Breakthrough marketing is harder than ever. And yet, it’s never been more important.
Consumers are inundated with marketing messages at every turn. But inciting interest from an individual, much less turn them into a buyer, takes more than a catchy subject line or a flashy social media campaign. The brands that have been successful at creating sustained customer relationships realized a new approach was needed, one steeped in content focused on demonstrating value and building trust by serving up helpful content at the right moment.
This embrace of content is precisely what news publishers have been doing for decades and why more and more brands are approaching their content marketing like publishers.
Connecting in a fast and incredibly complex world
Operating in such an environment is innate to publishers—how to swiftly deliver the information their audiences seek, whether it’s breaking news, lifestyle trends, the latest sports scores and updates—while being adept at turning waves of stories and follow-up into real relationships with readers.
By producing credible, compelling content when readers need it, publishers establish the same kind of trust that marketers seek to develop between their brand and consumers. Here’s where brands emulating that strategy are focusing their efforts and investments:
Growing credibility through expertise
At The Washington Post, the staff believes in the power of the reader relationship. Beyond employing a body of seasoned and storied journalists telling the stories of the day, The Post has embraced the careful implementation of data tools to compile rigorous first-party data profiles. This helps the entire organization, from business to editorial, shape content presentation to suit the needs and desires of the reader based on actual user behavior. When augmented by additional data, a clear roadmap emerges based on expressed content needs and desires. Analysis of this data drives further evolution of The Post’s content strategy, based on a robust understanding of what its audience trusts it for.
When brands make the choice to think like a publisher, they shift perspective from business goals toward a customer’s goals. Rather than endless quantities of brand-centric, product-focused content, centering around the buyer’s perspective allows for the development of meaningful, relatable content, whether through coverage of a broad trend or detailed focus on a niche development, that creates trust and continued engagement.
Publishers also understand that the relationship with their readers is established and deepened over time, story-by-story. Like publishers, brands need to look beyond a single campaign and think of establishing trust and proven expertise to their audience by forming a real relationship with their customers that isn’t based on a single product offering. Prospective customers seek out engaging content on topics they’re interested in, often to gain insights, solve problems, or enhance experiences. Marketers should develop useful, high-quality, and thoughtful content to earn the focus of curious consumers. Rather than sales messaging, content marketing focuses on audience needs and helps establish lasting rapport. The sales will follow.
Brand should follow the lead of their publisher counterparts and put a prominent focus on developing a content strategy based on their brand’s values and core mission, one that leans on data-driven user-profiles and user-centric research. This will additionally allow them to uncover adjacent user interests and needs that a content strategy should include beyond those topics directly related to your brand.
As consumers gather more knowledge through content, they become more aware of what their challenges are—but not exactly how to solve them. This is where brands can take the next step and offer content that steps up product details and where it makes sense to use compare/contrast tools, develop creative demos and share real-life user experiences.
Once a potential customer reaches the decision-making stage, it’s time to offer more detailed content, such as freemium versions, one-on-one demonstrations, trial periods and more. Through careful analysis of consumer behavior during these different phases, content marketers offer up just the right level of detail when most needed.
Creating buyer-centric content delivered the moment it matters most
Busy customers may appear to make quick decisions about which brand to trust and purchase—or discard. But their decisions aren’t hasty. They’re informed by a company’s presence across communication channels. Each interaction, no matter how fleeting, leaves an impression that leads to action or inaction.
What news publishers have long understood is how to curate information readers need in real-time. When news breaks—whether it’s a national tragedy or a pop-culture phenomenon—responding lightning-fast with the most relevant, well-edited take is where the media shines. Readers can quickly scan thoughtfully presented content pushed out across websites, apps, social platforms, wearables and beyond to draw conclusions and form opinions.
Marketers need to bake that same agility into their content creation and delivery. Activating consistent messaging with relevant and timely developments across all marketing channels builds brand awareness and interactions that lead to ongoing engagement.
When creating that content, news publishers and brands both contend with managing distributed teams, multiple locations, and various functions. But news publishers have a unique history of managing complex content workflow due to the critical nature of their messaging and high stakes when it comes to errors. Dealing with production across large content teams, often in various locations, and at high volumes (some large news publishers produce 500+ pieces of content a day) is the norm. A shared internal commitment to the value of content-centric marketing, when combined with a powerful content management system, can help businesses maximize efforts.
Increasingly news publishers and brands alike utilize digital experience platforms to power content creation with high-level personalization and foster superior workflows and ensure rapid deployment of targeted content across channels. More than just a robust content management system, DXPs such as Arc XP put marketers in the center of the content world, driving tailored experiences for consumers that lead to ongoing customer relationships. At the same time, Arc XP’s approach to the DXP includes publishing-mindset capabilities that enable increased workflow optimization and tech scalability.
As brands continue to rethink their marketing strategies to attract and engage customers, the path laid forth by news publishers – from content strategy to creation and delivery technology – offers a valuable roadmap.
News publishers know their readers and spend significant time and resources to continue learning what the audience wants to know—as well as what they need to know. Brands are committing dollars and internal resources to develop strong personas for prospects as they move through the buyer’s journey. For those brands finding success in thinking like a news publisher, rather than focusing on goal-centric campaigns, they’ve moved past a campaign mentality and instead are focused on growing their customer relationships by developing holistic, consistent messaging across marketing vehicles.