Well, 2014 is in play now as are the Denver Broncos who will hopefully win a playoff game this year─thereby ensuring the Johnson household is a happy one. Oops! Never mind, wrong topic. Yet the thought of Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos does bring some much needed warmth that is quite inspiring amid this insipid cold. As Loyalty360 is in the midst of wrapping up its most recent industry brief that focuses on content, and how brands can effectively use and administer content to drive value, I pondered the challenges from both the brands and suppliers in this unique and rapidly growing industry as this is a topical and timely one for our members.

The first “Challenge of Content,” as we all know, is the ability for brands to create an honest and effective method of engagement with their consumers. Not unlike our most recent industry brief that focused on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), the challenge of content marketing/engagement is quite similar. Content needs to be consistent with both the charter, mission, objectives, as well as other marketing and employee engagement paradigms within the organization. As we discussed in our previous industry brief, brands know there is a revenue opportunity associated with creating unique, unbiased content much like they do with being a socially responsive citizen, yet inasmuch as that is a consideration, plaudits go to those who have consistent organizational-based objectives where financial benefit can follow!

The second “Challenge of Content” is also reflected in the challenge of listening. As we spoke of in our 2014 trends article, brands should focus on an idea of simplicity. Simplicity should be something that is considered in light of the current landscape and increasing complexities of the marketing environment. The proliferation of technologies, data, and the challenges of obtaining insight into consumer behavior, interest, and opportunities will become increasingly intricate. As we’ve discussed, brands who make the challenge more complex and make it more difficult for the consumers to engage with them will be challenged in the arena of content.

The third challenge of content is the “Challenge of Culture.” Organizational confines and limitations also play a big impact into the ability of a brand to have an effective and efficient content strategy. Content has dramatically evolved in the past few years and will increasingly become a key tool to consider in the marketing mix going forward.

As we saw in industry brief from speaking with both brands and marketers, the No. 1 pressing issue that individuals face is the corporate organizations/cultures that are open, honest, and have the ability to empower consumers and truly understand/have a unique relationship with them. Those who have the most loyal and engaged populace are the ones that have the opportunity to create the most effective content for their members.

Organizations that traditionally struggle to lead, and then listen and are not proactive in the manner by which they communicate with their consumers will be the ones that fail to show impact in this area. Cultural consistency and resistance to change should also be viewed and understood.

The fourth “Challenge of Content” is measurement. The objective for content should be a process by which brands increase collaboration via their proactive community with their consumers. The end goal should always be commerce, yet the challenge to discern content and figure out how it can be measured needs to be addressed in 2014.

Brands need to be able to have a unique set of measurements, both short- and long-term. They need to realize that content should not necessarily be solely focused on driving short-term commerce. Long-term engagement and loyalty and increased commitment from their constituencies should be goals for consideration, yet like some of the challenges associated with the social and other emerging technologies, the focus on short-term measurable financial goals often supersedes the longer-term and less defined pragmatic financial measurements that CFOs are looking for today. This is addressed in a very unique perspective in our soon-to-be released industry white paper.

The final challenge of content - The Content “Expert”- speaks to today’s content visionaries. I still think it’s quite haughty/arrogant for an individual to call (label) themselves a visionary. I only think the market or a significant faction of an industry should have the ability to call one a visionary and it should also be a very distinguished and seldom-used term. Individuals such as Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, J.D. Power, Henry Ford, Thomas Savery, or Charles Ranlett Flint should be considered “visionaries.” Visionaries lead to increased dissonance in the channel for content, and makes it more difficult to find actionable strategies that engage and address the aforementioned challenges.

I would love to hear any thoughts you have related to content. 

About the Author: Mark Johnson

Mark is CEO & CMO of Loyalty 360. He has significant experience in selling, designing and administering prepaid, loyalty/CRM programs, as well as data-driven marketing communication programs. 

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