First and foremost, content marketing needs to be thought of more as a process and not just as a tactic. Whenever we speak with business executives who get caught up on the idea of content marketing, they make the assumption that “if you [post] it, they will come […and buy].” For content marketing to be effective in the new year, brands need to become very specific on their message, making sure the content marketing is: Memorable, Relatable, and Actionable. One of the best ways to accomplish this is through narrative marketing – storytelling. (Note: Not in the sense of long-winded verbose tales; rather short, succinct, moral-driven stories.)
Stories are Memorable: The human mind is programmed to interpret life through stories. Regardless of the lack of, or incompleteness of the information, the human mind will develop a story by which we then relate to the information provided. This is important because, as marketers, it is our responsibility to make sure that the message we are delivering through the medium is interpreted (or perceived) in the way we want it received. Using a story allows us to put the information together in the way we want it perceived – rather than just sharing “top ten” lists, or spouting off facts and statistics.
Stories are Relatable: There are (by most accounts) seven types of story plots: overcoming challenges; rags to riches; a quest; voyages; comedy; tragedy; rebirth. What makes these important is that each is tied to one or more emotions (e.g. optimism, aggression, awe, surprise, joy, sadness, fear). Human connection (or disconnection) is based on emotion. This is why stories become relatable, because we associate an emotional connection to the brands we choose.
(Side note: In a survey done by OzComm Marketing, we asked if marketing is effective. Of the responses, a couple responses were very intriguing; they said that “marketing doesn’t work,” and that “[they] are brand loyal.” After doing some follow up research on this response, we found that marketing does work, but that the individuals who responded in such a way were so emotionally connected to the brands—through previous experiences—that they no longer needed advertisements to tell them what to buy, they just need to be reminded that they needed laundry detergent, and they would purchase the brand they were loyal to.)
Stories are Actionable: Every effective piece of marketing must include a call-to-action in order to persuade the intended result from a target audience. It is very common for marketing to have a very conspicuous call-to-action. While that is helpful to ensure that there is no question about what you want your audience to do, subtler forms of persuasion encourage methods that allow the individual to come to his/her own “guided” conclusion as to what to do. By telling a story (with a protagonist, drama and resolution), your target audience can relate to the protagonist, and liken the story to him/herself. In this way, you have delivered the call-to-action through and example that is relatable.
With these three points in mind, content marketing for a brand can stay one step ahead of the competition regardless of the new mediums on the horizon—virtual reality or augmented reality.