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The Key to Winning in 2016: Invest in Content

Jeremy Goldman
The Key to Winning in 2016: Invest in Content

You’ve doubtlessly heard it before, but investing in content is going to be key to your 2016 marketing efforts. When it comes to content, there aren’t many experts better than Shane Santiago, the Vice President and Digital Director at St. John & Partners.

I had the pleasure of speaking to Santiago for Firebrand Group’s latest ebook, 20.16 Big Ideas for 2016, which features 20.16 “Big Ideas” that marketing experts recommend taking advantage of in the year ahead.

Here’s some of my conversation with Santiago.

Q: “Content” has been a bit of a land-grab lately, and a sound bite you hear often at conference. How do you actually succeed with content?

A: The trick is making it meaningful and in the appropriate context. Successful content is about providing value to the end user, while at the same time being true to your brand. So then users will equate that value to the brand. It’s just as much about what you say as how (often) you say it.

Q: How does a brand determine what types of content will be most aligned w/their strategy? And when you say “Invest” do you mean in terms of budget, or time, or a combination?

A: It starts with research and ends with measurement. Knowing what resonates with your audience from both perspectives as “what” they want to see and “when” they want to see it is key. Sounds a lot like the old TV model, which wouldn’t be inaccurate to say, but in 2016 there are so many channels in which to reach people in a meaningful way versus the old model of appointment viewing in one room in the house.

In terms of investment, all of the above! Budget allocations come from providing brands with true ROI models so they can at the very least shift budget dollars to less effective channels to more effective ones. From an agency perspective, I think time and talent are the biggest investments you can make. Content isn’t simply about taking TV spots and placing them in social channels. It’s about using each channel/medium in a way that is optimal for user experience. At the end of the day – and I know I keep harping on this, it has to be valuable for the consumer!

Q: “Content” has also been a bit of a catch-all phrase. What types of content do you think will take off in 2016?

Video is going to continue to be a hero, but VR is kind of exploding right now, especially with the proliferation of access to VR tools in affordable ways like “Cardboard.” But it can also be utilized in perhaps unexpected ways such as branded keyboards in messaging apps that provide a unique connection for a user and a brand in a very personal way.

Google Cardboard

Photo: Maurizio Pesce

Q: Which brands do you think have already done a good job at investing in content?

A: Marriott (shameless client plug!) has done a phenomenal job in investing in content. They shook up their entire corporate infrastructure and ultimately spun up an internal content studio doing things from VR to even feature films. All with the goal of – here it is again – providing value to their consumers above and beyond “making the sell.” We’ve been lucky to be a part of that with our work on Marriott Traveler.

I’ve been impressed with Under Armour, Gatorade, even a couple of automotive brands have been doing a good job in integrating their communications which is the ultimate goal of a sound content strategy.

Jeremy Goldman is an entrepreneur, author, strategist and founder of the Firebrand Group. You can follow him @jeremarketer. If you’d like to read more from Anstey’s peers, such as such as Nolan Bushnell (founder of Atari), Zvi Band (Founder of Contactually), Alexa von Tobel (Founder & CEO of LearnVest), and many more, access Firebrand’s entire ebook here. And here’s wishing you lots of success at rolling with the punches in all your 2016 launches.

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Content strategy has changed over the last couple of years. The focus is still providing value to businesses. They have been more strategic about the type of content they publish online; some are blogging less often but with deeper content to produce strong evergreen article relevant to their business. Others are sharing more thoughtful pieces of content to the right people. Providing value might have been enough to get attention to impact your business, but it's also very essential to create the type of coherent online visibility you need to establish relationships.
Kathleen Burns
Super Hero
Well said! You saved the day with this thoughtful comment. :)

I think that content marketing has a lot of "noise" at the moment, which is why we see more and more businesses stressing the need for strategy and understanding target audiences.
Kathleen Burns
Thank you Kathleen. You're right, content marketing is making a noise in the digital industry, and that businesses are now doing their best to adopt this new trend.
Kathleen Burns
Super Hero
You're welcome! I think the biggest shift we will see is an increase in the demand for meaningful and valuable content, not basic tips or article summaries.

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