Keeping Customers Contented

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” There is no question that content is king in today’s world. Indeed, nearly half of marketing budgets today are spent on content alone, according to HubSpot’s “The State of Content Marketing 2019.”

HubSpot’s data also shows that 77 percent of marketers believe written content will be their top focus for content marketing this year, with SEO, email marketing, and video also ranking high.

As content marketing grows in popularity and consumers continue to be flooded with content wherever they look, it’s more important than ever for marketers to home in on their content marketing strategies and take note of rising trends in this sphere. Forbes listed five trends that marketers can keep an eye on in 2019 as they grow and expand their brands’ content initiatives:

  • Artificial Intelligence: AI can help marketers build better content marketing strategies with its ability to gather data about consumer interests and preferences. Access to such information will make it easier for marketers to create and deliver the types of content consumers demand. AI will also enable marketers to build “powerful, highly targeted audience segments” and “personalized content” for each respective segment.
  • Content Strategy: An editorial calendar in 2019 will not suffice, and marketers should build out a “documented strategy” with established goals, KPIs, audience segmentation, and a content repurposing and curation strategy.
  • Voice Search: Marketers should begin optimizing their content for voice search, which is predicted to make up half of all online searches by 2020.
  • Influencers: Brands today can approach influencer collaborations by aligning with influencers who “create content for your very own brand channels” — such as a brand’s blog, social networks, and so forth — as opposed to promoting the brand and its products or services solely on the influencers’ own channels. Doing so can help boost credibility, traffic, and followers.
  • Variety of Content: Content marketing includes social media, videos, email marketing, podcasts, and other marketing channels. In order to reach a variety of audiences, “it’s critical not only to have a presence on multiple channels but also to create different types of content for different segments of your audience.” Video and podcasts, for instance, have greatly increased in popularity in recent years.

At a recent ANA conference focused on driving digital engagement, Christine Zalocha, VP of marketing at Aura, discussed the science behind video content. More specifically, Zalocha discussed video “virality” and how to implement an internal strategy that gets consumers to share a brand’s content within their communities. She advised brands to “test, learn, iterate, repeat” through means such as dark testing, which allows a brand to expose content to a small slice of consumers to determine which content will be most sharable and engaging. When the content does finally launch, marketers will have a good understanding of its shareability. Her tips for going viral include:

  1. Do your research. What’s trending on the platforms where you want your brand to be?
  2. Invite your team to watch videos and pick apart what is most compelling about them. Try to brainstorm how you can layer your key points in a similar fashion.
  3. Work with a production team that is aligned with your marketing goals and objectives. No need to go to a big agency.
  4. During pre-production and briefing, make sure you have a list of shots to capture for each platform.
  5. Partner with a performance marketer. Get them invested in how to optimize for video viewing and engagement objectives.

Naturally, content marketing can take many shapes and forms. One size does not fit all. Nevertheless, it’s critical for marketers to develop a content strategy that feels true to their brand. The resources below serve as a guide for developing and fine-tuning a content marketing strategy for 2020 and beyond.


Content Marketing for B2B Brands

In its 2018 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends — North America study, the Content Marketing Institute estimated that 91 percent of business-to-business marketers use content as a key driver of traffic and leads. However, nearly two-thirds of the 2,190 respondents struggle with unsophisticated content efforts, and they admit to challenges in creating a cohesive strategy focused on personalization.

Perhaps nowhere is this more noticeable than in tailoring content specifically to the customer’s buying journey. The study revealed that “considering the buyer’s journey” falls well below other concerns that marketers have in creating content.

“Everybody is working on this, trying to figure out how to give people access to the right content,” says Mimi Rosenheim, senior director of web marketing at the marketing technology company Demandbase. “Marketers have to constantly go back and look at the data, pressure-test their hypotheses, and optimize everything to reach people as accurately as possible in their buying journey. The biggest problem is taking a passive approach to content, like just creating a white paper and checking one more “content-accomplished box.”

Marketers and other industry observers recommend several approaches to fine-tune a content marketing plan, one that is quality-rich and designed to address unique buyer-journey needs. Surprisingly, it doesn’t have to start out as high tech, although it can get there pretty quickly.

Start with SEO

While it may seem old school, an understanding of search engine optimization (SEO) is the gateway to better content personalization.

