One of the things I enjoy most about working in the consumer sector is the opportunity to work with some of the biggest and best brands in the world, and the people behind them – people who just ‘get’ what makes a good brand and how to communicate that to their target market. Throughout my 26 years at The MBS Group I’ve seen a lot of changes to the way that marketing and brands work, but nothing has been more revolutionary than the migration to the internet. Whereas in the old days brands needed big budget TV adverts to reach even a fraction of their target market, the internet offers the ability to directly interact with consumers and to create a huge impact on a tiny budget.
As brands have realised that they need to interact with their customers just to get their attention in the first place, let alone actually sell them something, they’ve embarked on new marketing strategies. Consumer-focused content marketing has become increasingly popular as brands strive to offer an experience alongside their core products and services. Good content comes in all shapes and sizes, from newsletters to YouTube videos and beyond. As long as it encourage consumers to interact with the brand it’s promoting, it’s working. A good example is the Top Tips page of LA Fitness’ website, a series of how-to guides. It won’t directly make the company any money at all, but it encourages consumers to get active while showing that the people at LA Fitness know what they’re talking about. As a website, it will be discovered by people who are doing fitness-related searches, and who are very much the company’s target audience. As a piece of marketing, it’s immediately successful because it conveys an effective message to exactly the right people. Compare that to the scattergun approach of conventional media.
LA Fitness’ content was actually created by content specialist Quill. Quill was founded by Ed Bussey, born out of his experience in ecommerce at Figleaves.com. Figleaves itself is a very good example of the rise of digital content. As a division of the N Brown group it’s part of a cutting-edge mix of multichannel clothing companies, and it successfully mixes conventional media with impressive content, including their blog. Ed realised that there was an increasing need for brands to become publishers in order to help consumers navigate their purchasing decisions in the face of overwhelming choice. In his own words: “consumers are suffering from information overload. They’re being bombarded by marketing messages, to a point where they are more likely to summit Everest than to click on a banner ad. That’s why it’s so important for brands to create quality content that achieves what is missing online – the equivalent of a shop assistant making a difference to the consumer whether through guidance, education or simply entertainment.
Ed is exactly the sort of visionary that the internet has allowed to flourish, and I think people like him will have a huge effect on consumer-facing brands. What’s the best piece of content you’ve interacted with? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org, and have a lovely weekend.