You Want To Connect? Care About What Your Customers Care About

I understand that people inside and outside of marketing circles have problems with the word “content.” A producer friend told me recently that he dislikes the term because of its amorphousness. The problem is content sounds a lot like “stuff,” and stuff is filler, not prized storytelling.

Tom Goodwin, SVP of Strategy and Innovation at Havas Media is one guy with the right ideas about content. Which makes me want to celebrate his thinking.

The hardest thing in content marketing is providing people with something that’s good enough to do battle with everything else. The competitive depth of content marketing is every work of Shakespeare, every song ever written, every Oscar-winning film, all of your friends’ baby pictures on Facebook.

…The solution for many brands should lie in utility. We should be looking to help people, to provide value, and offer them some sort of service.

In the old days, a firm’s ads had to compete with the programming it interrupted. That was tough to do, but doable nonetheless. Getting brands to act like media companies and produce material as rich as Hamlet or King Lear? I don’t think so.

What brands and media makers can do is raise the bar considerably from the mindless claptrap that passes for thought leadership today. By serving customers true needs, you end up serving your own.

Take KLM, the airline that kickstarted the modern customer-support-via-social-media revolution, has 150 people dedicated to serving clients via social. And each of them represents almost $170,000 in annual revenue.

Now ask yourself what your company’s brand communications can do to address the real life needs of your customers. Do you make wine? Great, create a pairing guide of local cheeses. Do you run a hotel? Terrific, invite food trucks into your parking lot so guests can taste your city’s street food. It’s not about selling your product or service, it’s about being in tune with your customer’s true needs and delivering suitable answers.

When we say content, we’re often talking about outputs like branded articles, videos, apps, podcasts, email newsletters, white papers, sponsorships, events and more—all with high value for the intended audience. These are all vehicles for content. Content itself is the rich matter that helps people care about your company.

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