Marketing is relationship development – good customer relationships thanks to good contents

Content marketing is not a 21st century invention. In spring 1897, long before the first “http” was typed into a browser line, John Deere – at the time an inventive manufacturer of plough machines, today a global market leader for agricultural engineering – published an early “Sponsored Post” in the agricultural magazine called “The Furrow”. In the ad, the manufacturer explained how farmers can increase their yield by using agricultural machinery. John Deere thus created the link between his product and the needs of his customers. The message: We are convincing you with substantial arguments! Even 120 years later this goal has not changed: Only companies that provide additional benefits for their customers will achieve this goal. Marketing is relationship development! And you can particularly strengthen the connection with your customers through relevant content:

This, in turn, requires a sophisticated system to create targeted, user-tailored content. The basis for this is a deep understanding of the various impact levels of content marketing. The process can generally be divided into four phases:

Phase 1: To grab the people’s attention, the contents have to be created in an informative and/or entertaining way, which adds value.

Phase 2: So that the contents can be viewed and used by people, you need to ensure sufficient reach. Media support also plays a large role here because virality only works with certain types of content.

Phase 3: As people use the respective content, they establish a deeper relationship with the brand.

Phase 4: As they have established this relationship with the brand, they prefer to buy products from this brand.

It sounds very simple in theory. Of course, in practice, there are some predetermined breaking points, e.g. between phase one and two: Just because a brand produces good contents, does not mean that enough people use and see these products. And just because I like a brand, does not necessarily mean that I will buy their products. At predefined breaking point number one, a sophisticated media plan helps as it guarantees a basic reach in the desired target group. Predefined breaking point number two is the result of a simple equation: Customers usually shop in places where they can find the simplest solution to their problem and they need to know that it is the simplest.

If you take a closer look at user behaviour, you will see that: Today’s users are rushed, “always on”, have a very short attention span and take in a lot of information in a very short space of time. At a time when smartphones are the favoured devices, it is mainly visually processed contents that are used and shared. The rapid rise of Instagram is proof of this. In addition, users are very self-determined in what they want to use. The good news is: There is at least one solution for all these challenges. For example, by being “always on” with communication as well. And snackable content provides short and easily consumable content, which consistently fits to the brand. The value of recognition is particularly important, especially in a highly fragmented market: Contents must be divisible, multimedia, segmented and personalised.

How can you produce content for such a fast-paced and mobile world? By working dynamically! Paul Adams, Head of Brand Design at Facebook, gets straight to the point: “To be a successful advertiser on the web in the future, you will need to build content based on many lightweight interactions over time.” Short and simply put: If you don’t let go then you won’t be current. Many, small interactions – combined with few, but big highlights.

At the office, we call this agile brand communication. To achieve this, you need many different disciplines within an agency or an agency group to be involved: Insights, content strategy, media strategy, concept team, editorial department, creation, paid media, community management, influencer management, PR and account management. All departments of the agency have to work hand in hand with the customer.

Content is king! The customer is king! But where is the king hiding?

Currently, many companies produce “their” content primarily from the perspective of the sender. They are stuck in the broadcaster or sender trap, which they are familiar with from their previous classical advertising. A more promising approach is content analysis for content production: Based on valid data, it examines what people actually talk about and in what form (social listening). These findings are then compared with the topics and messages that the company or the brand wants to work with. Residual topics are then conceptualised using storytelling. Similar to the way Snapchat and Instagram stories work – individual images and individual parts are strung together to make a story. These stories are then reused on various channels that are suitable for the target group and the content. For logical reasons, the user is divided into different segments and also addressed with various versions of the contents – for example, regarding their gender or where they live.

A lot has happened in agriculture too. Although John Deere’s ad was revolutionary 120 years ago, it would not have the same effect today as an advert in the “top agrar” specialist medium, for example. Among today’s farmers, the smartphone is the dominating source of information. What is searched on the go? Today’s farmers are not only searching for a wife, they also spend plenty of time looking at the weather report and the weather forecast. According to a study by the Kleffmann Group, with 46% of farmers using it, the weather app is by far the most used feature. The study also showed that agricultural machinery manufacturers such as John Deere now combine their products with mobile real time content regarding the weather.

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