Monthly Archives: November 2013

Content marketing is easy? Dispelling the myths.

Content marketing, a mere concept a short while ago, has become part of mainstream marketing strategies for many food and beverage marketers. Some of the reasons for this shift in status reside in misconceptions about content marketing…like, it’s easy. Here are the content marketing myths that need to be dispelled.

1. Compared to other marketing channels, content marketing is easy: Nothing could be further from the truth. Content marketing is based on a process of getting acquainted, developing a relationship, and establishing trust with target audiences. The investment is long-term and so are the returns. By contrast, advertising is much easier in that a campaign is developed, creative is run in  appropriate media, for a specified period of time. The results are measured, for the most part, during and immediately after the campaign has ended. It is the repeated contact with target audiences over a long period of time by providing relevant content that builds the relationships and trust upon which a content marketing effort can be evaluated.

2. Content marketing can be accomplished with minimal time investments: In a 2014 B2B Content Marketing Trends report, the biggest challenge reported in maintaining a content marketing effort was a lack of time. When you consider the process of content marketing, it’s easy to understand this claim: a content strategy needs to be developed; continual creation of content that is time and labor intensive; distribution and continual promotion through email, social media, SEO, etc.; ongoing performance measurement and adjustment to the strategy. Content marketing is a valuable strategy, but it certainly does not fit on the short-term marketing strategies list.

3. Automation puts content marketing on auto-pilot: There are many routine functions of content marketing that can be successfully automated, but none of those involve content strategy and development, as well as continual promotion…the three most labor and time intensive functions. Food marketers who enter the content marketing arena assuming they can do some initial set-up and then forget it, will be sadly disappointed with the results.

4. Content marketing is pretty inexpensive: Expensive is a very relative term and some marketers assume that content marketing will always be the less expensive alternative among marketing strategies, such as advertising and media costs, or PR efforts. Content marketing does better accommodate smaller brands in that they can enter this arena for fewer dollars initially than the cost of a 30-second spot in prime-time, but big brands are spending big dollars on content marketing and their results reflect their elevated investment. Content marketing success is realized over years of consistent investment and content development, and that adds up to significant dollars.

5. Anyone on staff can handle the content marketing effort: Since content marketing is so time intensive, many marketers pass the buck on down the line, often to the least qualified staff member. Another assumption is that the youngest, although usually least experienced, staff members will be best suited for this task because they are more “tech savvy”. Creating relevant content on an ongoing basis requires experience and writing skill. Content marketing needs to be considered with the same importance as other skilled functions within the company and staffed with qualified individuals, as this is part of the overall investment in pursuing a content marketing strategy.

Content marketing is one of many strategies to be considered in an overall food and beverage marketing plan. However, like any marketing strategy, it is important to understand what you’re signing on for and to develop realistic expectations regarding timelines and measures of success.

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An integrated marketing plan…where do we start?

Some of the best known, most successful food brands have become so because they embraced social media early on and used the wealth of analytical data generated to optimize all of their marketing opportunities…they integrated their efforts.  An integrated marketing plan is the road map to managing a brand’s promotional efforts on paid, owned, and earned media channels.

To get the most out of advertising and marketing investments, here are the steps to develop an integrated marketing plan:

1. Define the purpose. The most common reason that marketing initiatives fail is because they were not born out of a well designed framework. The most basic question is this: why are you doing this marketing effort? The answers will lead to a clear definition of objective(s) and the strategies needed to achieve them.

2. Define the measures of success. Measures of success will follow from the defined objective(s). For example, if the objective is to create more brand awareness, a measure of success would be a 30 point lift in awareness, whereas an objective to increase sales would be measured by a 20% increase in sales volume. The measure of success will lead to the metrics to be examined. Each different objective will require its own set of measurement metrics.

3. Define the target audience. Use social media along with other traditional sources of audience data to examine consumer behavioral patterns. Online owned, earned and paid media data can be more easily analyzed through the use of dashboards.

4. Determine where the target audience hangs out online. If your target audience is fitness centric millennials, websites that cater to those interests would be candidates for media placement and targeted content.

5. Identify “influencers” and get to know them. These are the individuals who are active online communicators with a particular interest in your product category and brand. Establishing and maintaining open channels of communication with influencers can significantly expand your “sales force” through their brand advocacy and exposure.

6. Test for accuracy. Social media content that is  used to analyze target audience online behavior and messaging impact will include data you don’t want…spam, advertising, and other irrelevant or misleading information. Use a current version of a social media analytics application with the technological capability to filter out garbage data so that the resultant data set is trustworthy.

7. Define the brand’s position. Before effective messaging can be developed, brand positioning must be clearly defined. A thorough understanding of the brand and its consumers, as well as competitors, will determine its points of differentiation and, ultimately, its most effective message points.

8. Get ready to react in real-time.  Once a marketing campaign has been launched, monitoring performance through social analytics will provide real-time data and a real-time opportunity to react and make adjustments. Automatic notifications can be set-up when any unusual activity is detected that needs to be addressed quickly.

9. Measure campaign impact. Using a social analytics application and the measures of success previously defined, the overall impact of the campaign can be measured along with the impacts against specific benchmarks such as category and historical data. Measurement should also be made of paid and owned media as drivers of earned media to determine the ROI of media investments.

Following these steps will help ensure the development of an effective integrated marketing plan that maximizes the impact of all the campaign components.

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