Posts

emerging_markets_internationalisierung_spblog

Anyone expanding into new markets when building up an international brand is entering a high-speed environment with rapidly changing trends and enormous consumer dynamics. Drivers of this hyper-development can be market reforms, rapidly rising wages, or the emergence of local brand champions. In such an environment, it can make sense to adopt and revitalize an existing local brand. Building your own brand from scratch requires a lot of time and money and can fail due to false assessments. In contrast, the acquisition of an existing brand may require a repositioning, but the considerable growth of the local market will be used much faster. This is described in detail in our new Springer publication “Successful brand development in the major emerging markets” (written in German) by Dr. Niklas Schaffmeister (Managing Partner Globeone) and Florian Haller (CEO Serviceplan Group).

As a rule, acquisitions and revitalization of local brands preferably take place in product categories such as food, beverages and other consumer goods, as tastes, habits and preferences can be very local and closely related to the local culture. Consumers here have long been familiar with the local brand. Marketing professionals point to three main advantages in connection with the acquisition and revitalization of local brands:

1. Established names with a high level of awareness facilitate market entry

The McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University has shown in a survey of product categories such as beer, hair care and carbonated soft drinks that a significant part of the success of multinational companies in international markets is due to the acquisition of local brands. If the existing brand is established, customers are familiar with it and the distribution channels are in place. The costly establishment of a reputation is unnecessary, or it is at least much more cost-effective with a reorientation. This increases the chances of success enormously and saves important time.

2. A loyal customer base with strong brand loyalty

Time is only one factor to consider. Brand loyalty is another. Many domestic competitors in rapidly industrializing economies are still weak in terms of growth. But they can often refer to a very loyal clientele. This is an important factor for internationally expanding companies, because a loyal local clientele provides the important brand loyalty without having to invest a lot of time and money. If consumers are on average older and more traditional, local brands can even evoke positive memories of their own youth long gone. However, they must be revitalized in the consciousness of consumers and supplemented by other aspects relating to the future.

3. A functioning distribution network minimizes resistance in local channels

One of the best-known examples in international growth markets is a large Indian beverage producer brewing a cola drink to suit the local taste. In 1977, when the Indian government asked Western companies to give up control of their Indian subsidiaries or leave, Coca-Cola withdrew from the country. Indian companies, including Thums Up, tried to conquer the national market for soft drinks. Thums Up dominated the market for 16 years and achieved 35% market share at peak times. But with the reforms from 1991, the government relaxed regulations. Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola returned to the Indian market. In 1993, Coca-Cola bought Thums Up and wanted the brand to go out of the market in order to protect its own market share. But the resistance of local traders and consumers prevented this. Following massive protests and a 30% drop in market share, production of Thums Up was resumed. Coca-Cola invested large sums in the brand and took up the earlier advertising campaign with the slogan “Taste the Thunder” again. Bollywood action hero Akshay Kuma became a brand ambassador. The actor Salman Khan, who played an air force pilot, was also engaged. Coca-Cola was thus ahead of a Pepsi advertising campaign in which “Top Gun” hero Tom Cruise appeared. Thums Up took the crown from Pepsi with a market share of 17%. And Coca-Cola was from then on able to attack its competitor in the “Cola Wars” with two different brands.

emerging_markets_internationalisierung_spblog

The major growth markets are more like continents than individual countries. Hundreds of languages, regional traditions, tastes and customs make them a huge conglomerate of markets. A “one size fits all” approach is doomed to fail here. However, it makes much more sense and is strategically more appropriate to concentrate on important regional areas or city clusters as a brand in order to find a starting point for the best growth opportunities. The leading cities are only one possible destination. Rapidly growing centers in the “hinterland” are another promising option within the framework of the cluster strategy. This is described in detail in our new Springer publication “Successful brand development in the major emerging markets” (written in German) by Dr. Niklas Schaffmeister (Managing Partner Globeone) and Florian Haller (CEO Serviceplan Group).