“Organic search is the place at the top of the funnel where someone is researching a solution to a problem,” Rosenheim says. “Creating content that supports that top of the cycle is really important. Marketers should look at the keywords people are searching for. If someone came in through natural search, you might want to consider a retargeting program with a next piece of content based on those keywords.”

Google’s Keyword Planner, which provides metrics on what’s being searched for and when, is ideal for optimizing top-of-funnel queries, says Lee Odden, CEO at digital marketing agency TopRank Marketing. Other tools that can parse what an audience is looking for include Ubersuggest, which provides a list of related keyword terms, and Keyword Tool, which generates long-tail keyword suggestions for search terms.

These easy-to-use tools can inform the content team of what topics to address in upcoming articles.

“Not everyone is in a position to afford advanced artificial intelligence technologies about what prospects are interested in, so tapping into demand via SEO analysis can show you what people’s needs are,” Odden says.

“These are ways to use search data and first-party customer research to understand the questions buyers have at different stages of their journey. Once you know that, you can give them the answers via your content plan.”

Customize Content

Naturally, marketers shoot for more. Odden refers to a former client, Dun & Bradstreet, that wanted to expand its online outreach beyond smaller companies to larger firms in other business lines. Rather than try to match content with each and every incoming website visitor and their needs, Dun & Bradstreet created 12 different homepage templates, each customized based on SEO analytics and an analysis of website performance data around content consumption patterns and actions taken on the site.

“They did a combination of web analytics and their own data to sniff out who’s visiting at any given time, and then served up the appropriate website,” Odden says. “The content is different on different websites, customized by how the visitor comes to the site, including the use of keywords. That data helps identify, at least in a generic sense,
who the visitor is.”

Sometimes prospects self-identify as being interested in a company’s content, but only on their terms. Recognizing this, the growth platform HubSpot contains predictive lead scoring that matches prospects with current customer trends to determine the prospects’ proclivity to be customers. To nurture leads, it leverages lead behavior to inform its middle- and late-funnel delivery of content marketing.

“We did a lot of research on people’s questions and what they’re searching for, and have tried to be first in explaining things,” says Meghan Keaney Anderson, VP of marketing at HubSpot. “And that had worked out pretty well for us.”

While HubSpot valued prospects who downloaded content based on their survey responses, which, as so often happens, drove them deeper into the funnel, a colleague suggested a better approach: Why not just ask the prospects what kind of content they’d like to see next?

That resulted in “Pick Your Own Adventure.” Here’s how it worked: HubSpot marketers query prospects personally, asking them what challenges they are looking to tackle in the coming quarter. For example, choices might include generating more leads, growing revenue, or managing the sales pipeline. Based on the responses, the prospects nare sent to a page to download content specifically tailored to the chosen challenge, with no additional form-fill necessary.

“It was a minor shift, but instead of guessing about content based on someone’s title or most recent download, we just asked,” Anderson says. “The response to that was an email open rate that increased from 37 percent to 67 percent, and a click-through rate that went up from 17 percent to 61 percent. It illustrated the power of asking people what they want. We’ve started to roll this out across everything we do, including emails, chatbots on our website, and blog posts.

“Marketing is a slow march toward realizing that the customer is pretty much 100 percent in control,” she adds. “The more you give up control to the customer the better your results will be.”

Go from the Basics to the Sublime

Content takes on many forms. One of the more overlooked is direct mail and, in particular, the kind that responds to commentary made on social media. Niki Hall, former VP of corporate marketing at Five9, a developer of call center software, recalls an invitation she received to a Salesforce event that exploited a bottom-of-the-funnel opportunity.

“We didn’t use Salesforce as our CRM solution, but it must have been my Twitter feed that suggested to them that they reach out to me,” Hall says. She recalls that a month before Salesforce’s big Dreamforce customer and prospect event, she received a large box, including a water bottle, inviting her to the event. Other expensive direct mail packages arrived in due course, including an “emergency kit” stocked with Band-Aids and aspirin to get her ready for the upcoming conference. Anyone who’s been to the frenzy of Dreamforce understands.

“Marketers need to use different tactics, and this one, prompted by my tweeted need for a better CRM solution, was compelling,” Hall says. “It really stood out, and was personalized. I went to Dreamforce and took a meeting with them.”

While the basics are always useful, many companies are leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to determine where prospects are in the sales funnel, and to deliver content tailored to their interests. For example, Demandbase’s Rosenheim claims its AI solution monitors more than 150 billion B2B “intent signals” each month as a way to determine the most relevant buyers within a company’s targeted accounts. This process, along with critical input from sales, can refine a company’s content marketing strategy, she says.

