In the last few years we’ve solidified content marketing as a practice that strategically builds valuable relationships with audiences. Successful marketers have moved beyond the notion of creating content merely as brochures and websites and moved into looking at content as a foundational element of the business. A foundation that must be acknowledged, planned, created and managed as carefully as any other product our companies sell.
Let’s take a minute and look at how we deliver value to audiences through content…it creates a relationships much earlier than we ever have in the past. Long before someone is looking for someone to buy from, they’re figuring out if they even have a problem that needs solving. As content marketers, this is how we deliver value early and often. Instead of pushing products we need to start helping people solve problems.
In thinking about how we solve problems, it’s natural that we look at the experiences we create through content. That’s because the sum of how all of these experiences work together delivers a true customer experience. Interestingly, there’s quite a bit of overlap between content marketing and customer experience. Both…
- Begin with the needs of audiences (not just customers)
- Look to understand how to deliver value
- Architect experiences – which are driven by content – to deliver value
- Manage the delivery of the experiences through content
- Evaluate how well content and experiences are performing
- Refine experiences to deliver more meaning for audiences
Sharp brands have made huge shifts in how they look at content and its ability to build audiences. It’s not a tool, it’s a vital differentiator. Look at Kraft Recipes. Not only do they share content that drives commerce for its products, but they deliver a fantastic experience that helps its food-loving audience plan meals, holidays and parties. One of the things that business-to-business risk-management company Aon creates is an annual Political Risk Map. It helps international business executives understand what’s at stake when they think about doing business in hundreds of emerging economies around the world. These are examples of brands that have moved away from the traditional function of content, moved into differentiating themselves through content and now use it to drive their customer experiences.
Truthfully, it doesn’t matter if we credit this definition of “experiences” to content marketing or customer experience. The end goal is still the same – to create a larger audience, proactively deliver value and ultimately generate revenue. That’s why we’re seeing a strong interrelationship between content marketing and customer experience. Experiences are critical to building and deepening relationships with customers. But what drives them? Content. Content isn’t just used to support the customer experience; it actually is the customer experience.
Photo Credit: Flickr user Sciondriver
About Carla Johnson
@CarlaJohnson helps marketers unlock, nurture and strengthen their storytelling muscle so they can create delightful experiences for audiences. She works as a trusted advisor at the highest level of blue-chip brands to establish open conversations and instill creative confidence that develops highly prized teams and stellar business results. Her book with Robert Rose – Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing – is available on Amazon. Dig deeper at Type A Communications.