chipotle. The company has been on a mission to spread its message of ‘Food with Integrity‘ in recent years. If you recall, the brand’s video on sustainable agriculture called ‘The Scarecrow’ went viral last fall, and today counts 12.5 million YouTube views. It even spawned off its own Scarecrow game app.
Now Chipotle has really moved the needle by taking that initial early content marketing work, and building a satirical comedy series around it. Hulu has started to show the brand’s 4-episode series called ‘Farmed and Dangerous‘ that the press release described as a series that “satirically explores the world of industrial agriculture in America.”
Not only is this content entertaining, but it’s relevant to Chipotle’s overall mission “to change the way people think about and eat fast food.” Using that entertainment factor and one-on-one relationship building is helping to define new ways of using content marketing in 2014. Today’s storytelling through content marketing can reach niche audiences in interesting ways, and drive profitability from the campaigns. That’s today’s content marketing in a nutshell.
Consumer brands are one thing; how are B2B brands moving forward with content marketing? Recent surveys have shown that about 73 percent of B2B companies are doing either ‘more’ or ‘significantly more’ content marketing in 2014 than in 2013. However, these B2B enterprise marketers are struggling with content marketing strategies that engage their users on a regular basis. That could spell short-term losses for B2B companies if they don’t use a well-thought out content plan and some creative insights from a solid content marketing agency.
What is your brand or company mission? How can you use storytelling, creative instincts, and out-of-box thinking to reach new customers and create new business? It’s time to move forward with content marketing, and really push some creative thought toward your actionable goals. If your brand is feeling stagnant online against your competition, then call us at Vertical Measures to help us make your brand come to life in unexpected ways.