The art of expanding along city clusters begins with a thorough analysis of the differences between the individual regions. It is not difficult to identify the clusters. They may be groups of cities linked by a particular economic structure, demographic structures, comparable consumer behavior or geographical proximity. Perhaps the biggest – but by no means the only – advantage of focusing existing resources on city clusters is the ability to leverage economies of scale and existing distribution networks. If one is successful in certain clusters, one can also build up a decisive market share, which then can be used as a springboard into other regional clusters.

1. Purchasing power analysis: how to identify the epicenters

One way to identify the most promising clusters for your company is to examine the existing and expected income levels. Are there signs that consumers are starting to buy their first car? Or is an increasing demand for imported or luxury goods ahead? How many middle class households are there and what do reliable forecasts of expected income growth say? Is consumer demand increasing in product segments that affect the company? Managers from successful companies are unanimous in their opinion that precise inquiries are very important to identify the epicenters of future growth. The smaller, suburban cities in the country are expected to generate 60% of the general growth in the fashion industry in the coming years. And by the end of the decade, almost half of consumers in rural areas should belong to the middle class.

2. Understanding consumer drivers: is it all about individuality or just being a part of it?

Brand companies must understand their target markets in detail. Shopping habits and consumer motives can even differ significantly from city to city. For young people in the primary cities it’s about individuality, they don’t want to “follow the herd”, while at the level of subordinate cities it’s more about being a part of it. The fact that the urban population in emerging countries alone is growing by around 60 to 70 million people a year underlines their importance. This corresponds to 60 times the population of Cologne or eight times the population of New York.

3. Key question for the campaign: how homogeneous is the selected cluster?

Another decisive consideration is whether the selected cluster is homogeneous in terms of the defined criteria. A well-known example are the neighboring primary cities Shenzhen and Guangzhou in China. People in Guangzhou speak Cantonese. Most of them were born in and around the city and spend a lot of time at home with their families. In Shenzhen, on the other hand, the population consists of mostly migrants from other parts of the country, and Mandarin is usually spoken there. Integrating the two cities into the same cluster would require two completely different campaigns. Once you have decided on certain regional or city clusters, you have to consider how many submarkets you want to target. The more submarkets there are, the more difficult it could be to achieve the desired efficiency.

Success story: Unilever’s mosaic approach

Large and successful companies such as Hindustan Unilever (HUL) have conducted their own cluster-based campaigns. In the case of HUL, the “Winning in Many India’s” (WIMI) program was developed. In a first step, HUL, the largest company in the country, divided India into five major regions in the field of fast-moving products (FMCG). Then, on the basis of detailed consumer knowledge, another 14 geographical units were identified, which were city clusters. The company no longer regarded India as a homogenous country with few large markets, but as a country consisting of a mosaic of markets.

emerging_markets_internationalisierung_spblog

The dynamics in major growth markets can hardly be surpassed. Many things change at the same time. International brands and new local champions battle it out for market share. Entire development leaps in electronics, cars and Fintech turn markets upside down. Moreover, there are consumers who learn quickly, who are not really loyal and feel confident enough to try out lesser-known brands at an early stage. This makes customer loyalty a problem. Traditional brand loyalty campaigns often fail in the major emerging markets. This is also due to the fact that consumers climb up the premium ladder quickly. They are constantly raising their expectations and want to showcase their new status.

Marketing managers have to deal with extremely mobile target groups. Brand loyalty often puzzles them: What motivates customers to remain loyal to their current brand? Does the cultural background play an important role? Many questions, but only one certainty: In an environment such as the major growth markets, product and brand managers must know their customers particularly well. They need to be as close to them as possible, communicate with them through the most effective channels and give them the full range of brand experience. Dr. Niklas Schaffmeister (Managing Partner Globeone) and Florian Haller (CEO Serviceplan Group) provide some useful tips – all details can be found their new Springer publication “Successful brand development in the major emerging markets” (written in German).

