A few months ago I wrote about the evolution of marketing, recounting the strategic shifts I’ve seen over my career. The one I left off was how brands are becoming publishers. The “miss” is due to the fact that we’re very much in the middle of this shift. In some cases, Intel has been at the forefront, as have other leading brands. While some are debating the pros and cons of being a publisher, others are leading by example.
This is top of mind as I was asked to speak at the internal marketing summit of a large consumer brand. Their goal was to drive change in both how they market, as well as their culture, with the desire to move from a follower to a leader. It’s a great goal and I give them credit for taking the initiative and bringing their marketing teams together from around the world.
I was on a panel called: ”Branded Content Creation” and wanted to share some of the points I raised on behalf of my experience at Intel.
We’ve learned a lot over the past few years, with our share of wins and losses. The important thing is to never stand still and push the boundaries, learning and optimizing as you go. So here are a few “tenants” we live by:
- Start with a strategy: This may seem obvious but it’s critical to reinforce why you are creating content and your target. At times we encouraged speed and creativity and found that strategy, and ultimately effectiveness, was an afterthought.
- Know your brand platform: I can’t emphasize this enough. Be clear on your brand, who you are, how do you want others to perceive you and who do you want to connect to? Optimism and Unexpected are an important part of the Intel brand. We want consumers to see more than the technical, manufacturing side but also the passion our employees bring to work daily. We want to share the wonder of technology with a broad audience and we strive to make the complex simple.
- Put content at the center: Content has moved to a primary part of our strategy, across our various audiences including B2B and consumer. From our marketing strategy we develop a content strategy to reach our marketing goals.
- Be timely and relevant: People will engage with you when it’s something they are interested in. For example, our Social team loves Newsjacking. This is when you enter a conversation real time. It can be about entertainment, news, etc. We did a series of posts around key television show premieres such as Mad Men, Game of Thrones, etc. We used the hash tags around these “events” and entered the conversation with a related, yet Intel spin. People engage and share and we become part of the larger conversation, at the moment the conversation is happening.
- Integrate: Integrated Marketing used to be a buzz word several years ago and it’s even truer today. As we see mulit-tasking, multi-channel viewing and usage, the integration of our messages, content and touch points are critical.
- Keep your ears and minds open: Gone are the days of single dialog or even 2-way. You need to develop a sense for when you create, share, respond, listen and learn.
- Own your distribution strategy and plan: You need to be clear on how you will distribute any content you produce. The idea of something just “going viral” is an exception, not the rule. At Intel, we also wanted to own a distribution channel and thus created iQ. This is a Digital Magazine that has the added benefit of being a Media Destination as well. We can create and even co-create content with our OEM partners and editorial partners like Buzzfeed, MTV and strategic partners to drive impact. Learn more about the strategy behind iQ.
- Organize and staff for success: We are changing how we market and that will require different resources, staff and perhaps a different structure. Seeing the synergy between paid and earned media, we created one Integrated Media group to drive all things media. As the need for timely and relevant content increases, we need to look at new models for production. Whether you partner with an agency or develop an in-house studio, you need to develop a real-time system.
It’s an exciting time to be in marketing as our desire for impact and speed is leading to new approaches and philosophies. Content marketing, and brands acting as publishers, is at the center of the evolution we see today. Marketers must respond rapidly to events and content (branded, co-branded or independent) is rapidly becoming our secret weapon in driving relevance and sales.