Seven Believing in The Real Essence of Content Marketing For Sentiment Driven Brands

Babar: Hello and welcome to another edition of Ephlux Insights Video Series. My name is Babar Khan and I’m the entrepreneur in residence for this program and we’re joined by Robin Bonn, Director of Business Development at Seven, an agency in UK. Specializing in content marketing but they do quite a few other things as well. We’re here today because Robin has written an impressive article on Warc Market Leader issue 2014. It circles around content marketing. Robin, why don’t you tell us something about the article and how you came about writing it. How this philosophy or ideology has worked well with your clients.

Robin:  Sure. Will do. The main thing about the article was that it was born out of a piece of research we did last year and that was driven by an observation. Clearly a lot of people are talking about content marketing but it clearly means different things for different people. In the US, concept marketing is more often associated with is the B2B regeneration tool, and across Europe it differs as well. In the UK, it was always really the preserve of agencies, like Seven who used to be contract publishers and have expanded out there in ways of distributing the content, and become a far more strategic editorially lead brand cum discipline. In the UK, It is becoming the case of more sensitive market. So, you’ve got media agencies, mediacoms, MEC, Universal Mecan are all strong – you’ve got content division, DDB doing the same thing. There’s a couple of issues – agencies piling in the market tend to take a video-centric definition of content. For those guys, its a production discipline – they own the brand, the definition of that brand, strategy of the brand and you can see from the posts or rolls running on them. The issue around content is that everybody’s talking about it and all other forms of marketing are suddenly rendered defunct or dead, which is crazy. It makes no sense. You know the world doesn’t need another article on content agency says content is the best thing ever! It’s not just helpful, as much as the marketing world hangs on what Cisco said. There’s a very famous quote of him, “Content marketing is the only marketing that’s left.”  We disagree with that wholeheartedly.

Coming back to the question, the reason that we started that research was to look at converge media . How does content marketing work with other disciplines, rather than being positioned as something all you ever need? Because that is helpful to clients who are looking to invest in content, and from our experience it’s the question of finding the right balance of what content should be there with your business. How you’re best able to provide the entertaining, relevant and proper content to an audience? That is how the article was born. We went for it and did the research. We tried to set the baselines to sort of scale the content marketing, and give a depth, a breadth to it. We looked at all different types of owned media channels, which is a good 12 or 15 of them at least, video being one of them . You could describe yourself to be a good distribution channel for the type of content that brands could create, so we just define our terms a little bit in the market, we found that around 20% was being spent on media in UK. The figure has been relocated in other studies, so we’re pretty confident at that. The main purpose of the article was to give a sound advice to people about what content is good for and what it’s not . we have to take a look at the customer journey ,and we have to be fairly reductive, so we broke it down into 4-5 stages to look at two things:

The brand’s or marketers attitude at what they thought content was good for, and then more interestingly, we looked at consumers, sector by sector, to see how those guys are using content at each stage of the customer journey.

The findings provided substance to everybody, particularly someone who didn’t have a discipline to talk up, the results were as you might expect. As much as the reality is far from being dead, if you’re looking to reach an audience, who are aware of any product or service, you use TV, that delivers big numbers. Of course, it costs a lot but that’s the dynamic that’s always been and it starts to move into the sales cycle of the customer journey. You start seeing more media channels come into play, as people start to research and compare, people quickly go to the website and as you start to make the distinction between products, the types of channels come into play more and more.

Another interesting thing is that there’s a real disparity in the role of social media. A lot of marketers we spoke to felt that the role of social was quite early in the customer journey. Our research showed that people were tending towards social more in the post purchase keeping in touch phase, showing that  brands have used social media more as a customer service channel rather than the proactive use.

Babar: sorry to cut you there, so it means that customers aren’t really looking online to see other options, or comparing other products, and seeing their locations and all?

Robin: No, that statement was particularly for social media. People are using online sources constantly. It was only the role of social media that the marketers we talked to felt it prevalent earlier in the customer cycle. That gave us some good stats around the variations of the roles of owned media. One of the frustrations I have with content marketing is that many of the practitioners in content tend to define what they do in terms of the channels that they use to distribute the editorial content.

If you look at any agency discipline, an ad agency , the digital agency or data content agency, so many of them say the same thing. It’s about having an idea, a thought or whatever you may call it – big ideas, small ideas, long ideas – whatever the term, and then distributing it across the right channels for the job.  Of course that’s absolutely right, if you have an advertising idea that is clear and listed in all sorts of different locations, more of an editorial idea and you distribute it in all sorts of different ways.

