If I say, “I miss middle-of-the-night press checks”, am I dating myself?
There was something about the entire print process that connected marketers closely to the consumer, even down to choosing the paper and how it would feel in an audience’s hand. After carefully selecting the background design elements, you would take deliberate steps under a watchful eye as your message was laid across it. For certain, it was a slower process for getting your story out. But by the time you were at the printers, you had invested a vast amount of time and focus on the entire experience you were going to provide to your consumer through your printed piece.
Don’t get me wrong. Even with the majority of marketing efforts going digital, focusing on the consumer experience has always remained the priority for marketers. But to me, it had started to feel less connected. Campaigns stopped beginning with brainstorming sessions, storyboarding and consideration of different ways to tell a story. I even started to miss the tiring debates about what color and call to action would be the most effective when there was no luxury of A/B testing within a high-cost print run.
Instead, marketing planning shifted to defining who we were targeting and then determining what methods were touting the best metrics at a specific point in time. We started with the end of the story and then wrote the beginning to feed it into the specifications of the chosen platform. And though marketing efforts are nothing without metrics to prove value or help you steer your efforts – the change of emphasis took out some of the personal, common-sense strategy considerations that went into marketing planning. Though it is a luxury to be able to test and optimize on the fly as clicks are counted – especially when common sense is proved wrong, by following just the numbers we sometimes miss important components. We stop trusting our gut and some of the humanness and personality behind our brand story gets stifled.
Enter content marketing.
Yes, we have all been doing forms of it for quite awhile. But lately it is gaining the recognition it deserves and opening up the road for marketers to take journeys with their consumers. It is time again for marketers to look beyond the immediate analytics and earn their knowledge by listening to and conversing with consumers.
Call me an old-timer, but content marketing is bringing me back to the good old days; the “common sense” approach. We are back to trying different things, putting ourselves in the place of consumers, creating settings, developing stories, exploring what works and doesn’t, and continually refining. It is about a process — taking your time and using your creativity to get the story right.
As content marketing starts bringing together the best of old and new, it is our companies that will be the winners. The inbound leads that are won are not only less expensive to acquire but are from an audience that has developed an attachment to a brand that results in loyalty. This group is also much more apt to pass your story on to others.
Storytelling does work. And in a digital age it saves a bundle in printing costs! Now you just need to find a good writer.