Why Brands Should Create Content, Not Campaigns

Making the case for Content-based versus Campaign-based Marketing

If you’re in Advertising & Marketing industry, I have some bad news: no one wants to see your digital advertising campaigns. But the good news is I have an alternative. Create Content, not Ad Campaigns.

I say this after 30 years in the media industry, having been part of some of the biggest media and advertiser brands in the world. I’ve worked for media brands MTV, CNBC, Yahoo! and Singapore’s Mediacorp. I’ve also led Marketing functions for brands like PayPal, Nokia and Singtel.

Here are three reasons why your brand has to stop making campaigns the centerpiece of your Marketing.

Most of your paid media is lost to fake accounts, bots and outright fraud.

Reason #1: you’re wasting money. Remember when the joke was “Half of my marketing budget is wasted but I don’t know which half?” Well it’s much, much worse. Most of your paid media budgets are lost to fake sites, bots, fake profiles and outright fraud.

Go ahead and Google “Ad Fraud” and you’ll realize there’s a
ton of research on this topic so you know I’m not exaggerating.

Reason #2: For over 100 years the consumer on the left has been trying to get to the content he wants on the right, while the role of the advertiser has been to interrupt and get in the way.

For decades
that was a fair exchange. However today interruption is a road tax consumers
are no longer willing to pay.

because the digital consumer lives in an age of unprecedented freedom. He can
consume whatever content he wants, whenever, wherever and even on whatever
device he wants.

In such a
world, interruption has become unacceptable. That’s the reason why we have ad
blockers today.

Consider your own experience as a consumer. Do you pay for any of the following subscription services: Spotify, Netflix, Amazon Prime? Now ask yourself if you would still pay if they started sticking ads in the middle of your favorite Netflix show.

No. Of course you wouldn’t.

Reason #3: The peaks on this line represent your brand’s ability to reach its target audience…but only when you’re buying ads. You can only reach your audience when you pay. I don’t know about you but that doesn’t sound sustainable.

When you
buy ads you aren’t building an audience, you’re renting someone else’s audience.

So the challenge for brands in the age of consumer choice is this…instead of being about interruption, instead of being about pushing your marketing messages at audiences, and instead of having your marketing strategy being dependent on campaigns, offer content that consumers are actually interested in. Content they will consume willingly and even want to share.

Marketing strategy has now evolved from Campaign-based to Content-based.

I’m of
course referring to Content Marketing. But I’m not just referring to another
marketing tactic or producing a bunch of videos and buying Facebook ads around

Here are three reasons why Content needs to be at the very heart of your Marketing strategy…

Reason #1: You’re now building your own audience. They’re following your social media channels. They’re subscribing to your newsletter. They’re actually giving you their email address with permission stay in touch. Do this correctly and the relationship gets deeper and deeper while that audience grows over time.

Walt Disney
understood this very well back in 1957: build a loyal audience and community
around your content (Disney’s theatrical business) and all kinds of
monetization opportunities follow: music, TV, theme parks, merchandising.

The Walt Disney Company’s strategy from 1957 until today.

Think Star Wars and Marvel: this is still Disney’s strategy today.

But you
don’t need Disney-level budgets to do this successfully…Look at how well SMEs
use YouTube.

Long Island Watch Company: 100,000 subscribers, 22 million views…production budget: zero.

Long Island Watch Company, for example, runs a multimillion-dollar watch business just with a YouTube channel and an email newsletter. Tell me, do these videos look expensive? They shoot their videos right there in the office!

100,000 subscribers, 22 million views…production budget: zero.

Salesforce’s Dreamforce: Content so valuable the audience is willing to pay to be marketed to

Reason #2: You can build a loyal community that trusts and loves your brand.

This photo above isn’t from a Taylor Swift concert. It’s from last year’s Salesforce Dreamforce, where 170,000 people turned up. They paid $2000 a head to attend a Salesforce-branded event where people came to listen to people talk about the industry…and talk about Salesforce.

Jyske Bank runs its own streaming financial news service

Jyske Bank is the third largest bank in Denmark. In 2006 they launched their own Danish-language streaming news service, which is now one of the most trusted financial news sources in the country.

A bank…with
its own TV station. Denmark has roughly the same population as Singapore. Think
about that…

Jyske Bank
realized they could do this by focusing on the audience first. They identified
what kind of content the audience wanted, they identified where they as a brand
could have credibility and the intersection between the two is where they
arrived at a content strategy.

Reason #3: Content works across the marketing funnel, accompanying the audience on their user journey from Awareness to Loyalty.

As a brand
you can leverage owned channels, social media channels and tactically use some
paid media, as long as the focus remains on growing your own subscriber base
and building that community.

Let’s look
at a few couple more inexpensive Content Marketing examples…

Customer Data Platform Optimove publishes its own mar-tech online magazine and newsletter. They now have over 40,000 digital marketers from all over the world as subscribers.

Workday is
a Cloud-based enterprise software company. In Asia, they use multimedia content
to reach out to CHROs, CFOs, CTOs and CIOs with online content and even an
actual print publication. That’s right, an old-fashioned paper magazine.

Full circle: Workday is now publishing its own (paper) magazine in Asia Pacific

I heard their editor was contacted by a competitor asking if they could be featured. Awkward.

Essential reading: founders of the Content Marketing Institute describe the audience you’re building as your “pre-customer database”

Finally, the way to think about the audience you’re building is that they are your “Pre-Customer Database.” That is, they may not be your customers today, they may not even buy from you tomorrow or next month. But when the need arises for a product in your category, yours is the first brand they think of because they already have a relationship with you.

Your Content Marketing isn’t just pretty videos and infographics…it’s now the core driver of Demand Generation for your brand.

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