Brands: Why it’s Time to Start Thinking Editorial

Written by Matt Carroll

More deliverables, more channels, more often. In recent years, this has been the ‘golden’ rule in content marketing, as brands join a content arms race in a bid to battle for consumer eyeballs. The trouble is, more is not always good.

With new channels constantly appearing on the scene, the knee-jerk response from many brands is to simply increase the amount of ‘stuff’ they’re putting out; the approach being that if you’re not there, you’re not relevant. This, however, creates a number of problems.

The content arms-race
Firstly, it’s not sustainable. Marketing budgets are not rising at the same rate as the demand for deliverables; if anything, they’re trending in the opposite direction. So when available-spend-per-asset is coming down, how are you going to continue satisfying the increasing demand for content, without blowing your budget?

Secondly (and more importantly): even if you are able to find a hack for this, with every business joining the content
arms race, there’s more ‘brand noise’
online than ever before – making it harder to attract (and keep) your audience’s attention.

Too many brands are still stuck in the Old Advertising mindset of ‘whoever shouts loudest’ (or in this case, chucks out most ‘stuff’) wins. But how many times have you seen branded videos with just a couple of hundred (at best, a few thousand) views?

Even if you’re the coolest, most authentic brand on the planet, if you’re constantly pestering people for attention they’ll eventually stop listening and move on. If you’re serious about cultivating and engaging your audience, longterm, it’s time to take some tips from the people who invented content marketing: media owners.

It’s time to think Editorial!
While it’s not cool to acknowledge ‘old media’, like it or not: magazines, newspapers and TV stations were successfully attracting and engaging consumers in longterm relationships decades before anyone ‘invented’ content marketing. The only difference between ‘us’ and them is that the content was their product – whereas we use content to sell product.

While I’m not suggesting that everyone should set up their own YouTube channel or magazine, there are some fundamental learnings we can take from our editorial cousins. Namely, ask yourself a simple question ahead of issuing each brief: ‘Why?’

Why are we creating this content? And more importantly: why is anyone going to care?
As someone who’s spent 20 years writing for some of the world’s most successful media outlets – including GQ, National Geographic Traveller, The Telegraph, and many others – I’ve spent most of my career identifying the stories that people want and care about, simply by asking this one, simple question.

But don’t just take my word for it. Look at some of the most successful content-marketers of the last decade – Rapha, Net-a-Porter and (of course) Red Bull. The reason their consumers remain so engaged – for so long – is because they feel understood. They feel moved. And they want more.

So while asking this simple (but obvious) question will help you use your budget more efficiently. More importantly – crucially: it will help you to stop creating endless, meaningless ‘stuff’ – and instead start creating Assets. The thing that will really add value to your brand.

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