1. Pole position first, then flatfoot: How VW pulled out of the loop in China

Volkswagen China is a good example of how important customer loyalty is in large growth countries and what pressure can build against a company. After entering the market in the 1980s, VW initially succeeded in capturing a share of more than 50 percent. But after the WTO accession in 2001, the market share of the Wolfsburg-based company fell below 20 percent. Nevertheless, VW managed to remain number one in China, despite the growing number of buyers who are willing to buy larger cars or experiment with other brands. Brand loyalty reaches about 80 percent in western car markets. In China it is only ten percent. In China, one third of all buyers now buy their second or third car. This makes customer loyalty a huge challenge. VW has responded by significantly expanding its model portfolio so that customers have a wider choice. In addition, a retention strategy was developed. This includes a standardized recording of the most important expectations and the drivers of loyalty. In addition, a strategy for after-sales management (CRM) was developed and consumer motives were analyzed in detail.

2. “Malina” and the card trick: Increasing loyalty through cooperation

There are numerous examples of successful customer loyalty programs in large growth countries. One of these is the “Malina” campaign in Russia for five partners, all of whom were market leaders in their respective product categories. Participants included the Rosinter restaurant chain, the telecom company Vympelcom and the BP-TNK service station chain. Together with Visa Card, they issued a credit card as part of Malina. All family members of the cardholders were able to collect points on a joint account and earn bonuses. In the first year after the start of the program, 2.1 million cards were issued. After two years, Malina was the leading loyalty program in Russia. Rosinter-Restaurants and TGI Friday’s, another partner of the initiative, experienced a double-digit percentage increase in the transaction volume of their cards.

3. Special privileges: How to satisfy the hunger for privileges

According to an EY survey, customer loyalty in India is only about half as high as in Europe and the US. So how can you keep customers who are willing to change? The COLLOQUY Cross-Cultural Loyalty Study, a global “commitment compass” that examined consumer attitudes in Australia, Canada and the US as well as in the emerging countries Brazil, China and India, provides helpful insights. The study confirms that consumers in emerging markets demand “special service” three times as often as discounts and privileges. And now comes the crucial point: almost three times as many buyers in emerging markets declare that loyalty to their preferred brands pays off. This is clear proof of the potential of customer loyalty programs. Preferential treatment and rewards are appreciated by customers all over the world. But nowhere is the desire for VIP treatment more distinct than in the large growth markets.

emerging_markets_internationalisierung_spblog

Most companies are convinced that their brand has fully exploited its potential. But far from it: the brand can only score maximum points in the target group if its tradition, its promise and its unique history are well known. The most general definition of a brand is: “The consumer’s idea of a product or service”. So it’s not just about knowing and recognizing, it’s above all about associative connections. Clearly, this is the big moment of storytelling.

And this often starts from scratch in young markets. After all, international brands are often completely unknown to local consumers and potential customers in the major growth markets. In 2013, 70% of Chinese car buyers were still first-time buyers. Most of them had just obtained their driving licenses. They had no product or purchasing experience. Many of them had never been in a showroom before or had dealt with the technical aspects of an engine. For Western brands, this is a challenge, but also a great opportunity. Niklas Schaffmeister (Managing Partner Globeone) and Florian Haller (CEO Serviceplan Group) therefore explain the cornerstones of an engaging storytelling. Further details on that can be found in our new Springer publication “Successful brand development in the major emerging markets” (written in German).

1. Brand knowledge: Managers like to overestimate consumers

A well thought-out strategy with determined implementation is needed. When formulating the strategy, marketing cannot simply assume that the target group being addressed already has the necessary knowledge of the brand simply because connoisseurs of the company are familiar with many details. Brand managers often overestimate what consumers already know. This often results in communication campaigns that do not go far enough. But it is imperative to explain what the brand in question stands for. If this is done in a committed, interesting and motivating way, a lot can be gained. It is important not to overload the storytelling with messages. Target groups in emerging markets are usually 10 or 20 years younger than those in developed Western markets.

