At a time when most firms are planning for 2014, it is important while building a marketing plan to stop frequently and assess what’s in your marketing mix. If you read anything about marketing and marketing tactics, you are likely hearing (almost daily) that Content Is King. Simply creating content, however, probably will not achieve your goals, unless:
- The content is of good quality. 2. The content is relevant to the needs and interests of your target audience. 3. The content is appropriately formatted for the platform on which it is shared or published. 4. The content is shared on the right platforms at the right time
One of the most interesting things about content marketing is that when defined broadly it feeds the entire marketing mix if planned, produced, and published strategically. After all, marketing is the art or science of sharing the right information and telling the right story in the right way to resonate with your target audience. What is more, that information and your story must be available in the right place, at the right time. All marketing requires content of some sort.
Findings of a Recent Survey of Marketers
The Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs released findings of a study on October 15, 2013 entitled “B2C Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America” sponsored by Imagination. The following chart indicates the importance of various content marketing tactics to marketers responding to the survey. Of the marketers responding, 90% indicated that they used content marketing in 2013 (up from 86% in 2012).
The chart clearly shows the variety of contexts and formats in which content is created and shared. Many of the formats and contexts, we believe, are actually underused by this group of respondents. It is important to note that the format and context in which the content is published should be determined by the needs and expectations of the target market. In some cases, marketers might be missing valuable opportunities by focusing too narrowly on social media and blogging.
Clearly, creating content appropriate for social media and blogging (for those who do not consider a blog a social medium), are the leading marketing platforms for these B2C marketers. Yet it is also important to note the wide range of platforms and formats used to produce and publish the content. In this connection we want to underscore the wide range of platforms and contexts in which content is being shared/published by these marketers. There is no indication that any of these respondents are using a single tactic, context or platform for their marketing. Social media (and blogging) might be the most widely used platform, but it is not the only platform.
What’s In Your Marketing Mix?
How many of these content marketing tactics or formats are being used by your marketing team? Is the marketing mix too narrow to extend reach and draw new prospects and customers? Is your marketing team undervaluing tactics or publishing platforms because the format requires more time or thought (for example, books, virtual conferences, e-books, etc.)? Is your team overlooking opportunities to repurpose content for additional formats?
- Do you believe you cannot create an e-book? If you have a blog, you can likely select key posts and combine them into an e-book or a book.
- If you produce an annual report, do you share key information from the report on your blog, social media posts, advertising?
- Do you publish a newsletter? Does it include recent blog posts, information shared via social media platforms, etc?
- Have you made a speech or presentation? Have you published a video of the presentation? Have your slides been refined and shared on SlideShare? Have key points been shared via social media posts?
Although some marketers claim to use a single platform to grow their business, these successes are, quite honestly, the exception rather than the rule. For the rest of us, success is achieved by sharing the right messages with the right people across a range of platforms. The best marketing mix is the combination of the most effective tactics and platforms to showcase your products and/or services, to tell your story, and to provide to the right people the information they need in order to make the decision to buy from you.
Your firm’s marketing mix should be a unique combination of strategies and tactics, as well as content types, designed to share a compelling message to your target audience and win new customers while also retaining past customers. Your firm’s marketing mix might be similar to that of your competitors, but it need not be identical.
Remember, people find you when you stand apart from the crowd. Don’t be constrained by what other people are doing, or even by just following best practices someone published. Be creative. Differentiate yourself. But always, keep the focus on your target audience and what is relevant to them. If you can keep that focus consistently, your quality content and the marketing mix you choose will achieve your marketing goals.