Content Marketing Field of Dreams

As I was walking down the hallway to get to the opening keynote at Content Marketing World this morning, I passed rows and rows of amazing movie posters. The theme this year is Bright Lights, Big Content and it pulls directly from the Hollywood storytelling tradition, riffing on the classic images from the movies we all know and love.

CMW_B2BExecs-214x300Storytelling is a recurring theme at every CMW I have attended …  how do we tell our story and make it interesting to our customers? How do we find the story they want to hear? There are other themes and topics that also resonate with this crowd — from strategy development to return on investment to KPIs and measurement — and while all of these messages are vital, I still find myself thinking about those movie posters and the art of telling a good story.

Flash back to a few Sundays ago. I was flipping through the channels when I stumbled upon one of “those” movies — you know the ones. The movies that you can’t help but watch when you see that they are on television, no matter how many times you have seen them? The ones with the stories that just resonate with you? Well, on this particular Sunday it was Field of Dreams, and just as I tuned in I heard those famous words…

If you build it, he will come.

Back to Content Marketing World, and the art of storytelling within the context of your brand, products, services, space, and customer universe. I have used this Field of Dreams phrase many times when discussing content marketing, but unfortunately, my spin on it can be seen as a little negative. Specifically, if you build it they don’t always come.

I think this is where the whole “inbound marketing” movement has stumbled lately, as it seemingly focuses on quantity just as much as quality and downplays the fact that simply creating content is no guarantee that your customers will seek it out and find you. The dirty secret of quality content marketing is that creating it is not enough. It actually needs to be good. It needs to be interesting. It needs to be relevant to the buyer’s interests, not explicit about your features and benefits.

future-content1-214x300Don’t get me wrong. If you don’t build it they’re definitely not going to come, but creating content is no guarantee that you will connect with your buyers. Most brands are not creating the right kind of content, because they are not listening to the second request from the Field of Dreams voice …

Ease his pain.

When you build that content strategy, you need to consider the buyer. The number one mistake most brands make in their content marketing is setting the context of how their products and services work, and then trying to fit the buyer into that context. It needs to be the reverse of this. You need to ease your buyer’s pain. What are their priorities, what are the problems they deal with on a day-to-day basis?

First you need to understand the context of the world that the buyer lives in, and then you need to understand how your brand fits into that world, in their context and frame of reference.

And of course, you need to follow that last set of instructions from the Field of Dreams voice …

Go the distance.

Don’t give up. Don’t quit too soon. Don’t start the process of developing a content strategy if you are not willing to go the distance, manage change and plan for both success and failure.

CMW_INTELLIGENTCONTENT-214x300You need to put in the work to build the solid foundation of your content strategy, which should consist of a thorough understanding of your audience’s pains and priorities as well as the steps they go through to make a purchasing decision. You need to build a content strategy that serves the buyer and their needs first, and your brand second — and you need to trust your audience to make the connections themselves. Trust me, they will.

You need to commit to creating new content that serves a defined strategy. Don’t cram existing content into your plan that only arbitrarily fits into your buyer’s journey because it is easy and you already spent money on it. Don’t take shortcuts.

Understand that downloads and clicks, while sexy, are not necessarily indicative of success. Sales are indicative of success, and you need to build the infrastructure to measure success in a way that everyone can understand and appreciate. Identify the content that the people who actually purchased your goods or services downloaded and consumed and then review, optimize and adapt.

Go the distance.

Thanks to #CMWorld for the poster images. See them all here.

Author: Jason Stewart @jstewart_1 VP of Strategy, ANNUITAS