2. Understandable messages: Consumers must be addressed in their language

In the new markets, the 30- to 40-year-olds belong to the richest target group, which is already accustomed to exciting and committed marketing techniques. If a bank argues with traditional terms such as “trust” or “security”, its marketing message will not automatically be well received by these “newly-rich” consumers. Many people in these middle income brackets are also consumers without good foreign language skills. Don’t use too many English and technical terms. Admittedly, design and other concrete arguments of conviction are very important for this. But they must be communicated to consumers who are generally not technical experts in their own language. They must also be made aware of why this brand in particular meets their specific needs. Making new customers familiar with the brand requires patience.

3. Tradition is the trump card: With the brand history to the price premium

Every brand strategy must have enough space to tell the history of the brand. You have to take enough time to explain why your brand is unique and how much time it took to become a leading brand. The traditional aspect and the associated foreign brand image are the only sustainable competitive advantage that cannot easily be imitated. Those who tell their own story thus have the opportunity to achieve a clear price premium for the brand, compared to local competitors. This goal can be achieved with clear language and simple explanations as well as with visual clarity and a creative implementation of the campaign. This is the only way to break the communicative flooding in megacities.

4. Educating the consumer: For each product there are instructive campaigns

Educational campaigns or brand academies are particularly suitable for informing a target group about the brand history and special unique selling points. There are many educational examples of awareness-raising campaigns. For example, the highly creative and very successful “MINI Academy for Rapid Learners”. Its success is due to the fact that it has been excellently integrated into the local cultural framework. In Europe, MINI has the image of a cheeky, flexible and individualistic small car. In 2009, the brand was still not able to develop the hoped-for potential in China so quickly. In China, the MINI was initially considered a cute little car for young women and a fun car for young people as a whole. Men and older customers were underrepresented in this group. The MINI managers wanted to make “the most exciting small car in the world” interesting for a broader group of buyers. To this end, a creative strategy was developed around the themes of “dynamic driving experience”, “cult design” and “tradition”. A MINI Academy was founded to inform Chinese consumers about the rich tradition and history of the MINI brand. The Academy was a platform that made it possible to communicate within the local cultural environment via different media channels and at the same time to establish a strong connection to the Chinese mentality.

There are many success stories proving how well storytelling can attract young target groups in growth markets. The history of the brand and its special features must be clearly highlighted. Educational campaigns with instructive and easy-to-understand content are achieving great success.

emerging_markets_internationalisierung_spblog

Colorful advertisements, television ads and tourism: foreign influences in the major growth markets are getting ever stronger – and they are leaving a clear mark on the perception of local consumers. In addition, the economic opening up of these markets through their WTO entry and bilateral trade agreements are flushing more and more Western brands onto local shelves. The more respected the country of origin, the greater the propensity to buy. Sometimes the foreign brand origin proves to be an important factor in the international brand development. Niklas Schaffmeister (Managing Partner Globeone) and Florian Haller (CEO Serviceplan Group) explain why this is the case and they elaborate on additional advantages of this positioning concept. Read more about this in our new Springer publication “Successful brand development in the major emerging markets” (written in German).

Since the 1970s, research has consistently shown that consumers intuitively attribute positive or negative characteristics to a company or brand when they know the country of origin. This results in a so-called image transfer: associations with the country of origin are transferred to the company or the brand. This country of origin effect contributes significantly to a kind of “subconscious brand DNA” and therefore continues to play an important role in today’s marketing.

Two facets of the country of origin: production and design

For consumers, the non-domestic origin of trademarks is usually indicated by a reference to the country of origin. Sometimes the country of origin is further differentiated into the country of manufacture and the country in which the product was developed (country of design). In principle, the country of origin is the country in which the group headquarter that markets the product or brand is located. However, the product does not necessarily have to be manufactured there.

A country of origin perceived as positive has a positive effect on brands, for example by perceiving the quality of a brand as significantly higher. Much evidence suggests that certain countries of origin increase the prestige factor of brands. The following three factors show why the country of origin plays such an important role in international brand development – especially in the major growth markets.

1. The country of origin as a distinctive feature of brands

As a rule, consumers associate specific ideas with different countries. For example, the USA is considered to be very innovative and technology-oriented. For brands, it can be much more effective to use this existing knowledge of the country of origin effect than to communicate the same qualities and characteristics individually and without reference to the country of origin – for example through expensive advertising.

