In the world of modern brands, content really is king.
There’s nothing new about the idea that content is king. Bill Gates rather infamously published that thought in 1996, and it’s stuck around ever since. But for brands — this is more true now than ever. It starts with a rather unassuming premise:
None of your customers know what you do. And marketing at them isn’t helping your cause.
Look across the funnel to see where the flaws are. Brand marketing is focused on being a compelling part of culture. Performance marketing and demand generation is desperately questing for last-click attribution. And CRM is falling into the trap of being always on sale. Who has the responsibility for actually telling the world why you’re relevant and what you have to offer?
But it doesn’t have to be all bad. Done right, content is the jet fuel of modern marketing programming. But you have to think about it as programming rather than discrete activations. Having tonnage of materials out in market doesn’t actually make your brand thrive. You have to get more intentional than that, and start with the value our brand can provide.
It’s time to rethink the funnel, focused entirely around content.
The Content Marketing Institute published their ARC model for demand generation content, really focused on B2B asset creation. Their stat: “Visitors interact with your brand 6-8x on average before they become customers.” This is all entirely true, and we know it’s equally as true for B2C and DTC brands.
Through some work we did with Allstate back in the day, we realized that considered purchases unlocked an extra step in the funnel that no one was talking about — the need for validation. Customers would go happily about their business at the top of the funnel, make their way into consideration and then get struck by doubt and. Just. Stop. They’d hop offline, reach out to friends or family members to get additional perspective. They didn’t have enough information at hand to make a decision they could stick with, and that’s really the brand’s fault. You’ve got your customer engaged. Are you helping them create the confidence of choice?
Introducing the marketing engine.
Doubts exist for all types of businesses. Anything that’s not just an impulse purchase requires more nurturing to get to a commitment. So build your content to service distinct consumers at distinct stages — and make sure to add subsequent value to keep them engaged after the fact.
Each activation the brand offers — which could be advertising, could be an event, could be an offer — should be tied to a distinct landing page that closes the loop for the consumer. But as long as that consumer is properly tracked and handled, you’ve now got a platform for re-engagement on the consumer’s terms. You have the tools now to create long-standing value.
At Stitch Fix, one of the goals of this approach was to bring distinct value to discrete client segments. Having a framework for what mattered most helped us build programming and an architecture for client onboarding that met each prospect where they were in their own journey…and provided relevant value at each stage of the funnel.
You can’t provide meaningful value unless you’re sharing a story.
Let’s be honest: stories are how we understand the world. And for any considered purchase, understanding is key to commitment. This is far beyond “what the brief is asking for” and instead deeply tied to what the human on the other end of the connection needs. Focus there or the rest of this architecture is irrelevant and you’ll lose the opportunity to build that brand connection. Tell great stories. Make great connections. But root them all in human truths and empathy revolving around the specific user you’re chasing. Don’t fall into the trap of one-size-fits-all mass marketing, because in the modern era your job is to be relevant. And relevance is deeply personal.