Content is the new currency of effective marketing. Why? Because the power has shifted and the model has changed. Businesses can no longer get away with blasting messages, proudly trumpeting their products or services, and expecting customers to respond.

Consumers and business buyers alike are now in the driver’s seat. They are actively looking for brands that solve their problems. They search, they ask and they validate your offering – not from what you tell them, but from what they can find out and from their friends and colleagues.

In such a model content becomes king. Genuine, authentic content – true to yourself and your brand. But there is so much information, or content, available to the point that at times it feels overwhelming. Our inboxes are full of spam, the web is exploding and we are exposed to more and more communications that are nothing more than hot air. Do you want to add to that?

So how can a business develop content that truly engages?

I believe there is a sweet spot where you will be able to cut through and engage customers and prospects alike. That sweet spot is where content is digestible, solves problems and is grounded in your competitive advantage.

1. Digestible. It must be where and when your target wants it. To truly know that, you need to understand their life, their pressures and how they like to be engaged. This requires a much deeper understanding of your core customers and targets. A 140 character tweet might be fine for one customer, while a detailed technical paper is okay for another.

2. Solves problems. Real problems, customer problems. This has always been so, however, most marketing just doesn’t deliver. If a customer can’t make the connection to their needs – at an emotional or functional level – then it will be wallpaper.

3. Grounded in your competitive advantage. What is unique about your offering?Nothing? A clear, distinctive competitive advantage should be at the heart of not only marketing but also your business strategy. Time to ask some hard questions and look within.

There are times when your marketing may well only focus on one or two at best. That’s fine, but on its own it won’t be truly engaging.

Digestible and focuses on your competitive advantage: purely promotional!

Solves problems and is digestible: what role are you playing?

Solves problems and is grounded in your competitive advantage: no chance of cutting through!

So start looking for your sweet spot – it’s a journey worth taking!

James Atkins
BY James Atkins ON 17 November 2011
James Atkins is a director of Vantage, a boutique consultancy dedicated to helping people find strategic and marketing clarity in their business.
  • Bunny

    I totally agree. It seems too that another buzz word for content right now is emotion – i.e. your content needs to be emotive.

    • Without emotion you wont make a connection..or at least one that will have a lasting impact – good point Bunny!

  • Peter Applebaum

    All true James BUT the challenge is turning companies making / marketing widgets into companies publishing fascinating information about widgets. Their systems & processes are not set-up to do it nor are most managers convinced about the benefits of such a strategy. We will get there but there but for many marketers it’s far easier to attend conferences and read articles than it is to champion content rich digital & social media programs. What we need is a clutch of successful content marketing case studies to use as ammunition against the naysayers.

    • Agree some case studies will help…but need to change the angle from marketing being about your widget to what problem are you solving for customers.