Every brand has a story to tell – don’t fluff your lines

The majority of brands (73%) plan to invest in some form of content marketing this year, according to the Content Marketing Association (CMA). But with the abundance of digital platforms on offer to bring brand stories to consumers in so many forms it’s a shame all marketers aren’t looking to put an emphasis on content in the coming months.

Lara O'Reilly

Some people may disagree with this statement, but every brand has a story to tell. If you don’t think your brand has a right to be on social media, blogs, mobile, video or within a magazine then marketing probably wasn’t the wisest career choice to make.

Content marketing initiatives are expected to reach around 70% of UK adults a month, the CMA claims. Perhaps a more important stat from the trade body to consider is that 61% of consumers say such marketing makes them feel more positive towards a brand. Another stat for your armoury, if you’re still not convinced, is that 53% of people that consume content marketing say it makes them want to buy products from that brand.

Yes, even brands like drain cleaner and sanitary towels and all the other “boring” or “embarrassing” products have the right to produce content.

Unfortunately, if you’re one of those slightly less appealing brands – and indeed a brand that’s deemed cooler for consumers to associate themselves with – “branded content” isn’t as easy as setting up a Twitter account or a blog in a bid to tout products. Brands need to look back at their core values in order to tell stories that will resonate, which should also determine which platform could be used.

For a tampon brand, that could be content to help dispel popular myths about women’s health issues; an oven cleaner brand could produce a short video series on keeping the kitchen sparkling; a paracetamol brand could provide a forum for sufferers of migraines to help support each other. You can have those for free.

World Toilet Day is a fantastic example. “World Toilet Day” isn’t exactly a badge people would proudly pin to their chests and rarely do members of the public disrupt their busy lives to ponder on the global toilet crisis.

Water.org decided to draw attention to the cause with an injection of humour by drafting in actor Matt Damon to encourage people to #TalkShit for one week about global sanitation issues. Facebook and Twitter users could also choose to sign up to “donate their voice” and have the charity’s daily posts sent out from their own accounts.

The campaign gathered a lot of attention – not least because it used expletives to hammer home its cause – and managed to get people across the world talking about the difficult issue of plumbing. More than 4,000 people signed up to have Water.org automatically post updates on their behalf, reaching more than 1 million users on social media – not to mention the user generated content from the subsequent discussion the posts triggered.

Water.org’s content piece worked because it had an authentic story at its heart but also clever marketing at the core, which was supported across the charity’s marketing functions.
If a brand is going to embark on a content marketing initiative, it can’t work in a silo and investment is needed to make it work effectively – however good the author is.

Adam Johnson, head of brand and campaigns at Nokia, told me that when the company was preparing to stage its 3D projection Deadmau5 gig on London’s Millbank Tower last year it invested heavily in ensuring other brands did not hijack the event.

Nokia went as far as buying all the equipment powerful to project across the Thames just in case a rival thought to steal its thunder. It also bought up all the search terms related to the gig to ensure consumers knew “Nokia did this” are were pointed towards the YouTube video of the event if they could not make it on the day.

If you make the decision to invest in the first step – the content – it’s important investment is also made throughout your brand’s digital assets, such as SEO, email, the brand website and social media. Don’t let the conversation end at the opening gambit.

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