“First, you do the surgery with a chainsaw and later with a scalpel,” Rosenheim says. “You have to first talk to your sales team to find out what questions are coming up with prospects, the hooks that are resonating with people, and the optics they’re identifying before the prospect moves to the next point.”

But Rosenheim says AI can only go so far, as it’s essentially a guess up front to determine what types of content match what types of proclivities to buy. The post-hoc analysis of content performance, she notes, makes all the difference.

“First, create the content, then take a look at it,” Rosenheim says. “Use Google Analytics or your content distribution platform to find out what is working and with whom. Maybe a person likes ebooks better than white papers, or videos better than webinars. Some people like to read, while others want to lean in and watch a video. Give them what they want.”

Sometimes, Rosenheim asserts, a more curated approach is warranted, compared with artificial intelligence. “It can come down to how much you believe in the rules engine about serving up content,” she says. “If you know your account and their buying cycle, and can say those accounts have open opportunities, a real sales person can merchandise the content much better than AI alone.

“Content should be part of a larger campaign,” Rosenheim adds. “It’s not always what sticks on the bun. It’s a segment you hope they’re thinking about. It’s a campaign.”

The Four Cs of Content for Generation Z

To harness the power of content marketing’s ability to reach and influence teens, the agency Fuse recommends following its “Four Cs of Content.”

  1. Capture Attention: Fuse reports that attention spans have declined by as much as 33 percent in the last 20 years — a trend that affects teens as much as anyone. Effective headlines are critical to grabbing attention before users go elsewhere. Fuse recommended that headlines:
    • Use conversational language or slang
    • Contain advice
    • Use the phrase “best of” — a feature shared by many of the headlines that perform best among teens
  2. Genuine Works Better Than Perfect: Fuse contends that teens can view a brand that’s too polished as being inauthentic. One way to come across as “real” is to use micro-influencers, who, Fuse observed, are more likely to be embraced as peers. They are also from whom teens are more likely to consume content, compared to consuming it directly from the brand. However, Fuse cautions that there are a few types of missteps that teens are less forgiving of, such as failing to reflect teens’ views on gender fluidity and not using sufficiently powerful female imagery. Teens can also feel that brands are out of touch if they fail to acknowledge any elephants in the room, such as relevant
    political issues.
  3. Champion a Cause: Fuse reports that 68 percent of generation Z say that companies have a responsibility to help solve social problems. In light of this expectation, content marketing can be an efficient and cost-effective means of communicating a brand’s support of a cause. According to Fuse, some of the causes that teens care about include:
    • #MeToo
    • Black Lives Matter
    • LGBTQ issues

    If brands wish to convince teens of the authenticity in their support for a cause, it’s incumbent upon companies to make financial donations. Equally important is to highlight how the brand’s employees themselves work on the issue.
  4. Connect with Pop Culture: According to Fuse, teens view companies that ignore pop culture as out of touch. Indeed, teens believe that companies have a green light to participate in and contribute to pop culture so long as they do so in an informed and responsible manner. Specifically, Fuse recommended that companies engage with trends and cultural events that they have a natural and relevant connection with.

Bloomberg Touts Its Values via Content Marketing

Recognized in 2018 as a Top 50 Content Marketing Brand by NewsCred, Bloomberg uses content in a variety of ways in order to drive the business forward. Senior executives from Bloomberg discussed the organization’s robust content strategy regarding diversity and inclusion initiatives as related to talent retention and development.

Q. How do you identify new challenges as related to content marketing and diversity and inclusion?

Ramons Roopnarine, global head of diversity and inclusion marketing at Bloomberg: Diversity and inclusion initiatives are usually communicated in HR speak, so how do we make that human speak? What are the key stories we are trying to tell? Is it a recruiting story? It is a talent-development story? What’s the business innovation story? What’s our advocacy story? We needed to show versus tell what the company stands for. We created a content operation.

Q. How did you create a strategy to tell Bloomberg’s story?

Megan Waters, Global Head of Content Marketing at Bloomberg: First, it has to be authentic. It needs to make sense coming from your brand. Secondly, you have to have a point of view. How do we cut through the white noise, and what is our unique perspective? Why would someone come to Bloomberg for information about diversity and inclusion? We’re not just tooting our own horn. We’re telling the audiences about the data and business value of diversity and inclusion. We’re giving them ways to implement it at their organizations. Thirdly, the content has to be always-on. You have to communicate to the audience all year long. Those three things served as the foundation for telling our story. It’s not a “set it and forget” method.

