No longer just a buzzword that marketers use to pitch to their boss, it has become a marketing must-have that many B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer) brands employ to increase leads, heighten brand affinity, and so on. A well thought-out content marketing strategy is needed for you to rise above the noise, resonate with your readers, and prompt them to take action – be it making a purchase or ‘share’. So you may ask, what then are the hallmarks of a winning content marketing strategy?

Grab your pen and paper and let’s get started!

Goal-setting routine:

A brilliant content marketing strategy starts with having clear goals. They can be framed as:

A. Sales-related goals, such as leads generation, upsell or cross-sell figures

OR

B. Brand-related goals, for example brand awareness, affinity or associations

Depending on your business needs, you can have a mixture of both.

Having clear goals helps in designing a sound content marketing strategy. If you have set sales-related objectives, readers should find it easy to jump from your content to your sales channels. Likewise if you have set brand-related objectives, your content should embody your brand personalities and values. With well-defined goals in place, measuring the performance of your content marketing strategy would be effortless.

In case you are tempted to jump right into content planning, cool your jets! There is one more essential component: Understanding your target audience.

Reader personas    

Who are your TA (target audience)? What are they passionate about? What are their interests, needs, and desires? Where do they get their content and what formats do they respond best to? Which stage of the buyer’s journey are they at? Of course, there are other pointers you can use to guide you in shaping your readers’ personas, and if you need a guide for it, here’s one.

The upshot? By having well-built personas, you are able to produce content that your TA would want to read and take the desired actions.

With your personas nailed down, you are all set for content planning.

Content planning    

Here is an approach I like, which requires you to diligently look back at the goals and personas you have developed.

  • What content to produce? Give them what they are looking for. Beauty brands out there, if your customers are on a lookout for beauty tips, give it to them. Just make sure to have a fit between your brand and content.
  • Where to publish your content? Simple. Be wherever your readers are.
  • How often should you publish? There isn’t any magic formula for this question as different content and formats call for different answers. The most basic thing is to consider your readers’ content consumption behaviors before deciding on a number, then improvise along the way.
  • What content formats should you be creating? You have a plethora of format choices to choose from – blogs, eBooks, infographics and many more. But don’t sweat it, you don’t have to use them all. Pick those that you think your content will work best in, is best supported by your distribution channels and whether or not will it get the best responses.
  • What is hot? You want to get your content in front of as many eyeballs as possible. Make sure you keep up with the latest digital trends so that you can publish your content in creative formats that will make your readers go “Wow!”.
  • Repurpose your content. Look, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day. When you’re out of ideas you can reuse content from different platforms or formats. Keeping an inventory of your past assets is a good way to start; track what worked and what didn’t. Emulate the success of those that have delivered results and try to avoid or improve on those that did not.
  • Content creation. With your content plan ready, decide who will create the content. Some brands choose to curate and create their own content. Others choose to appoint digital agency or key opinion leaders as their workhorses. Either way, your content needs to be authentic, consistent and on-brand.

Evaluation

You have put in effort to create the content and distribute it to your readers. It’s time to measure the performance of your strategy and below are some metrics you could use:

  • Have the objectives been met?
  • How many people have read your content?
  • Did they share your content?
  • How many comments or likes did it get?
  • What is the click-through rate or conversation rate like?
  • Which distribution channels performed the best?
  • What resonated most with your readers?

Editorial calendar

One last thing! A well put-together editorial calendar will help boost your content marketing strategy. Having a bird’s-eye view of your strategy can help you stay organised, plan ahead of time and drive internal teamwork, to name a few.

A long game

You may realise some part of your content marketing strategy may work brilliantly, while others may not. But that’s all part of the process. A kick-ass content marketing strategy is one that requires perpetual tinkering and tuning. If you need any help, get in touch with us. Meanwhile, happy crafting and tweaking!

With swipes of your thumb (swipe left for no, right for yes), Left, Left, Right. Left, Left, Left, Right. Match! Voila! You might have found the Prince Charming or Tinderella of your dreams! Finding your other half on the dating platform, Tinder, can be that effortless.

In the world of marketing, however, it calls for more than just swiping for marketers to choose the perfect partner to work with. Picking the right partner can help amplify your brand voice, attract new audiences and elevate your brand equity. Pick one that’s a mismatch, and you could put your brand in jeopardy.

So, when choosing your Romeo or Juliet for a brand partnership, keep an eye out for the following:

Halo effect                                                      

Ask yourself this. What do you envision your brand to be like? What you want your customers feel about your brand? From there, seek a partner that fits into that imagination. Chances are you will find customers have the same favourable feelings and attitudes towards your brand, just like how they feel about your partner. We call this the halo effect. Look at it this way: collaboration between a start-up brand and Apple will catapult the former into the spotlight and boost its brand equity.

At the very least, your partner should have adequate brand awareness and brand equity.

Shared DNA

The second thing you should look for is compatibility. You want a partner who is similar to you in many ways, someone who shares the same vision and goals as you. Avoid ending up in a tug-of-war game with your partner, where both brands move in opposite direction. Take for example: After two brands have come together, one of them focuses on breaking into the digital world, while the other fixes its attention to building brick-and-mortar experience. Such straight-out misalignment means that both parties would not be able to leverage on each other branding and marketing efforts for the better, not to mention internal disputes.

Consumers must also perceive a fit between your partnership otherwise they will be left confused and question your brand and its direction. This will dilute your brand meaning and hurt its image. Worst-case scenario, they could think your brand isn’t what they want anymore.

So before saying yes to or approaching any potential candidates, make sure that they share a common genetic code with you.

Which way to go?

