As the world revolves around buying and selling, companies have become cutthroat and rather ingenious in their ways to predict how customers will interact with their brand. Through models called “personas,” marketing and design teams can create a cast of characters that make up groups of their customer base. These personas are created through market and user research, giving accurate pictures of what the real customers look like, their needs, and how a person’s business/product/service fits into their day to day lives.
It’s no secret that the beauty industry thrives on social media. Many of the premier makeup and skincare brands have built empires – millions of followers, a horde of influencers, and a brand presence that conveys exactly their standpoint on aesthetics. While the beauty industry has been rather concerned about products that go on one’s face, the nail industry has been booming as well. Influencers like SimplyNailogical, cutepolish, and Nail Career Education have made nail polish exciting again in the past couple of years. Because of the hype from these online influencers, consumers – especially young girls – began to take an interest again with nail polish. This was great for the industry, but for the brands themselves, they needed to make focusing on social media a priority.
Trader Joe’s is a specialty grocery store, popular across the United States. Their brand is eccentric, fun, and showcases unique food products and ingredients from around the world to encourage their customers to try new things. Founder, Joe Coulombe, started the business to bring interesting, hard to find products to local communities. Today, Trader Joe’s still follows this mission. With innovative products like Cauliflower Gnocchi and their infamous Cookie Butter, Trader Joe’s fulfills customer’s needs for affordable, diverse, and healthy eating.
Take a moment to think about your day. How many people did you call? Did you send off more emails than you received? When you politely disagreed with someone, did you furrow your brows? Whether you inherently notice it or not, humans are always communicating with one another. Through body language, vocalization, and specialized squiggles called “letters” we are able to transmit our ideas and feelings. Steady advancements in telecommunication through the 19th century to the present day allows us the option to choose the best delivery method and how exactly we will converse. Recently, industry experts have expressed worry that technology is overtaking our cultures and institutions because it develops so much quicker. How can we, as a society, be on a level playing field with objects that upgrade every year or so? (Here’s looking at you, Apple.)
In this era of digital consumption, pieces of information are being catapulted across the Internet at speeds that defy traditional methods of sharing. Word of mouth, newspapers, and even television have succumbed to mighty online sharing avenues like social media, websites, and apps. Within seconds, information can be published and shared all across the globe – reaching huge, diverse audiences that digest content in a variety of ways. Some audiences are serial sharers that click “retweet” or “share to timeline” without even batting an eye. Other audiences are keen, silent absorbers that thoroughly investigate content that grabs their attention. Whichever audience you may fall into, one thing rings true – it is becoming harder and harder to decipher what is real, honest content and what is faked.
The other day at work I opened an email containing a marked-up PDF from our legal department. The requests for edits were easy except for one that said “insert FBS on all.” FBS? What the heck was that? I turned to my colleague, who had many more years of experience – and lots of interaction with our legal department – for guidance but even she was at a loss. After a few minutes of futile googling and guessing, a quick call to legal dispelled the mystery around the acronym for “Fair Balance Statement.” The point I am trying to make is that something that may be super obvious in one industry might not be as apparent to those outside of it, or those who are working with a new team. As we have discussed previously, content (and its importance) has recently shot up in the past decade, and because of this, there are still some misunderstandings about areas involving content. In today’s post, I’d like to help clarify some of the most important areas of content and their functions. We will be covering: content strategy, content marketing, and content creation.
To enhance my understanding of content, I conducted a miniature content analysis on an up-and-coming wealth advisory business, EmberHouse. Out of the many websites featured on Awwwards, this one caught my eye because it was unique. During my undergraduate studies, in my Identity class, I had to design a company’s brand off of a fictitious brief. Unluckily for me, I got a wealth advisory/management business to design for. To execute this project, I did a lot of research into the area and saw how many financial and wealth organizations executed their appearance and content. From my perspective, the industry seemed to favor fairly basic and bland (e.i. typically corporate), making it dull to look at and difficult to relate to. This is where EmberHouse makes their departure.
After concluding my studies and research about deep work, I have made peace with the fact that my life is inundated with content literally every second I walk out the door or peruse the web. Each piece of content I am exposed to has a very specific motive behind it, hoping that people like me will click around and choose to spend money. Marketing for any product or service has become cutthroat as companies battle to gain attention from distracted and saturated internet users. In an effort to differentiate themselves, companies have taken to content strategy to formulate decisive pillars and action items in order to make lead conversions. Some businesses do a great job of it, while others are still trying to get a hang of how to create, curate, and manage content. At the end of one of my previous blog posts, I invited readers to take a look at the content they consume and interact with. In this post, I am going to practice what I preach. To touch upon a variety of subjects, I am going to break down my relationship with content into three sections: what I create, what I consume, and what I attract. Sounds like a fun time, right? Let’s get into it.
It has been a little over 20 years since Bill Gates declared “content is king,” but as we have discussed in my previous post, content is nothing without a plan. In fact, PR Daily reports that between 60% – 70% of content that a company creates goes unused. Let that sink in for a second. More than half of materials that are produced never make it through to be seen by an end user. As you can imagine, this is a huge drain of company time, money, and personnel. In order to make the best use of their resources, an increasing amount of businesses are turning towards experts to guide their strategy so that they may create better-informed decisions in the long run.
Content strategy as a whole is a fairly recent industry as the boom of its popularity occurred from around 2008 to 2014. The idea of creating a fleshed out strategy for all of your content was a shiny, new concept for companies to capitalize on. Job roles listed as “content strategists” began to appear, and from that time on, marketing and brand presence have never been the same. Because content strategy gained popularity and relevance so quickly, many industry professionals debate whether content strategy is a revolution or evolution. From what I have seen on blog posts and resources thus far, there doesn’t seem to be a concrete answer. Experts have been joining one camp or another and defending their stance.
Content marketing is on the rise. In fact, nine out of ten companies are now foregoing the traditional sales pitches of yesteryear, and instead, are publishing content that will enhance their brands while simultaneously creating value for its viewers. This new way of attracting and interacting with customers and leads has caused more businesses to understand that content truly is key. But what exactly is “content” and what is the best way to leverage it from a corporate standpoint?
To describe it in a simplistic manner, content is material (usually residing online) that does not explicitly promote a specific product or brand, but instead promotes ideas, solutions, and entertainment to stimulate the audience’s interest in the company’s products or services. This content can take the form of employee-produced blog posts on the corporate website, videos, helpful infographics, an emailed newsletter, or social media posts. This content can be curated from other sources as well. In fact, 95% of marketers worldwide share curated content from other organizations to heighten their presence; with 79% of that curation occurring through social media channels alone. The possibilities are really endless here and the potential for success is extremely high – but you have to know how to play your cards right.