Saturday, 10 December 2016

What you must know about Content Marketing

Narrative and story-telling make the content compelling!

No, this blog post is not about marketing Kennel service, rather it is about drawing the attention of the reader!

Effective content marketing is dependent clearly on the skills of five different  experts, namely, ICT experts, Language experts, and Engineering experts or  the manufacturers themselves, the legal expert and last but not least, the legal expert. Companies that do not have all four experts on board will fail to have an effective marketing strategy. An example of what happens when you don’t have a legal expert on your team is brought out in the example of how   few advertisements have been accused of gender discrimination, objectification of women, and the mistake of making false claims. One of these ascribes to the claim that using a specific deodorant would attract the opposite sex! I would like to add here that advertisements are very much an integral part of content marketing! 

Nor is it the intention of the writer of this blogpost to market electronic components!

I run a blog, that you are reading right now, and yes, I would like to boost my SEO ratings, and get an Alexa rank too! I have been advised to use a lot of gimmicks such as memes, graphics, hash tags, info graphics and what not! It would not be wrong to state that all, if not few bloggers, writers and journalists to name a few are, in their own rights, content marketers and that makes me one too! Unfortunately, I am not very good at designing images and graphics but believe that narrative is what comes more naturally to me!

Graphics can be compelling to the eyes, but then this is neither about selling chairs!

However, it takes more than gadgets and the so called balance between text and graphics to make content marketable. A lot of content that I see on websites and in printed formats is attractive. It is presented in such a way that your eye is drawn to it, whether it is because of that alluring model in the foreground, (actually competing with the product itself) or the pleasing graphics, or perhaps even the colour scheme itself. In many cases however, when the targeted customer looks deeper into the matter, he or she is left with more questions and queries about the product. What makes matters worse is that if the target audience is a discerning and educated one, then grammatical errors, flaws in expression and those niggling spelling errors that stand out like a sore thumb in an otherwise well organised content will become great stumbling blocks for the firm that is marketing the product.

It is all about gold, isn't it?

For the discerning and well informed target audience it is what lies deeper in the content that matters. I guess they are more likely to read between the lines and even go through the fine print rather than go through the pleasing graphics and colour scheme of the content that might please a few but not satisfy the curiosity of many! The flaws in narrative and written content will damage the efficacy of a well-designed web post, or even a travel brochure, leading to a dip in trustworthiness and even sales of the end product.’'-*

No I am not marketing Orbeez balls in any case!

This brings us back to the question of what Content Marketing is. To answer this question I would like to take the liberty of quoting  Stewart Schley, “Content marketing aims to attract and persuade business customers by presenting them with interesting information in the forms of articles, blog posts, papers, videos and podcasts that engage audiences, generate favourable impressions and ultimately support buying decisions.”-How to put more (and better) content into content marketing   What will draw the eye of the reader is the eye-catching graphics but what will sustain the interest of the target audience is the “interesting information” that is provided in the content. To make the information interesting, there should be a narrative, and to make the narrative compelling, we need to have a story. What makes the story compelling is the flow of narrative and what make the flow of ideas smooth is the quality of syntax and semantics!

Content marketing needs to cater to a discerning audience.

This brings me to the argument, therefore, that writing of content material for advertising a product should be delegated to language experts and not technicians or experts in other fields though I don’t suggest in any way that they are incapable of supplying information on the product! Experts in languages can therefore celebrate the fact that Content Marketing can be a viable profession for them besides teaching languages and working as translators or transcribers! Content writing for content marketing purposes depends mainly on narrative and the ability to tell a story. Strangely enough, it does not require a very long narrative to tell a story, and often, some of the best stories are conveyed in the shortest number of words.

It is not my intention to let you linger on this picture of Orbeez balls but to let you continue with the narrative!

At the beginning of this article, I talked about how content marketing depends on five different fields of expertise which include ICT skills, Language skills, Legalese, knowledge about Psychology, and Technical expertise  (about the product), however it is possible to train a single person in at least three or more fields. A language expert can be trained in Law, and Psychology, while the ICT expert and the technical expert can be maintained as independent experts. What this means effectively is that when you combine the skills of a good story-teller with those of proficiency in legalese, and a sound knowledge of Psychiatry, then you get a good content developer. The art of story-telling is something that few content developers really focus on. Nothing can beat the effectiveness of a good story that has a hook in the beginning and a suitable conclusion at the end! This reminds me about how effective some “Testimonies” are in prayer meetings. Induction events involving new appointees, or in some cases even prospective employees in some organisations are built around narratives and stories extolling the transformational impact of a particular faith or even the cultural ethos of an organisation. “Testimonies”  and induction ceremonies entail exhaustive content development strategies and planning. They are examples of effective content marketing, examples from which a lot can be learnt.
I guess, I made a point, didn't I?

The Ants vs Anteater motivational video about team work, published on January 8, 2013 describes how unity and team work can help defeat adversities and adversaries. Most of the readers of this blogpost will recall seeing the animated video of ants coming together to defend one of them from being sucked into the mouth of an anteater. The second video is based on an animation sequence of crabs gathering together to defend themselves from the attack of a seagull. The advertisement for a transport company is a example of  effective content marketing because it has a story and a narrative that is compelling.  Besides delivering an important message about the strength of togetherness, it also attempts to convince the viewer to travel together.

*How to put more (and better) content into content marketing
Stewart Schley

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