Sides line up on SOPA: The Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, continues to make its way through Congress, earning derision from all corners of the web every step of the way. This week, a…
There’s an algorithm out there, we can be sure. It’s got all the components of business success for news-creating companies, each value carefully computed and relational to the others. Yet,…
Marketing seems to be going from macro to micro. It is about driving closer, authentic, deep and meaningful relationships, on an individual level, between an enterprise and its customers. The relationship needs to be based on a clear expression of who an enterprise is, what their ideals are, what they stand for – all of those facets that describe the richness of an enterprise, its products, its services, its ideals, its values; and expressing those in a series of conversations that take place between an enterprise and its customers - a two-way dialogue. That, to me, is really the essence of engagement. It gives rise to allowing the total story to be told about an enterprise, and to allowing that story to iterate between customers and that enterprise; for the customers to provide feedback, and for the story to evolve and get richer over time. It really is a richer way of storytelling, so much more than just a logo, or tagline; it is a series of vignettes that elaborate on and help tell a much more complex, three-dimensional story about who an enterprise is. Best of all, the shift to digital is allowing this exchange to become measurable.
The channels through which this conversation is happening is no longer limited to the transactional push dimension of paid media, but rather a much broader, fragmented landscape of earned, owned, social and mobile media that complement paid media. Each of these channels has different characteristics associated with it. As a simple example, take Twitter compared to online editorial content. Twitter has a message size constraint; it’s optimized for speed and for breaking information. Editorial content allows a much greater amount of real estate to express a much richer and more nuanced version of the content. So, content must be optimized for each particular channel, in terms of content style, the volume of the content, the speed or the immediacy of that channel. That requires more than just a level of knowledge, individually, about these channels; it also requires a holistic, cross-media, integrated understanding of how to optimize and leverage all these varying channels to really make them work together, cohesively. So the biggest challenge for marketers is to gain expertise across this staggering array of content channels and then, like a conductor of an orchestra, make sure these channels work in harmony to tell the right story and drive the right level of engagement.
The currency that now forms the basis of this marketing and engagement is compelling, high quality content. Quality content delivered to the right target audience in the right formats that promote seamless consumption, helps coalesce interest across these fragmented mediums and drives response. A commensurate challenge is figuring out what exact content (photos, videos, infographics, etc.), with what style, with what form, in what sequence, with what frequency, with what call to action to disseminate through these earned, owned, paid channels in an integrated, connect the dots way to generate the optimum result. The end result must be consistent content that tells a coherent story about the brand in different but appropriate ways across these channels.
Like two sides of a coin, content does not have a defined shelf life and can be republished, retweeted, mashed up, echoed, spur the creation of derivatives and as such drive continued conversation and engagement - in effect that means that the enterprise has to continue to monitor and engage to potentially earn a continuing return from that initial content catalyst. Getting it right can mean driving a veritable pinball effect of new visitors, higher search visibility, improved social discoverability, user generated commentary, community, leads, new clients and revenue.
Amplifying the content beyond the more obvious paid and owned media channels is a core insight. Targeting and widely disseminating this content to the contextually-appropriate earned, social and mobile media publishers to complement paid and owned channels, allows these publisher outlets to confer some authority to the content and enables the content to draft off the power of the relationships these publishers have with audiences via their brands.
The marketing goal - enhancement of brand awareness or preference, management of reputation or simply stimulating demand - drives the tactics around the content development, content optimization, engagement vehicles, calls-to-action and metrics. Also since digital media can now provide the context for consumption and possibly the means for consumption via eCommerce, media no longer is relegated to the role of influencing and driving distribution but rather media is distribution.
The development of consistent performance metrics that measure the relevant indicators (click-throughs, registrations, downloads, etc.) of brand, reputation, demand and ultimately ROI, is key to the long term sustainability of such a content-centric approach.
As my colleague Tony Uphoff at UBM Techweb puts it (http://www.uphoffonmedia.com/2010/11/17/marketing-as-a-service/), “Marketing as a one-way broadcast model, done in a series of campaigns simply doesn’t work anymore. Successful marketing today requires a content centric, conversational approach that engages and sustains a community of prospects, customers and vendors around mutual interest and the quality of the content exchange. In other words once a brand has engaged prospects and customers with a compelling story, this “community” needs to be sustained and nurtured. This shifts marketing from a project and campaign orientation to marketing as an ongoing service. The key is to be able to build, sustain and curate these communities and engage them on and off line.”