Predictions2020: The Year Ahead for Content Marketing

By Shyam Sunder, a strategic marketing consultant.

TV producer and content consultant David Beebe wrote: “Content marketing is really like a first date.  If all you do is talk about yourself, there won’t be a second date.” And that’s the primary assumption  we must make in this digital era of communications we are all living in. The death of advertising solely depends on how ‘adverty’ brand communication will be, and if those brands are going to talk to the  consumer, or with them. With ‘trust’ being the biggest casualty in the last decade, consumers are now savvy enough to realise the difference between sponsored and organic content. From this perspective and from the macro-economic scenario (thinner wallets with increased competition), we will see a paradigm shift in brands across sectors investing in great content marketing. And in a situation of ever-shrinking marketing budgets, the only way to invest enough is to divert money from paid to organic methods. After all, how long can businesses in the region sustain increasing paid media budgets vs sluggish top-line growth?

Once the investment or budgets are done, what does it take to create great content? Let’s try and keep it simple. The three pillars of great content marketing remain: data, creativity and tech. For the C-suite marketer who has the responsibility of driving growth of revenues as well as profits, what really matters is her or his own knowledge and experience of these pillars and the quality of talent she or he has to hand, and leveraging them to create highly engaging yet performance-driven content.

Data, big or small, must be harnessed across customer touchpoints and integrated for a single view of the customer. In an omnichannel world, we can no longer survive with a siloed data management culture. The way marketers read customer data – from internal and external sources to deep-dive into buying behavioural patterns – blended with strong cultural insights to create ‘moments’ of opportunities: that is the base of a good brief to create rich content.

Technology must be demystified, or rather un-jargonised enough for the top management or ownership to understand and invest adequately. This is the first step where most marketers fail. That done, the use of ad tech or martech across platforms and formats will purely depend on the objectives and outcomes expected. But across sectors, where brand experience makes or breaks businesses, the primary purpose of using tech must be to dramatically improve customer experience using bots or virtual reality or even gamification opportunities, which will enable not only conversions but also loyalty.

While data and tech are enablers, what will drive brand differentiation and move consumers from  consideration to action will be creativity. Simply because only that aspect of marketing or advertising  cannot be commoditised. And this is where quality talent will continue to be outsourced. Businesses that believe in insourcing this resource are in danger of getting lost in the clutter. Strong words, but rest assured it comes with a lot of experience and wisdom. And as subjective as the topic of creativity  is, the finest creative minds around realise the importance of both the top- and bottomfunnel objectives. A great brief, concise yet insightful, is the start of co-creating great content. To set high standards of expecting path-breaking work within the brand’s tone of voice and purpose, to be brave enough in taking calculated risks at the same time, be passionate about the crafting of the content, and always remind ourselves of the business objectives set is where brand marketers play the great balancing act. Finally, we must ensure that we create content that will add value to the lives of our customers and make their lives better. That’s the bottom line.

Have a great content-full 2020.