So which is better, a premium or a mass-market brand? The decision can be tricky. Teaming up with a premium brand is not always a golden ticket that can help lead you into a successful brand partnership.

If your brand belongs to the mass-market category, you may be tempted to collaborate with high-end brands to earn attractive margins and at the same time enhance your brand’s image. But be cautious that it may easily backfire, if your marketing programmes do not support that image upward lift. On the other hand, joining forces with a mass-market brand can make your offerings more accessible, but it may also cause your brand to look “downmarket”.

The point is: Consider your long-term vision before going upmarket or downmarket. Just look at Coach.

Every partnership has two sides

In a brand partnership, each brand is able to ride on the positive coattails of the other.

Red Bull and GoPro. At first sight, it seems to be an odd combination – an energy drink and a camera? On closer look, they are a match-made in heaven. Sharing identical targeted demographics, they piggybacked each other’s marketing efforts and distribution platforms to inspire the world to live a bigger and more exciting life.

Another stellar example comes from Apple and Hermès. “Just like Hermès, Apple is all about craftsmanship and innovation,” explained Jennifer Carter, the president and CEO of Hermès Canada. On one hand Hermès – a brand founded on tradition and heritage – injected freshness and modernity into its image, and on the other Apple was able to reach out to an affluent and fashion-conscious segment that was not previously reachable.

Closer to home, in 2015, MasterCard made Apply Pay available to MasterCard cardholders in Singapore as both brands saw digital wallets gaining rapid ground locally.

While it’s clear that a successful brand marriage can help to enhance the brand equities of both brands, it may not come to one’s mind that brand partnerships are not exactly risk-free. A poorly managed partnership can expose a brand to negative feedback effects and risk diluting its brand equity.

What matters most?

Of course, there are many other elements that contribute to a successful brand partnership: your partnership tactics, key performance indicators, to name a few. But all these would not matter if you don’t pick the right partner. I can’t emphasise enough the importance of this, even if it is not in the context of brand partnerships. Think about how these tips can be applied to the following scenarios:

  • When you are planning to acquire a brand
  • When you are thinking of having a brand or product extension
  • When you are choosing influencers to work with

Best of luck finding your perfect match! If you need advice and Google isn’t helping, you can always drop us an email or ping us.

Love it or hate it, digital marketing landscape is ever evolving. For some of us, the constant change presents new ways of reaching out to the mass. For others, it means an endless chase. Whichever case it is, at the speed marketing trends are unfolding, it will come as no surprise that a great deal of brands struggle to ensure that their marketing strategies move apace with those new trends. And this struggle stems from their inability to keep up with current trends and anticipate changes.

I can’t see into the future, but I think I can make a good guess of what will be on the digital marketing horizon for 2017, based on my observations. Here are my top three predictions for this year!


1. Let’s go Live

First there was Snapchat. Then came Periscope. Now we have Facebook Live, Instagram Live and YouTube Live. Heck, even Whatsapp is introducing stories with Status! As consumers’ thirst for real-time and authentic content increases, live streaming is poised to take off. Brands entering the live space are getting creative with their streaming platforms: From product demonstrations to product launches. They are also conducting live interviews to hosting Question and Answer (Q&A) sessions, and from offering exclusive behind-the-scenes content to giving free live tutorials.

Every week, Benefit Cosmetics goes live with their in-house experts or influencers to give makeup tutorials and dish out beauty tips and tricks. Along with those, the brand also features Q&A session to amplify engagement. The live broadcasts average 25,000 views. Plenty of other brands like Lowe’s and GE followed suit: Picked up their cameras, pressed the red button and went live.

While some brands create their own live content, others tap on their influencers’ live streaming channels to reach out to consumers. Whatever form or nature these live content videos take, we will definitely spot more of them being utilised by brands as the medium to engage, connect with and inspire their audience.

 

2. Virtual Reality (VR) becomes normalized

VR technology which is capable of transporting anyone into a whole new world, has been around for years. Only in recent years, however, are we seeing more brands experiment with it to deliver immersive brand experiences to their customers.

Haagen-Dazs has a story to tell about a cause close to its heart: The waning honeybees population. To up its brand storytelling ante, Haagen-Dazs turned to VR technology. For three to five minutes, viewers were shrunk to the size of the honeybees, flying with other bees while learning what the species were experiencing, striking a chord in viewers’ hearts.

Fashion houses and brands such as Topshop and Dior are also using VR to showcase their wares, and at the same time, offering their viewers backstage passes within the comfort of their own homes to watch models being prepped for their turn down the runway.

Did I also mention that VR is considered by many to be still in its infancy, which got me really excited to see what it has to offer!

 

3. Rebooting Chatbots

A chatbot, is a chat robot that mimics conversations with visitors of a website – either through text or audio. Nothing new, but thanks to advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI), a revolution is taking place. Loads of brands such as MasterCard and American Express, are tapping on chatbots powered to:

  • Deliver richer, more personalised experiences and more meaningful interactions to their customers
  • Collect data about their customers, allowing it to better understand behaviours

That is not all. We have also seen brands of all stripes bringing chatbots to messaging applications. You may remember, in 2016, Tommy Hilfiger launched its Facebook chatbot named TMY.GRL. The “fashion bot” tries to understand users, shares content around Tommy Hilfiger’s collections based on their needs and offers them instant customer service.

The year ahead would see more brands joining in the chatbot movement.


 

Keeping your antenna up

So those are my predictions, especially with the ever-waning attention span of people, these digital trends will reign supreme in 2017. It could be daunting to immediately deep-dive into using these technologies all at once, but why not take one step at a time. Dip your toes with Facebook Live first, then get in touch with your customers with a chatbot. It could yield good results!