Shafqat Islam, cofounder and CEO at NewsCred: It’s really impressive working with this team. We thought the content would be about Bloomberg’s D&I initiatives, but when you look at the content they create and curate, it’s about education and creating awareness. It’s not all about Bloomberg. Being selfless is the biggest way to see success in content marketing.

Q. What does good content marketing looks like?

Islam: It comes down to two things. First, be memorable. If you don’t have a unique point of view and if you don’t have data that no one else has access to, then leverage customers, employees, or anything that’s proprietary to you, so you can create memorable stories. Secondly, tying it to business outcomes is really important. People are interested in what the impact is on the bottom line. Is this just an education and brand play? No. Being able to tie it to a business outcome is important.

Q. Who owns content marketing?

Roopnarine: Content marketing is marketing. Whether it’s a song, a blog piece, or a Q&A, it’s all content and it’s all marketing. It’s your door to opening a two-way conversation with your consumer. It’s never thought of in a silo. We’ve tried to create a culture of content by breaking down silos.

Q. How do marketing and the business partners work together?

Waters: It’s not always easy. We like to put it into context using an example the business partners can understand. We help them think about customer touchpoints in totality. For example, how do content messages relate to what they are doing down the funnel at events? We think of it as surround-sound and message reinforcement.

Q. Where should you spend your budget to get the best bang for your buck?

Waters: We’re trying to produce and distribute more efficiently. In D&I, we have a bank of content we’ve already produced. How do we go back to that content and see what is still relevant or needs to be updated? You don’t need to remake the wheel every time. Use the same content and distribute it to different audiences.

Roopnarine: We have 19,000 employees, and they all have stories to tell. Use the resources you have on hand. They can tell true authentic stories.

Q. What do you recommend to people looking for guidance on spending budget?

Islam: Start with why are you’re doing it. What’s the strategy? Which audiences you want to reach? What are the channels? Consider these strategic questions to guide spending choices. The focus should be on distribution. It’s amazing how many people don’t go back to reuse existing content they have. From a search standpoint, you can gain so much by updating a well-performing piece of existing content.

Q. Scrambling to create something new is not necessarily a good content strategy?

Islam: Most things worth talking about have been talked about. You can spend time on optimizing things already created.

Q. Measurement is a big issue. How do you approach it? What works and what doesn’t?

Roopnarine: In the beginning, we looked at awareness, but awareness meant nothing. Figure out where you can track transactions. For us, we tracked people who applied for jobs at Bloomberg and became employees. It was important to see the ROI for content.

Islam: Bloomberg can track if someone looked at content on their blog or shared it through LinkedIn. If that same person a month or six months later changes his company name to Bloomberg, this team can attribute that to the content influence. That’s pretty sophisticated.

Q. A lot of executives don’t appreciate the “long game,” and they want to see results now. How do you handle that?

Waters: Content marketing is a long game. It takes time to build the influence and be seen as a trusted partners. You’re not going to see results immediately. We give a lot of credit to Michelle and the team for trusting us. Mapping out goals and progress has helped us see success.

Roopnarine: A lot of the things we’re saying are “the basics.” Think about SEO, make sure you have a plan and calendar, and don’t forget the basics. That’s usually where people fail.

Best Practices

Content Marketing for a Post-Digital Age

In a world saturated with marketing messages, brands have to rethink the methods that they use to reach and influence their audiences. IBM’s George Hammer offered marketers five tips for revising these methods, placing special emphasis on updated approaches to content creation.

Hammer, chief content officer at Big Blue, shared five principles that marketers can embrace to more effectively benefit both consumers and their brands.

  1. Deliver value: Consumers are willing to pay to avoid being marketed to, but Hammer hopes for a time in which marketing provides the kinds of answers and solutions that consumers are willing to pay for. Acquiring the ability to provide such value begins with a brand asking several related questions:
    • What things or services do consumers want and/or need?
    • Which of these things does the brand have the authority to provide and talk about?
    • Who else is providing this thing and talking about it?
    • How can the brand not only provide it in a uniquely useful way, but also talk about it in a uniquely useful way?
  2. Engage consumers with stories: B2B brands have long focused on simply pushing out white papers as a way of connecting with prospects. Hammer argues that this bare-bones approach reflects outmoded thinking. He urges marketers to instead support the release of such white papers with storytelling at the core to stoke interest in the topic.

