Producing compelling content rapidly, at scale, and on any channel—what many of us are calling ‘Content Velocity’— is now a major challenge for marketers across industries, so it’s no surprise that at the recent Adobe Summit content marketing was high up on the agenda. And who better to give us the load-down on the latest content trends than Lukas Kircher, MD and creative guru at top content marketing agency C3. We tracked Lukas down to a great presentation he gave at Summit on C3’s approach to content marketing and his experience turning top brands (including Porsche, Volkswagen and Allianz, to name just a few) into content powerhouses. Content marketers listen up! Here are some take-outs from Lukas’s presentation:
Content marketing: why, how and what
The ‘why’: According to Lukas, content marketing has become an imperative for brands because it meets their essential need (“the essential logic”, as Lukas puts it) of continually engaging with their audiences. Businesses need to constantly “show up” with their audiences, wherever those audiences sit (and on the audience’s own terms), and they can only meet this need by becoming full-time content producers.
The ‘how’: Delivering personalized content at scale requires a fundamental rethink of how companies approach technology. A flexible publishing platform needs to be backed by the ability to mine and interpret large troves of data on the market environment and the brand’s customers—and respond quickly. It’s a marriage of creative tools and data science capabilities, which in turn has implications on how businesses structure themselves and even how they physically organize their staff (a bit more detail on this further down).
The ‘what’: The ultimate goal of good content marketing is brand communication that is ‘always on’ but also compelling and accurately targeted. Fundamental to this, says Lukas, is creativity – great content cannot just be algorithmically produced.
What makes great content marketing?
Many things, but Lukas offered his thoughts on a few basic principles:
First, besides needing to be “always on”, content needs to be conversational. It needs to talk to (and with) audiences, not at audiences. Increasingly it needs to be hyper-personalized. And it cannot be over-centered on the brand. As Lukas puts it: “If you spend a first date just talking about yourself, it’s unlikely you’ll be invited to a second date.”
Second, conversational content requires constant listening—permanent tracking of news, social chatter, community discussions, and events – and then finding meaningful responses to engage. Critically, brands need to invest in capabilities that let them not just listen but also derive patterns from the chatter that lead to actionable insights.
Brand content also needs to be diverse—across formats and different channels, but also in terms of depth and range of coverage. It also needs to be easy to consume (what Lukas calls “consumable experiences”) for a public that is time-starved, with short attention spans, and overloaded with digital entertainment every day.
Lastly, content needs to be transactional: It needs to be tied to measurable KPIs via intelligent data collection and analysis, and deliver on a business objective – what Lukas terms “performance marketing through content”.
A new organizational model around content
Lukas also touched on the massive organizational changes being brought on by content marketing. On the agency side, C3 has completely revamped its team structure, moving away from the traditional agency model hubbed around creatives and account handlers, to a structure centered completely on a data insights team. This team then informs the activity of planning, campaign, social, technology, experience, and content production teams clustered around it.
New times require new organizational structures.
A similar approach is replicated by C3 on the client side, where the agency embeds its staff among the brand’s own teams to create a “newsroom” structure hubbed around a brand news desk – much like the traditional editorial structure of newspapers. The news team is surrounded by campaign, brand communication, and content marketing teams. This is not just a virtual team structure – it’s the way the team is physically organized day to day, right on the client premises. Lukas says that most of C3’s job on the client side comes down to change management – how to adapt clients to structuring themselves (and therefore thinking) in this way. Gone is the old team structure centered on the marketing department.
Creativity at the core
Finally, Lukas reminded us that, no matter what the advances in technology, creativity still lies at the core of great content marketing. And it’s bold thinking and the willingness to take risks—founded on trust in an idea—that makes for creativity. Says Lukas: “Success requires trust in the strategic plan and the organizational model to implement it, because only trust frees people to be creative and innovative.” Inspirational!
Header image copyright: C3