In today’s competitive marketplace, the question is not whether to create branded content — it’s how much you can produce and how relevant can it be. According to a 2022 Media Planning Guide from research giant Nielsen, content-focused tactics such as branded websites and editorial content that encompasses owned pieces and earned media garnered consumer trust ratings of 84% and 78%, respectively. By contrast, among the six forms of digital ads mentioned in the Nielsen analysis, none scored above 67%, with many ranking lower.
From podcasts to documentaries to guides to good old-fashioned blogs, it’s no wonder every ambitious brand has entered the content game. At Wilks Communications Group, we recognize that the pressure to produce a steady stream of high-quality content can be daunting, particularly for smaller organizations or those newer to content marketing. In our experience, keeping a few key principles in mind can shorten a brand’s journey from “what content?” to content that wows.
1. Strategy comes first.
When you’re passionate about your brand, it’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of telling your story in a gorgeous video or elaborate photo essay. Yet too often, marketers end up wondering if such one-off tactics were actually worth the time and investment.
While we certainly appreciate a high-value creative showpiece, a strategic agenda and broader content plan must always come first. Rather than “what should we make?” we encourage clients to first ask “why are we making content at all?” Once you have identified the objective, you’re in a better position to determine the most appropriate content tactics and associated calls to action that will prompt the desired audience outcome.
Keep in mind that a solid content distribution and promotion plan is an essential component of good up-front strategy. Simply posting great material on a website or YouTube channel will not move the needle unless you put the right mechanisms in place to drive traffic to those assets.
2. Don’t conflate digital advertising and content marketing.
Content marketing is an amazing tool for driving both awareness and long-term love and trust for your brand. Driving immediate sales? Probably not. According to a recent TechCrunch analysis, it takes about 4 touchpoints to drive a purchase — and that’s assuming some of those touchpoints are direct ads. Content engagement plays a nuanced and important relationship-building role along this multi-touch journey, but its impact on sales can take time, and be difficult to measure.
We encourage clients to make peace with this reality before committing to a content marketing program. That means establishing achievable content success metrics such as views, click-through rates and sharing — not looking for in-session purchases as “proof” of content value.
3. Repurpose, recycle, reinvent.
In a healthy content marketing program, every asset contributes to multiple possible audience impressions. This efficient repurposing is one of the secrets to maintaining a steady pulse of content without overspending on creative production.
Take this example: a “flavor trends” article may feature great photos and a custom infographic that illustrates emerging popular flavors. The same visual assets can take on new life in social posts promoting the article, and surface yet again in an email driving to the same destination. Perhaps a couple of months later a second trend piece features video coverage of a food show, with short video cut-downs repurposed for social promotion. At year-end, both of these trend stories (and others) might form the basis for a roundup framed as a “year in review” report. This robust content asset could be produced with very little effort by aggregating existing text and visual material.
Tremendous efficiency can also be gained by repurposing seasonal material year-over-year. Re-promoting last year’s holiday recipe with a fresh, of-the-moment headline is not cutting corners — it’s a smart way to optimize. We recommend keeping this long-term value in mind when assessing the year-one costs of establishing a content program.
4. Remember that events (live or virtual) are another form of content.
A branded event such as a cooking or mixology class can be used to efficiently generate multiple valuable content off-shoots like recipe guides, tips & tricks articles, short-form how-to videos and more. While it does take some extra effort, planning and cost to capture these assets during an event, the investment is well worth it. A long tail of unique, high-value branded content transforms a one-off event into an evergreen asset you can reactivate indefinitely in service of your brand.
At Wilks Communications Group, we help marketers build strategic, efficient content programs with enduring brand value. Whether you’re new to the discipline, or are ready to take your content marketing to the next level, we’d love to start a conversation and support your success.