2. Growing claims are tied to foreign brands

In many growth markets, foreign brands are used to demonstrate social advancement: they are more expensive, not yet very widespread and are associated with high prestige. The preference for foreign brands is usually pronounced in product categories where the country of origin is supposed to have a higher level of competence. The preference for foreign brands is increasing in step with income. Against this background, the emphasis on brand origin offers a cost-saving and effective opportunity to attribute to a foreign brand such characteristics as quality, flawless functionality and excellent design.

3. Limited availability increases demand

Many emerging markets are opening up slowly, which in turn means that foreign brands are only available to a limited extent. Brands from Western countries in particular therefore enjoy a high reputation in these growth markets due to their relative novelty and scarcity. In addition, many local products cannot yet keep up with the products developed in the West.

“Made in Germany”: Germany as a favorite

Among the countries currently benefiting most from a positive country of origin image are Germany, the USA, Japan and Switzerland, due to their tradition, excellent quality and state-of-the-art technology or engineering. “Made in Germany”, for example, has been regarded for decades as a quality feature that communicates prestige and reputation in a great measure. The advantage: the country of origin image cannot really be imitated by competitors and is therefore a sustainable differentiation factor. For global marketers, this clearly means that the better the COO image, the more clearly the origin should be communicated.

Space Rocket

Some people in the digital sector, especially, have ceased to believe in brands. However, I am convinced that in the digital age, more than any other, brands offer precisely what we need in a multi-optional, information-flooded world: orientation. Brands condense a large volume of information into a (hopefully) relevant promise. Of course brands that want to be successful in the future, will also have to adapt to a society in transition. Anyone who takes the following five tenets for the brand management of the future to heart, will have a good chance of achieving this.

1. Viable brands are defined in three dimensions

What is a brand? A logo, a slogan, a value proposition? The appearance and if possible, differentiated positioning are only two dimensions shaping the brand image and consumer perceptions. In the digital age, every brand must prove itself, above all in its direct interaction with people. In order to offer a coherent, self-similar brand experience, the brand must establish rules of conduct which govern how it interacts while defining its stance towards people and the subjects on which it pronounces.

2. Viable brands offer a real benefit

The days when brand communication consisted in stating as loudly as possible why your own brand is so great and why people should buy it, are over. To be noticed for the long term, brands today must not only compete for people’s attention, but also offer content which delivers a noticeable, relevant benefit in the eyes of consumers. Depending on the context and the target market, this can, for example, consist of personalised offers, entertainment, monetary benefits or exclusive information. To enable the brand to develop promising content, the challenge is to put customers and their needs not just at the beginning but at the centre of your own concepts and actions.

3. Viable brands are user-friendly

Our digital devices have accustomed us to getting fast, easy access to everything we need. Usability is the umbrella term for the degree of user-friendliness experienced. This is not primarily about content. From the website via the hotline all the way to local service — every touchpoint with the brand should be intuitively comprehensible, simple to use and capable of being unambiguously implemented.

4. Viable brands communicate personally and in personalised fashion

People in a digitised world expect personal communication and personalised content and offers from their brands. If such offers are tailored to their individual needs, users will reward the brand with above-average response, purchase and loyalty rates. However, it is vital to find the right degree of personalisation: just because it’s technically possible, doesn’t mean it makes sense. Because enthusiasm over the newsletter containing exactly the right offers can quickly turn into a horrified “How do they know that?”.

5. Viable brands offer a consistent, coherent customer experience

Today, people experience brands at many very different touchpoints: in a shop, on the website as well as on social media and through advertising. In the best case, this so-called customer experience will give a consistent, coherent overall image across the various touchpoints. So here is my tip. Place a relevant customer experience at the start and at the centre of your transformation in the marketing sphere. In doing so, you will create a good platform — on the one hand for the greatest possible success today, and on the other, to ensure the viability of your brand tomorrow.

