Unless you’ve just returned from a 10-year, internet-free sabbatical, you are undoubtedly aware of the branded content marketing boom. Publications are preaching it. Marketers are demanding it. Agencies are racing to create it. And consumers are gobbling it up. No wonder “content” is the industry’s biggest buzzword.
The problem is, most of the buzz is about channels and formats, not purpose. Which is crazy because content can play a variety of wildly valuable roles, including one that brand advertising and sales promotions generally can’t; it’s one of the few tools that we marketers have that can directly intercept consumers during their research process. You know, the shopping part of the purchase process – when they’re actually looking for information about all the stuff we’re trying to sell them.
Recipes, how-to videos, virtual tours, influencer testimonials, decision trees, listicles and instructional videos do more than inform curious consumers, they influence a brand’s place in the consumer’s consideration set. They can even expedite and increase the value of a purchase. And not just at home, but while consumers choose between products in the aisles of a retailer, while choosing restaurants while riding shotgun in a car, or while planning a vacation from their desk at work. Pinterest, YouTube, Amazon, even brand sites, become platforms that bridge the gap between advertising and transaction.
If you ask me, and let’s pretend you did, content is the new foundation for cost-efficient brand building and campaign development. We’ve even won a couple of North Amercian Effies doing it. Shameless agency plug? Yes. But valid point, nonetheless.
While content creation is far easier to discuss in terms of channels, platforms, and formats, we’ll need to change the conversation to one of purpose if we want to create more content worth investing in.