The art of snackable storytelling
If brands and consumers were a couple, they’d be having trouble, maybe even on a break. They would have grown apart, no longer really understanding who their partner is, and their long-term relationship would be on the rocks.
The problem is that communication has broken down between brands and consumers because marketers simply aren’t evolving as quickly as the people they are marketing to. In fact, if they were to attend counseling, the advice they’d receive would be to work on communication.
So before we go on, let’s agree that the digital revolution isn’t actually a revolution anymore, it is just life. Very soon everyone will have a smartphone, everyone will be online, and everyone will be connected.
Next, let’s agree that traditional marketing is dead. We live and work in an age of dynamism, in an industry shaped by change that is shifting more in a week today than it did in a year 20 years ago. We are now all digital marketers, whether we like it or not.
Finally, let’s stop all the hand wringing about content. As marketers, we’ve been creating content since the birth of our industry. The world’s oldest example quality content writing by brands as publishers is the 120-year-old The Furrow magazine from agricultural behemoth John Deere. Content is in our DNA, all that’s changed are the channels we use to disseminate it.
Good marketing content is about quality, not quantity
In fact, content marketing is a symptom of this rapidly changing market, and neatly captures our response to an industry in flux. Unfortunately, in the scramble to create content that fills every channel, we historically compromised on quality with quantity.
We overstretched ourselves, tried to do too much with too little. And there’s now a myriad of stale YouTube channels, stagnant blogs and out-of-date websites as proof. We’ve polluted the very channels we’ve come to rely on so heavily.
In short, the quantitative revolution as we know it is now over, and if we are to continue building customer relationships, we need to embrace qualitative evolution.
The problem with content marketing, up until now, has been lack of transparency. Brands have been too keen to masquerade messages as impartial editorial because they worry that if they author content themselves, readers will assume there is an ulterior motive and be less inclined to interact with it. For a while, this might have worked. Not anymore.
Readers today are savvy – alarmingly, scarily savvy. They have access to more information from more sources than any generation in history. They know when they are being sold to. They understand when brands market products to them. The key point, though, is: They don’t care.
Readers are increasingly agnostic about the origins of content they are reading, provided the material they are consuming is worth consuming.
Nakedness is content quality assurance
As marketing content becomes increasingly ubiquitous, we have a unique opportunity now to redefine high quality content into a mature art form, one that is progressive and scalable, and that evolves with our audiences. It’s time for naked content.
We need to be loud and proud with our digital marketing strategy, to shed our restrictive cloaks of corporate discourse and embrace the freedom of well-written, targeted content. We need to let our creativity all hang out, to embrace the sultry art of storytelling and start stimulating our readers with a narrative that is transparent at its core.
Naked content is about reminding ourselves that we as marketers are all consumers as well. We know what we enjoy reading about, and we know what we find engaging. By throwing our content marketing plan to the enquiring gaze of our customers, we are putting ourselves out there. We’re saying, “Read me, share me, enjoy me … but most importantly, engage with me.”
We’ll measure, analyze and inspect these interactions, learning what works and what doesn’t. There will be some hard truths as people judge our content marketing solutions, as its elements may not be quite as popular as we thought, and some may even take advantage of our nakedness. But our transparency will ultimately be the building blocks of a healthy, long-term customer relationship model, one where each party feels fulfilled by the other.
Quality content marketing is all about having a conversation with consumers. It is about telling them a story, adding value to their day. It’s about engaging with them through the channels they use and on topics they find interesting. If we try and dress up our content as something that is not – if we lie to our partners – the trust will dissolve and the relationship will be broken. Naked content revitalizes that good customer relationship with honesty and opens a dialogue that is free from guilt and suspicion.
In fact, naked content could just save our relationship with consumers.