The reality is that defining a discipline, in terms of the channels that it is distributed through is no more descriptive now. We thought hard on how to frame content marketing in a way which really focused on what it does, what does content marketing deliver, rather than how do we deliver it? When we looked at the clients we worked with, we felt that what content is really good at is at helping – we talk about keeping brands real , in a sense that If you take a collaborative approach, advertising and content marketing works together. The advertising is really good at making a brand promise. So one of clients in the UK is the Supermarket Sainbury’s, and they’re very well known. The advertising agency does a beautiful job at crafting this promise and that’s not the skills that we have and its not something we can do anywhere near to it as the ad agency, but what happens next. If you’re sitting on a sofa and you see a TV ad and it says live well for less. You say sounds good, I like living well and I like living for less so what happens now. What content does it give people – a sense of how  – how to deliver on the brand’s promise. Every day, everywhere, whenever the customer comes to the brand- over the phone, in their store, recipe card, paying their own money, for a magazine, or looking at their website, watching a video or responding on social, whatever it is, if you have a singular view on the delivery of the brand promise, that is what content is really good at. That’s what our proposition as an agency is really built around. That is the payoff to the article at the Market Leader. We seek to flush out the relationship between advertising and content.  Reality is if you have content to show people how to do something, it may help value the advertising further. Likewise, build it and they might come, but if you introduce it with paid media, and help drive traffic, online or offline, then the content will be found useful by more people. It’s like a symbiotic and complementary relationship. That’s the message of that piece in Warc, in Market Leader.

Babar: There was this case study of Kraft Foods, that they would send to the customer and the customer would see at the end of the day what he could do with the product or recipe. I just want to touch upon two things stated independently in your article. Of the 2000 people who were surveyed, 30% of them said that they want both education and entertainment in the content marketing that they target. At the same time, stepping away from your article, there’s a concept now, emerging on twitter, and growing on facebook as well, where there are video advertisers. What would you advise to CMOs in the 2014? As a majority of the surveyed wanted a mix of entertainment and information, how do you see the numbers changing as people gain more and more insights?

Robin: you’ve kind of hit the nail on the head really. To talk about what content are we going to create and where are we going to distribute it. There’s not much to be gained looking at generic surveys or broad perspectives about what people generally want from a particular channel. What you described is really the need to reach the advertisements and content having a single strategy. You need to see what is the unmet need with your specific audience? Have you got enough clarity about your audience? There are two stages that we do. The first thing is establish the content strategy – that is linear piece of consultative work, and then it’s a goal of planning, creating, distributing, measuring content on an ongoing basis. Often there are gaps in the knowledge about what content have we got, what’s working well, what isn’t, do you really have an understanding of what is it that we’re trying to say, what are the outcomes we’re trying to get to, what is the tone of voice that we’re trying to speak and really what you’re business agenda is, the marketing of the unmet need on behalf of the audience. It’s a very editorial thing- we’re not talking about a campaign where we reductively say we get a product benefit across. What we’re trying to do is to provide a genuine, really useful, valuable or entertaining. Of course, you’ll have shareability if its’ good, that’s the consequence of getting the strategy right. If you know what the unmet need is on behalf of the audience and you really know the audience well and have a sense of the authority, then you can answer questions about what to say and who to, then we can see what the concept plan looks like and what channels should we be operating in – and then the channel planning exercise where you’ve got the what and who and the question of where . and then everything is set where you know about everything’s that happening in the seasonal perspective, general elections coming down , economic trends and so it’s a broad picture that you’re trying to insert your content into. Something that we remind ourselves of everyday – the world does not need any more content.  If you’re going to create something new you better make sure it’s good, otherwise .. yea so why waste time. That’s the starting point : get a content strategy and take it from there.

Babar: One last point, I had shown the publication to our investor, and when people are extremely successful in their lives in the multi-millionaire status, when they read these articles, they think it’s true but on some fixed variables. He’s Ali Nasim, and one of the points he brought up was that in your article there’s a clear distinction between B2B and B2C like they’re independent roles . One of clients is Starbucks so one aspect of their business is that 65 – 67 % of their business revenue comes from selling coffee beans directly to the retailers and directly to consumers and they’ve made marketing at the ground level – outlets and all. So businesses that have a B2B and B2C approach in their stream, how would you advise them on the content marketing adoption? They might be the same person, but who’d buying first in terms of primary sales and secondary sales matters.

Robin: None of the old rules of marketing suddenly disappeared as the disciplining content has come to the forefront. If you’ve got a dfferent audience group, driven in different ways , different decision making processes  – then you need to separate content strategies. Clearly there are fundamental differences between the way you communicate with consumers and that with businesses.  There are a lot of grey areas where you’re almost talking in the B2B sense to a , wealth management is a good example where you’re talking to exclusively high network individuals – where they are generally captains of industry. There’s a generosity at the heart of content marketing that’s absent from advertising. It doesn’t make advertising bad, it just makes it different. When you know your audience, you can make stuff for them.

Babar: That is what I love about your article- advertising communicates one way and content marketing says this is how this brand can improve your life. Thank you for your time and I hope to speak to you soon.

Robin: Thank you. Cheers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *