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In the name of love: why content marketing is such a steamy affair

Written by Kris Herbert
Published on 16th Jun, 2018

Creative Agent founder, Kris Herbert, looks at the what content marketing can learn from relationships and what relationships can learn from content marketing.

It’s an awkward first date. You found each other on the internet. You have needs that you’re hoping they might be able to fill. Ideally, this will be the one you can trust for the long term. You’ll be able to forget about constantly comparing all the others.

The best interactions between brands and customers should play out like a love affair. My heart flutters when I slide open a slick new box from Apple or when I am greeted with a warm “Kia Ora” when boarding an Air New Zealand flight in an overseas port.

But as we all know, relationships are difficult. They require constant learning. As time moves on, if we don’t get better at being together, we inevitably grow apart.

Content marketing is a way of marketing that puts relationships first. Like a good lover, content marketing looks for ways to make me feel special, it draws me in with humour or intrigue. It solves my problems or helps me grow. And in return, I fall in love.

When marketing interrupts me, hassles me or talks down to me, I am quick to file for divorce. Unsubscribe. Refuse to purchase. I admit I have high expectations, but I’m really not that hard to please. You just have to care enough to try.

But the thing that keeps me awake at night are the what if’s - the ideas that start tumbling around when I think of just how far we could push this metaphor.

Consider this. Global marketing spend is more than $500 billion per year. A big number, right? Especially, when compared to, oh, I don’t know, the UN budget at $14 billion. So let’s say that 10% of the global marketing budget went looking for love in much better places. That could be five times more powerful than global peacekeeping, diplomacy, development and UNICEF - combined.

There’s no shortage of problems out there that need solving. A few of them are certainly relevant to the audience you’re trying to woo. And they won’t be solved by banner ads.

By treading into this territory you run the risk of mucking up. But you stand to gain the opportunity to do something great. And you will certainly have a story worth telling, which is a story worth sharing. You are likely to light a fire in your employees, tap into earned media and accelerate your reach. It could be a risk worth taking.

But even if you’re not ready to go all the way, consider diverting a portion of your interruption marketing to experiment with a simple content approach. It starts with story.

In its simplest form, a story has three parts: a character, a conflict and a resolution. Luckily, in most organisations, characters abound. Employees, customers, founders and partners are all people we can care about. They all have problems and if your company is part of a resolution, or solution, then the story is complete. The higher the stakes, the more elevated the impact, the greater the surprise, the more uncertain the outcome, the more glued we will be to the story.

Attention is the scarcest commodity out there. To capture and keep it, try mixing up a content marketing love potion.

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kris herbert

Kris Herbert, Creative Agent

I'm an award-winning journalist, storyteller and content creator. After 20 years in print media, I'm exploring new ways to tell stories wth content marketing and location-based storytelling.