“Communication without content marketing has no future”

Buzzword or not – the need for content is greater than ever. In these times of the Internet as a platform, the power is shifting to the consumer. It used to be the other way around. Today, I can simply click everything away or use Adblocker. The consequence: the consumer has the power.

But someome do it right and do not get clicked away. What do Vodafone and South Tyrol have in common? Both know how good content marketing works. They are among the winners of the German Content Marketing Awards, which were awarded in 2015 for the first time. The South Tyroleans impressed us with their visually stunning stories (www.wasunsbewegt.com), and mobile operator Vodafone with the witty product testing of the “Gadget Inspectors”. They also convinced us through their networking with other content offerings as well as consistent marketing. In short: Vodafone and South Tyrol practice content marketing as it should be: Paid, Owned, Earned, and balanced out.

Such exemplary practice is still rare in German-speaking countries. We are, in fact, currently experiencing an accumulation of “pseudo-content marketing”. Content marketing, which only pretends to be such. Sometimes even a single blog can already be touted as content innovation, or native advertising articles, just because they rate well in the rankings. Sorry, they may well be successful measures, but they are only details of a larger whole which would deserve to be called content marketing.

Properly understood, content marketing provides an opportunity to revitalize the entire realm of corporate communication with fresh impulses. Everyone could benefit from it – from PR, marketing, customer services, and sales right through to HR. Content marketing concerns us all because it could be the solution to an acute problem: the rapid loss of customer confidence and the resulting threat of revenue loss. Meanwhile, 44 percent of all manufacturers brands are losing more than 30 percent of their regular customers per year (Marken Roadshow).

To counter this, companies need to put customers increasingly and more consistently in the centre of their actions. They need to develop experience worlds in which customers’ needs are met at the right time and in the right place. The product does not play the main role in the marketing of the future. The time of Customer Centricity is dawning – and in it, content marketing plays a central role. That, because it creates values without which such an adventure world can not function. Strategically, cleverly placed content which is free from paralyzing “advertising speak” should spur the conversation with customers. To put it boldly: without content marketing, corporate communications has no future.

For this reason, communicators should first ask themselves some holistic questions:

  • How can we create a “customer experience” and we what content do we need at which touchpoints?
  • How can each piece of content contribute to increasing brand appeal?
  • Do current content offerings have the necessary quality – from brochures to native advertising?
  • Is all content compatible? Do they complement each other? Or is it more of a muddle?
  • Which “Paid, Owned, Earned” content, do we need to be convincing?

Even if communication professionals plan only single content-marketing activities, they should have the higher-level communication aims in mind. Then there is no dramaturgical problem later if the content marketing is expanded. The final goal should always be to have all the content elements interacting perfectly.

In order to enable content marketing to develop its full potential, companies should be aware of these ten rules:

 

  1. Focus on top quality

In content marketing, bad quality and mediocrity have no chance. Average, interchangeable content gets lost in the flood of information. There are nearly one billion websites, and around 2.5 million emails are sent per second, while over 10,000 tweets are sent and more than 100,000 videos uploaded to YouTube. Bitter, but true: no one out there is waiting for your content.

Nevertheless, 70 percent of American B-to-B companies are now producing more content than a year ago. This abundance is not inspired, but rather annoying. Four out of five US decision-makers complain they get too much information, and on top of that it is useless and therefore, after a brief scan, lands right in the trash.

To clarify: of course content marketing is also about creating new content, but it is the quality and networking with all other content offerings which is decisive, not the quantity. The content must be first class and unique, to earn the recognition of consumers and search engines. The bottom line is: if you do not strive for excellence, then you can just as well do without content marketing. And save money.

 

  1. Use your brand as a storytelling turbo-booster

Of course you need to know what content stakeholders expect from you, but this does not mean that you should only tell them what they want to hear. It is better to show personality and strength of character which is visible in every single piece of content. Use your brand as a source of good topics and storytelling. This clear focus creates trust – and is the basis for good business.

