7 CMOs share their content marketing dos and don’ts

CMO talks to marketing leaders from Tourism Australia, Qantas, Samsung, Pitney Bowes and more about their content marketing tactics, and how you can ensure your storytelling succeeds

Channel strategy: NRMA

Australian motoring insurance and services giant, NRMA, has a long history in producing content for its members, but until recently lacked a cross-channel strategy, as well as a clear plan on how content could contribute to its marketing efforts and brand messages, head of publishing, Emma Cornwell, said.

“We invest heavily in our Open Road magazine for members, do reviews and so on, but we’d never looked into how we could use this content better in engaging customers interactively, or on a daily basis,” she said. “We were also telling customers what they wanted to hear, as opposed to getting feedback, hearing about their interests.”

A little under three years ago, NRMA decided to change all that and “start a love affair with our customers”, Cornwell said. This wasn’t about creating a lot more content, but placing more emphasis on positioning and tailoring information for a variety of communication channels including social, EDMs, its MyNRMA information portal and YouTube.

“We’re constantly assessing the content that’s working, and doing things like transitioning our EDMs to be less openly offer-driven, and more member-driven,” Cornwell said. “With the car reviews that we’d usually do, such as something on a new Commodore model, we do a long technical review, which goes up on our site, but also produce a short video for our YouTube channel. We’ll then use that content but change the tone and make it more ‘snackable’ for our social channels.

“It’s also about content that supports the needs of the business, and where we can position content in a range of platforms to touch as many people as possible.”

To support its efforts, NRMA appointed its first digital content manager six months ago. The company has also brought on consultancy group, King Content, to help produce content that it hasn’t previously had any expertise or experience in as a way of pushing the boundaries of its brand. This also helps meet the diverse and changing needs of its customers, Cornwell said.

“You need to do it right, or not do it at all,” she advised. “Don’t just write content – you have to have a comprehensive and clear content marketing strategy. Good content is invaluable, but crappy content can destroy a brand.”

Other musts for Cornwell include constantly reassessing your content strategy on a regular basis and being agile, as well as recognising the ROI may be in the long-term. “Don’t think a small investment upfront will see it through,” she said. “Not everything happens quickly and you’re investing for the long-term. Content does play a role in conversion, but it’s a process.

“Also don’t write just about what the CEO or executives are passionate about; you are writing for your audience.”

Being adaptable: Qantas

Qantas head of digital for brand, marketing and corporate affairs, Jo Boundy, said it was the airline group’s increasing participation in digital and social platforms that triggered a change in the way it approaches content.

“We quickly realised we needed to become faster, more adaptable and more cost-effective in the way we produced content,” she said. “Users generate so much content within these channels that we had to adapt to ensure what we were doing remained engaging and relevant to our audience.

“As we adapt our content strategy we know it’s important that we really understand our audience – it’s not always about what we want.”

The Qantas team has made structural changes to help achieve this, including consolidating the digital team within the brand, marketing and corporate affairs department, and empowering the digital team to become content managers. It has also brought roles such as design, video and photography in-house.

“That’s given us much more flexibility and consistency, and has proved to be cost effective,” Boundy said. “It’s important we continue to look at what we’re doing to ensure that we evolve with the space and develop our thinking about what makes successful content.”

Finding the right story: Samsung, GE Capital

During the recent Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising (ADMA) event in Sydney in August, several brands also discussed their own content marketing experiences, and the lessons they’d learnt along the way.

For Samsung MD, Arno Lenier, content marketing is increasingly gaining importance as Samsung strives to lift the emotional connection consumers have with its products.

“Consumers love content provided it’s timely, credible and authentic,” he said. “It’s also about great storytelling – when you tell a great story and integrate products seamlessly, it’s a magic potion.”

At Samsung, the notion of scale – well told, well made and timely – is vital to the story. “You must choose your story, tell it well and choose your meaning wisely,” Lenier said.

The CMO of speciality lending group GE Capital, Suzanne Ristrevski, also highlighted the importance of content as part of her presentation on efforts to improve brand awareness among Australian corporations.

GE Capital identified an untapped opportunity in servicing Australia’s mid-market organisations, and decided to build its marketing program around their unique needs and challenges. A key component was to provide relevant content that these mid-market organisations could relate to, she said.

The content base GE used was research into the mid-market, produced in partnership with the Australian Graduate School of Management. From there, GE had the foundation for a range of content that backed up its thought leadership position, and could be delivered through multiple channels, Ristrevski said. This included producing a series of customer case study videos reflecting the challenges mid-market CFOs are facing, which also aligned with print and digital advertising material.

“You need a content plan that can support your overall advertising strategy,” she added. “Start to segment, then invest in a thought leadership story around this target market.

“When you spend on advertising, you have to give, not just get. Marketers need to give something back for customers around their expertise.”

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