Weak content is killing your brand

Fergus Stoddart

Fergus is the founder and commercial director for Edge, the independent strategic content marketing agency. As the original founder of Edge in 2003, Fergus is a recognised thought leader on content marketing. He has a wealth of experience and has spent a decade devising and launching customer engagement strategies for many blue chip companies and brands. Edge's clients include Woolworths, Volkswagen, Westpac, Australia Post and Foxtel.

Marketers are now realising content marketing can no longer be ignored. In fact, 65 per cent of Australian marketers plan to increase their content marketing spend over the next 12 months. The challenge they face, however, is to produce content with a real return on the bottom line.

This difficulty may come from the fact content marketing as a discipline is still in its early stages in this country and therefore remains in the realm of the unknown for many companies. But it is also – and largely - due to a lack of strategic planning.

This must change. Consumers are facing increasing demand for their attention and becoming more commercially astute, so the quality of content produced is becoming even more crucial.

A blanket approach to content marketing, where content is put out to the market without having first established a solid strategy, will not deliver the return on investment it should, and could even damage your brand. The internet is littered with these failed attempts. Consider product copy, for example. Companies invest serious dollars and hours in a website design only to rush the content, which ends up lacking personality and consideration. What impression does that leave the customer with?

Before even thinking of producing content, it’s critical to carefully define your business’ vision, audience and value proposition. Without a clear vision, your content marketing will lack focus and consistency, which could lead to confused messages being presented to your audience.

You must then embark on a journey to understand your customers - thoroughly. What are their interests and needs? Behaviours and habits? Demographic details? How are you going to segment your customers so that personalised content can be presented to them?

Once your vision and audience have been well thought out, you can start developing your content. Effective content is something that has found its point of difference, or ‘white space’ – the space that hasn’t been taken by competitors. That is where much of the content is currently failing; it’s been distributed without a unique value proposition sure to capture customers’ attention. Establishing this difference is not an easy feat, but one that will set strong content apart from the weak.

A good example of a campaign effectively exploiting an identified white space is Australia Post’s Business Lounge. As SMBs are time-poor and often isolated, the Business Lounge is an online forum that allows SMB owners to connect, learn and share with a like-minded community on their own time.

Through the Business Lounge, Australia Post provides targeted content including articles, tools and resources helpful to the SMB market and not easily available in other forums. The proof is in the results as revenue targets for this initiative were exceeded by 300 per cent.

If not created and distributed with a planned and thought out strategy, your content can affect the perception of your brand and leave you with little results to show for your efforts. So let’s get serious about this and create strategic content that impacts customer behaviour. Now that makes perfect business sense.

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