Content has become central to a brand’s marketing activities

Published: November 15, 2019 12:35:06 AM

Any brand, in order to become stronger, has to constantly connect with its consumers. The entire theory of stimulus-response works on the principle of brands sending a stimulus for consumers to respond.

What really happens is that content is produced at a far greater frequency than any other communication material.

By Naresh Gupta

Any brand, in order to become stronger, has to constantly connect with its consumers. The entire theory of stimulus-response works on the principle of brands sending a stimulus for consumers to respond.

Where does content marketing fit in the overall brand communication strategy? Content marketing is a term that can get many skilled communication professionals to scratch their heads in confusion.

Piecing it together

Traditionally, content has not been the domain of brands. Content is a word that comes from the publishing industry. What really happens is that content is produced at a far greater frequency than any other communication material. Brands typically produce communication material for TV, say, once a quarter, and may produce a content piece daily.

This changes the dynamics of engagement radically. While brands may want a certain level of reach and frequency for their advertising piece, the content piece reaches a far lesser number and gets a far lesser frequency of exposure.

Then, why are brands getting into the domain of publishers and creating content?

The genesis of the term lies in the online world. Once a brand creates a website, it would want a greater number of people to visit the site and spend time with the brand. In the ecosystem dominated by search, content is needed for discoverability. Consumers may often not remember the specific brand, but may discover the website because they searched for a specific term.

We now live in a world where everything can be searched, be it individuals and addresses or symptoms and services. In a searchable world, the challenge for brands and services changes, as the richness of content can be the difference between creating a positive impression or losing a consumer forever.

This makes content a critical key to the success of a brand. There are categories where consumers would willingly want to read more. These are categories like health, nutrition, investment, holiday, education, automobiles and electronics. Then there are categories where they would want to read less, such as packaged goods, fashion, cabs and car rentals. The propensity to consume more content or less is just for comparison, and not really a qualitative call.

Double-edged sword

There is no better demonstrator of power of content than the case of a restaurant in London called The Shed of Dulwich. Its founder cleverly used the reviews on TripAdvisor to drive following for his eatery. The only glitch was that The Shed of Dulwich did not exist. But it became the most reviewed restaurant!

That’s the whole downside of the world of content marketing. While there are brands that spend time and money creating, curating and pushing content that is correct, relevant and meaningful, a far greater number is also creating and propagating content far from the truth.

The onus of filtering correct from incorrect and fake from real eventually lies with the consumers, as the entire content creation bit is largely unregulated. Beyond brands, political parties have championed the use of content by creating online platforms. Often, political parties create content with the singular intention of creating voting preference; and don’t hesitate to promote what was famously called the alternate truth.

Despite the small issue of fake news, there are new opportunities that content marketing is opening up. It is helping brands build expertise, helping consumers choose better, and helping the market create new opportunities.

In more ways than one, content is becoming central to a brand’s marketing activities, and this trend is likely to become far stronger.

(The author is chief strategy officer, Bang In The Middle)

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