Where Brand Marketers Come to Learn, Share and Connect

Content-MarketingAs the Brand Innovators Content Marketing Summit opens in Dallas, this area of digital branding is arguably the hottest game in town. It will be a $120 billion business by the end of the year. More than 86 percent of all brands have adopted it and 78 percent of all CMOs think it is “the future of marketing.”

It is also being closely aligned with social media. Therein lies the issue and the opportunity with content marketing. Several companies participating in the Summit are using their content marketing strategies to feed blogs and social networks with the stated goal of strengthening consumer engagement and brand perception. It takes planning from the brand and participation from customers.

For example, at AT&T, content marketing is tactical, deliberate and a fast-growing percentage of digital strategy. The most engaging content at AT&T is built exactly for that purpose. The content engages customers and the customers drive the content.

“ Organizations that aren’t evolving as a result of what customers are saying directly or indirectly in social risk being marginalized,” says AT&T Executive Director, Social & Digital Marketing John Starkweather. “On the other hand, savvy organizations build products, services, messaging and positioning in partnership with their customers; brand loyalty is strongest when a person has contributed to the actual offering.”

At Summit host company Mary Kay, content marketing connects to brand loyalty. Again social media is a key link. Forbes and Brand Keys both ranked Mary Kay’s Brand Loyalty at first in beauty brands, and tenth in all consumer brands for 2013. It social content engages both consumers and its three million-plus sales agents.

“ We can talk forever about all the ways we enrich women’s lives, but it is so much more powerful to hear it from the voice of the fans….and they let us know regularly,” says Darrell Brown, Mary Kay’s Manager, U.S. Interactive Consumer Marketing. “They are made up of our passionate sales force and loyal consumers. We are constantly learning from them as they share their love for the brand and our products. We are able to leverage the content to serve up on other channels like email. We have specifically used Facebook to crowdsource content for our ‘Facebook Fan Approved’ emails. We also learn about their love for giving back to the community and how they carry on the torch for the causes that Mary Kay supports, namely helping end violence against women and finding a cure for cancers affecting women.”

The importance of content marketing is among the messages in a new book from brand consultant Chris Malone, co-author of the “brand warmth” research done for Hershey’s last year. The book is called The Human Brand. Its central thesis is that today’s brands must use all available relationship influence to increase a sense of warmth and competence. Content, says Malone, reflects competence.

“Content as a rule is where a customer gets to know a brand better than they do through advertising,” he says. “Content is where a brand demonstrates its competence. But the problem is that so many brands can’t resist the temptation to be self-serving. Make content a symbol of expertise. Don’t expect immediate reciprocity for it. That’s the difference between effective content marketing and content that doesn’t connect with a customer.”

 

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by Brandon Gutman
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Brandon is an expert connector and seasoned business development professional. As Principal of Brand Approved, he's led the advisory to become the bridge between brand marketers and best of breed service providers that are reshaping the industry.

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