    To promote a white paper on supply chain management, IBM created a narrative video about how its logistics specialists had helped Iceland’s fishing industry respond to the massive disruptions created by a volcano on the island.
  3. Vigorously test and iterate marketing materials: Hammer says that having an abundance of time to create just one version of an ad is usually less valuable than having the opportunity to create and evaluate abundant versions of it, even when there is little time for each one.

    To put this principle into practice, he recommends that marketers use existing touchpoints with consumers to test what really engages them and to turn that testing into actionable insights.

    In one case, marketers at IBM had six ideas for the topic for an ad; to identify which to proceed with, they compared the popularity of each topic as the subject of a post on one of its popular blogs, A/B testing headlines, and rotating imagery to ensure a rigorous and empirical conclusion.
  4. Quality over quantity: Hammer contended that no consumer wants to hear from a brand all the time, and that marketers’ aggressive tactics have driven some consumers to block their ads. To combat this tendency, Hammer says marketers should “make less and matter more.” One way that IBM has tried to personify the maxim is with its INDUSTRIOUS magazine, which curates the most popular content from the brand’s blog posts and thought leadership.
  5. Innovate the content creation model: Hammer reminded marketers of the need to constantly look for opportunities to rethink old tactics and apply new technologies. By way of illustration, he shared several examples of new approaches that IBM’s content-creation team has recently taken or hopes to take in the future.
    • To assist IBM stakeholders make the most informed decisions about the best partners to work with, the organization internally circulates the outcomes achieved by agencies and partners in their work with specific IBM teams.
    • The brand has begun experimenting with the creation of choose-your-own-length content. This approach enables readers to learn about a topic by selecting the format that best suits their time constraints.
    • Opportunities to use blockchain technology to track not just financial transactions, but also rights to content, providing clarity on questions of ownership that can get muddied over time.
    • An expanding role for AI to play in content creation. It will not only help to select the best creative brief for a project, but identify the right types of content to use in different contexts, as well as write and A/B test headlines.

MailChimp’s Guide to Content Marketing

A lack of forethought and coordination can significantly diminish content marketing’s success. MailChimp’s Colleen Jones explains how to avoid such deficiencies by melding one’s vision and strategy to produce compelling content.

According to Jones, effective content marketing requires:

  • A vision that sets an organization’s content goals
  • A strategy that aligns the efforts of contributors and teams on the execution of those goals
  • Content operations that manage people, processes, and technology to efficiently resource, coordinate, and create content

Jones stresses that the importance of designing an organization’s content strategy be an expression of its content vision. To illustrate this approach, she cited the work of Intuit’s TurboTax. As the tax-preparation software company sought to transform itself from a provider of desktop software to a web-based service, it envisioned a simultaneous transformation of the language that it used to communicate with customers. In its vision for its content, TurboTax aspired to a tone that:

  • Was conversational, human, and direct
  • Avoided jargon and bureaucratese
  • Encouraged an ungrudging exchange of information

One way that the company sought to achieve these goals was by providing users with brief survey questions regarding their feelings about tax preparations. The multiple-choice responses ranged from “Good” to “Don’t ask,” with each one paired with an emoticon.

If a user chose the “Not so good” response, TurboTax responded with plainspoken empathy and supportiveness, saying, “We get it. The tax code is pretty crazy. But we’re used to rolling up our sleeves and making taxes less, well, taxing.” Jones credits such “microcopy” with playing a major role in the 15 percent unit growth achieved by TurboTax Online.

To provide content marketers with more detailed guidance in their efforts to develop a “strategy” from their “vision,” Jones offered five questions for them to ask themselves, which she adapted from Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works, by A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin.

  1. What is our aspiration? What is the purpose or vision of the product or initiative that our content will support?
  2. Where will we play? Where are our best opportunities to compete, as defined by geographies, product categories, customer segments and journeys, channels, topics, content types, etc.?
  3. How will we win? What are our value proposition, competitive advantage, and unique content approach?
  4. What capabilities must be in place? To win, what assets and production capacity must we have in place? What level of maturity must our content exhibit?
  5. What management systems are required? What processes and measurement systems do we need in place to support our content marketing choices?

