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How to stay ahead of the content marketing game

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How to stay ahead of the content marketing game

It seems like every day there’s a new trend in marketing: whether it’s NFTs or unfounded claims that entire channels are ‘dead’. It can be difficult, particularly for new marketers or those in small teams to resist the allure of the next shiny thing, particularly when it’s gaining a lot of traction in the media or appeals to non-marketing leadership.

When the industry is moving this fast, how can you stay ahead and feel comfortable in your tactical choices for the next 12 months? In this blog, we’ll explore why it’s so important to double down on the marketing fundamentals and how to carefully evaluate each new trend as it arises.

Customer centricity

Your number-one ally in combating shiny object syndrome and not spending too much time scrolling Twitter and worrying about your strategy is to remain ruthlessly customer focused, at the exclusion of all else. Too many companies focus too heavily on sales, their product or their financial performance, instead of on their customers. According to Forbes, “customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than companies that aren’t”. Lots of companies claim to be customer-centric but few really are when it boils down to it. This is a culture change and requires executive buy-in to really listen to customer feedback and understand their pains and problems. 

When beginning your marketing strategy, in order to deliver consistent value to your target audience, you should begin with understanding them – market research, whether qualitative, quantitative or, if you’re a one-man band, simply sitting in the room with them, should be the first step. This makes it easier when, down the line, a new shiny tactic comes out: refer back to your customer research and where they hang out, and consider if NFTs are really going to be where you find your target.

Value proposition mapping

At Retail Week we’re big fans of B2B International’s Value Proposition Canvas. Once you’ve oriented yourself towards your market, segmented it into homogenous groups and selected which ones you’re going to target, it’s time to understand your position relative to their problems and jobs to be done. If, for example, you’re targeting chief marketing officers of department store chains, you can map out their pain points, challenges and how your products or services can create value or relieve problems for them. By going through this process, you come out with a solid value proposition framework that translates into your messaging. Having really strong messaging helps reduce tactic churn and shiny object syndrome because you can clearly articulate what you are and to who, which is often an effective rebuttal. 

Set clear objectives for marketing

Once you’ve targeted a segment and decided on your position in that market, you, in alignment with your company, set some objectives. They tend to be SMART, like ‘increase market share by 1% in the fashion industry in the UK’, or ‘increase unaided brand awareness in the CPG market between £1 million and £5 million in revenue in India’. This leads you to be able to select the tactics to deliver those objectives. 

The tactics you choose are based on a number of factors: research; past performance; and educated guesswork. Unfortunately, as with so many things in marketing, you don’t know without experimenting. Once you activate a tactic, like an e-book promotion on Facebook, keep a keen eye on if the results are stacking up to what you’d hoped over time. Then, when someone comes along with a new tactic idea, you can clearly point to what is working and what you are doing to continue to optimise your tactical choices.

Don’t attempt too many tactics at once

Tactic churn is a very real problem. When marketers jump between too many tactics, they risk undoing all the hard work that’s built up over time. Content marketing is a long game but in a world obsessed with instant gratification, it’s hard to push back and resist adding the latest new idea or the promise that some marketing gurus make on social media of instant results. Short-term thinking and looking only at the parts rather than the whole can be a significant cause of marketing strategy failure. It can also lead to poor employee engagement and retention issues if strategies are not given time to work and marketing teams are overloaded.

To stay ahead of the content marketing game, think strategically, long term and in alignment with your business objectives. Don’t risk your goals by trying to do too much at once.

Five quick questions

In order to hold to your strategy and respond to calls for the next tactic, consider the following questions to ask the leadership team:

  1. How does this tactic align with our target audience’s primary needs and wants?
  2. Can we evidence that our audience is spending time on this channel and will be over the long term?
  3. Where should we reduce effort to add this additional tactic?
  4. How does this tactic align with our market position?
  5. What is the objective of participating in this trend?

Working with a partner can also provide a useful sounding board or input to conversations around your long-term marketing plan. We work with a number of forward-thinking companies looking to reach retailers and we know the market inside out. Before you jump into the latest trend, why not get in touch for a review of your strategy? 

Contact isobel.chillman@retail-week.com to discuss your marketing needs.

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