In content marketing, it is not just about building trust; it is also about giving a brand meaning. How that can succeed is shown, for example, by the TexMex chain Chipotle. From the top quality information on the website through to top class animated films and a lavishly produced series “Farmed and Dangerous”, each of these different content measures makes a single brand message clear: we are committed to healthy, responsible food. We sell “Food with Integrity”.

Or did you know, for example, that the engines which power the famous London Tower Bridge are from Bosch? In the “Bosch World Experience”, Bosch sent six young people to places where Bosch is active, and had them recount their experiences. Through this, stories, such as that of Tower Bridge, did the rounds, and Bosch succeeded through its content marketing campaign in positioning itself as a versatile and inspiring brand.

The Marriott hotel chain’s success came through its magazine “Marriott Traveler”. It is full of inspiration for avid travelling millennials. None of the articles is about Marriott – but the selection of stories makes clear: with its 19 hotel brands and 4,200 hotels, Marriott knows the furthest reaches of the globe. Content marketing allowed Marriott to promote itself, more or less indirectly – no matter where the journey goes.

Chipotle, Bosch and Marriott – three brands, three strong characters. They show that whoever adopts an attitude, has the best starting point for strong themes and storytelling.

 

  1. The customer journey is also your “content journey”!

Did you know that consumers already have up to 90 percent of the customer journey behind them before they enter a store? And that they have used up to eleven content offerings?

Consumers now possess, thanks to the “Internetization” of the media and trade channels, an enormous research potential and freedom of choice. Businesses need to make every effort to provide timely, excellent content at every single touchpoint. For us marketers this means that we have to make the customer journey to our “content journey”.

There is much to learn and explore. For example, we need to find out when or where an interested party could become a lead or buyer. Websites seem rather unsuitable for this: 96 percent of visitors, almost all of them, are not in a buying mood. When and where can we can present sales arguments without being pushy? We need to find an answer. So far, at any rate, consumers do not seem satisfied with the information supply; only 14 percent are currently of the opinion that brand companies provide a good multichannel experience.

One thing is certain; patience pays off. Three out of four consumers give purchase preference to the brand which best supplied the most useful content during the customer journey.
For this reason, all stakeholders need – also in sales – to appreciate the need for a particularly cautious approach to content marketing.

 

  1. Determine what content your local markets need

Localization has always been a particularly tricky task – in content marketing, it is no different. Again, it is about the right feeling for different cultures and tastes. Even US companies do not have this theme under control, as shown in a survey among the visitors to the Content World Congress 2015 in Cleveland; about 60 percent confessed that they do not have a strategy for global content marketing.

In any case it makes sense to build up their own expertise in every major market. The content marketers can then decide on the spot what content suits them. In American content circles, it is estimated that around 20 percent of content is suitable for localization.

 

  1. Promote your content as a product

It doesn’t matter how good your content is – if it isn’t marketed, it won’t have an effect. You have to beat the drums for content as if it were a stand-alone product – in the social web, with paid media or with other PR activities.

How this works is shown by the German lawyer information service, which, in 2015, was awarded the German Prize for Online Communication. The mediation platform for lawyers appears as a magazine which informs readers, through top quality journalism, on different legal topics, and only as a second step, matches potential clients to appropriate lawyers.

In the Social Web, the site is strongly supported by a Facebook page (with more than 65,000 Likes). There memes are posted with legal sayings, infographics and Newsjacking on current topics. This quality pays off; 41 per cent of blog or website visitors (300,000 per month) go there via the social web.

Paid content presents situations in a humorous way in full-page ads.

PR activities – on Ebay future ex-husband Martin G. auctioned the couples joint possessions – but halved: half a car, a chair or a teddy bear. The auctions became a worldwide hype – on YouTube, in the press, on TV, and on the social web.

When the public was informed that the action was initiated by the lawyer information service to draw attention to the lack of legal protection before marriage, no one was annoyed – on the contrary: it was seen as valuable.

Good content alone is therefore not enough; you need to draw on your media potential and determine a media budget.

 

  1. Bring all your communicators to one table

One of the trickiest tasks is to bring the different skills of each department together as a meaningful whole, but it is indispensable. Establish units for content marketing.