Once upon a time, content-marketing teams might have been comprised almost entirely of writers and editors. To effectively execute the discipline’s modern-day equivalent, these teams must now make sure to include the right mix of strategists, analysts, designers, engineers, and video specialists, among other roles.

With these questions examined and answered, content marketers should establish well-considered content operations to effectively execute their strategy. A thoughtful approach to content operations will ensure that people, processes, and technologies mutually support one another. It will, for instance, enable all of the content roles to work with the content management system and make their own contributions to the content supply chain.

In addition to drawing attention to such general considerations, Jones identified four more specific factors that can contribute to the success of content operations.

  1. Leadership: A torchbearer can help proactively light the way toward the development and continuous improvement of processes while articulating their value and the value of content operations considered as a whole.
  2. Experimentation: Deliberate, carefully measured trial-and-error can help identify new opportunities for content and provide the data needed to drum up support throughout the organization. Such experimentation can be undertaken on a small scale and at frequent intervals, for instance, by A/B testing email visuals and subject headings. However, experiments can also be big, daring, and data-led. Jones cited the example of Netflix, which researched the performance of films directed by David Fincher and featuring Kevin Spacey, as well as the viewership attracted by a U.K. TV series, called House of Cards, before making a $100 million bet on an American adaptation of its own — a bet that paid for itself in a mere three months.
  3. Automation: The speed required to personalize content at scale eludes the unassisted powers of human beings, but automation technologies can help close the gap. Such technologies enable Netflix to offer 33 million distinct sets of personalized viewing suggestions to its users.
  4. People: Once upon a time, content-marketing teams might have been comprised almost entirely of writers and editors. To effectively execute the discipline’s modern-day equivalent, these teams must now make sure to include the right mix of strategists, analysts, designers, engineers, and video specialists, among other roles.

Case Study

The Three Pillars of Crayola’s Content Strategy

Content marketing is powerful because it can connect with consumers on both a rational and an emotional level. Crayola found success with a content marketing strategy built on three pillars: consumers, influencers, and context.

Give the Readers What They Want

Different audiences have different needs and interests when it comes to content, of course. Crayola segmented its audiences and created content for each segment.

  • Parents connect with Crayola through nostalgia. The color and the scent of the crayons bring back childhood memories for this segment, pulling on people’s heartstrings. Last spring Crayola announced that it was retiring a particular color crayon. Consumers engaged with the brand to “save” their favorite colors from retirement. On National Crayon Day, Crayola announced that the color dandelion would be retired, and that a newly developed shade of blue would take its place. Consumers were invited to suggest names for the new color.
  • Millennials embrace creativity, consume content socially, and seek authenticity. There is a “maker movement” taking hold, and millennials are connecting with the idea of craftsmanship and customization. Video and social media content are the best ways to reach these millennials, so Crayola put together “CIY” or “Create It Yourself” content. The brand produced videos demonstrating how to use Crayola products in different craft projects. These videos were shared via social media, and lived on a landing page, as well.
  • Kids are core to the Crayola mission. Crayola has toy-like products that are popular around the holidays. For an upcoming product launch, the content team filmed real kids really playing with the latest product. The unscripted videos were inspired by the growing YouTube trend of unboxing videos.
  • Teachers use Crayola products regularly in their classrooms. On Teacher Appreciation Day, Crayola created socially sharable infographics about the challenges teachers face and encouraged people to write thank-you cards to their teachers. This idea resulted in user-generated content.

Work with Co-Authors

Crayola found that working with co-authors or influencers is a great way to extend the reach of its content and have the brand story told through someone else’s perspective.

To that end, Crayola partnered with Zach King, known online for magical hijinks and trickery of the eye. Crayola developed content with him for its Color Alive product. The end result had high production values but, because the concept belonged to King’s, the video resonated more with his audience than with Crayola’s. This experience was a lesson learned for brand managers.

Another example involves calligraphy, which is a growing trend among millennial “makers.” Crayola partnered with an influencer who teaches hand-lettering online and helped create a beginner’s guide to “Crayoligraphy,” featuring three Crayola products. In this instance, Crayola was able to link content and commerce.

Content and Context

Content should be tailored based on the way it will be presented and consumed. Depending on placement or platform, the content will need to be modified. For example, social media can be a great place to tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end. But an e-commerce site such as Amazon lends itself better to illustrations of the product itself, tips and tricks for how to use the product, and showcasing a professional using the product. Context is key to guiding content development and monetizing the effort.

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