THE NEW APPROACH TO BUILDING COMMUNITY
Back in the early 2000s, Bart Van Olphen quit his job at Lucas Cartons’ Michelin-star restaurant in Paris to pursue a new and more engaging passion. From his evenings walking the Au Pied de Couchon and grabbing dinner at the renowned Les Halles restaurant, he became enamored with how people loved to eat at their favorite seafood eateries. Slowly, his romance with the sea grew. Each morning, he would head down to the harbor as the local fishermen hauled in their scores. But as he spent more and more time in the small fishing communities, Van Olphen was shocked to learn how the fish were being treated. Essentially operating factories on the water, the fishery companies were not concerned with much more than tomorrow.So Van Olphen decided to do something about it. Co-founding Fish Tales, a Netherlands-based company committed to sustainable fishing, he immersed himself in righting the wrongs in his new world. At the heart of his efforts was a blog, Fish Tales, which covered everything and anything related to fish and the sea. Every Friday became “Fishy Friday,” a content-driven initiative that hit a vein with those who shared his passion. The content not only inspired a series of bestselling books and cookbooks, but also helped build the Fish Tales community.
“SINCE CONTENT IS THE SPOKEN LANGUAGE FOR BUILDING R E L AT I O N S H I P S , MORE BRANDS SHOULD ACT LIKE MEDIA COMPANIES.”
— DEBBIE QAQISH,CHIEF STRATEGY OFFICER, THE PEDOWTIZ GROUP
Andrew Davis believes there is much to learn from Van Olphen’s story—one that he says probably does not get as much attention as it should for being the perfect blueprint for how content builds trust, attracts followers, and builds communities. “The commitment—not the campaign—is one of the key tenets of creating content,” says Davis, Co-founder of Monumental Shift, and a bestselling author and keynote speaker. “Committing yourself to make your audience’s life better on a regular basis means you are committing to the promise of delivering and sharing content that matters.”
In a world where engagement gets top billing in all marketing and branding discussions, Davis may be a bit of an outlier. Not a fan of the word engagement, Davis believes brands make real connections with their content and drive revenue. “Some people view engagement as clicks, likes, or comments on social media. But that’s not true engagement. If you’re going to truly define engagement, content is what should drive revenue. For me, engagement is content that earns the trust and attention of your audience—something that inspires them to go on a journey, and prompts them to do or buy something they didn’t expect they would.”
At the end of the day, the goal of content is to build trust with a prospect or a potential audience, or an existing audience. The bottom line is that you want them to spend time and money with your brand. In taking a media company approach to your content initiative, you will be able to adopt the mindset needed for content creation, management, and curation.
Over the past 18-plus months, as COVID changed the way brands everywhere communicated to their communities, content became the ideal vehicle to build an audience, deliver valuable insights, and create deep and meaningful relationships. Debbie Qaqish, DBA, says that in today’s digital world, content is the spoken language of building relationships.
“Today’s post-pandemic consumer wants a language that is authentic, personal and gives them something they can believe in or support,” says Qaqish, Partner and Chief Strategy Officer of The Pedowitz Group and author of “From Backroom to Boardroom: Earn Your Seat With Strategic Marketing Operations.” “If your message is filled with only your products and features, you won’t last long in this market.”
With content often one of the largest items on a marketing department’s budget list, brands are taking a more concentrated focus on the media company approach. For example, some are employing editors-in-chief to establish and manage the type of discipline content creation requires. In companies that have this role, content is much more varied and on-target, resulting in a better connection with the customer.
“Since content is the spoken language for building relationships, more brands should act like media companies,” Qaqish says. “That means they obsess over knowing and connecting with their audience. That there is a huge variety of content—by media type (videos, white papers, etc.), channels (social, email, etc.)—all based on the persona/personalization. Creativity is a key element in content to better make the customer connection.”
“THE COMMITMENT—NOT THE CAMPAIGN—IS ONE OF THE KEY TENETS OF CREATING CONTENT.”
— ANDREW DAVIS, CO-FOUNDER, MONUMENTAL SHIFT
On your mark. Get set. Create.
In today’s 24-hour news cycle, a brand’s agenda, depending on the market it plays in, is always changing. Some days, if the right PR moment hits, a brand may get that perfect lightbulb moment, resulting in concise, relative, and reactive content. But more often than not, the need to deliver top-tier, clickable content is ever-present. It is in these moments—and there are lots of them—that Rebecca Moss, Digital PR Director for JBH PR, says you must be prepared. While “Hubspot’s Annual State of Marketing Report” shows that 51% of companies find that updating and reinvigorating old content is important, Moss believes you must keep your eye on the content wheel. “Strategic planning, staying organized, and continuously reviewing what you offer is key. Creating new content should never fall to the wayside.”
The internet—and all its glory—brings something new and enterprising to tackle each day, which means it is imperative that brands can keep up. Whereas brands may have just focused content on new products or services, or touting their mission statements, the ever-changing content landscape has changed everything. With social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn serving as de facto content engines, brands must make the investment in content marketing strategies.
“Generating new ideas with a fresh angle is perhaps one of the greatest challenges brands face, along with matching the speed of their competitors’ output,” Moss says. “The most successful content strategies are data-driven—with a constant focus on measurement and analytics. The best content marketers always have a plan, stay prepared, and have a plan B. Consistency (act like you are a media company) is key to creating sustainable and manageable content.”
In a time when content truly is king, mastering the strategy is what will separate you from other brands that might not know what you know—that once you can get your audience hooked, they will be sure to follow.
YOUR 5-STEP PLAN TO ACTING LIKE A MEDIA COMPANY
- GET DISCIPLINED You must make an appointment with your audience and consistently deliver on it. Set targets, goals, and objectives for your content. Routinely measure your efforts.
- GET FOCUSED Make content the No. 1 priority on your 2022 to-do list, and beyond. Recent studies indicate an all-time high in the use of digital everything. With this in mind, making, keeping and growing digital connections will create competitive advantage for companies.
- GET HUMAN Attach a person to your content. Send an email newsletter every week to help build relationships and humanize your brand. By being more than just a logo and/or name, your audience will know there are people behind the promise you want them to trust.
- CREATE A HOOK This is a simple twist on a familiar theme designed to connect your content with your audience. Make your content unique and ownable, i.e., there should be no question that it is from you.
- FAIL TO PREPARE; PREPARE TO FAIL It is critical to learn and grow from your failures. The best part about content is that you can continue to deliver it. Figure out what works, what doesn’t, what’s next, and why.