There must be people in the company who are primarily concerned with the theme of content. For example, PR usually has the most experience in storytelling and agenda setting. Marketing and sales, in turn, is better in the management of touchpoints, where storytelling could take place.

So there is no way around it; these two skill areas need to be brought together. How this can work, for example, is demonstrated by Metro with its Genuss-Blog (pleasure-blog). It is full of good stories which, in other points of contact, such as in the typical metro mailings, are developed further. And a PR expert is responsible for storytelling on the marketing touchpoints.

 

  1. Search for your efficiency killer

Cooperation is essential, if only for cost and efficiency reasons. It is not uncommon for different departments to produce the same content – such as an app – for the lack of joint content management. A US study illustrates the scale of this problem. There, B-to-B companies annually produce deficient content to the tune of 958 billion US dollars, simply because their content management is inefficient. And in the UK, this lack of cooperation skills leads to 15 percent of companies never publishing a massive 50 percent of the content they have produced .

Motorola Solutions has learned from this. The telecommunications company now has a pool for all its content materials which communicators add to, research in and use. Thus, ridiculously expensive duplications are avoided and the expert abilities of other departments utilized.

The potential savings in content management seem considerable. If you weigh this off against the cost of content marketing, you will probably quickly come to the conclusion that content marketing can pay off.

 

  1. Get content-strategic expertise

If your company does not have any employees with content-strategic competence, you should change that quickly. Even if you plan to outsource content marketing tasks, you need at least one expert in the company who can assess the quality of the work done externally and manage it objectively.
It needs to be someone with editorial know-how, who knows the brand messages, and who can handle the service providers involved, because there could be many of them: from the online agency to PR, events and media agencies. Ideally, they should be experienced in dynamic newsroom management, because content tasks are always a “work in progress”. We are dealing with evolving processes that need highly flexible management.

Content-strategic preparations are the pre-conditions for successful content marketing. Nevertheless, this step is often skipped in the mistaken belief that it is an unnecessary burden. But the absence of a content strategy is virtually a guarantee of failure, as shown by the Content Marketing Institute. Of the companies that are disappointed in their content marketing, only 7 percent have one. And of the completely satisfied? 60 percent are in possession of a content strategy.

 

  1. Stay alert – the content landscape changes rapidly

One feature of good content marketing is that it works in the long run. It is not a campaign that can simply be stopped and replaced. Content marketing is a long-term companion, which must constantly be monitored and refreshed.

So remain vigilant, because customer needs and favoured touchpoints change rapidly. Who knows what will come after Snapchat, Instagram or Periscope? We currently should, for example, monitor content publishing platforms, Medium, LinkedIn and Facebook attentively and, if useful, integrate them in content marketing strategies.

We should indeed use the power of Google and Facebook, but not accept them as God-given at the same time. Through their filtering mechanisms, it has become difficult to approach people outside their “interests bubble”. For this reason, companies should consider additional tactics to attract the people’s interest.

So as you can see, content marketing is much more than an add-on. It enriches all communications because it changes the perspective in favour of high-quality content, which is essential for the design of a fascinating world of adventure.

 

  1. Do not forget technology!

In the content marketing process, technologies play a significant role. What does that mean? In all stages of the process, the market offers different tools – from individual solutions to the emerging full-service approach for the mass market of the Top 500 advertisers: content / social marketing cloud systems. These provide integrated solutions for the entire process, but are leaner and more agile than the big marketing cloud systems.

The top players here are called Sprinklr and Percolate. We at the Serviceplan Group use all the technologies for our customers . We need to as well, as increasingly customers themselves bring along their own proprietary technologies and solutions or we need to modify them at the customers’. This means we must be flexible.
In the content distribution process, we are currently strongly focused on the global rock star, Sprinklr. However, we are also investing heavily in our own developments to have the technological development capabilities to meet individual customer needs in our own hands.
For that we have developed two of our own technologies: one for asset and workflow management, the second for analysis and reporting.

Is content marketing just a passing trend? No way.

 

First published in German: Leserautor Gastbeitrag in W&V.