Q&A. Content marketing The ID Group Bournemouth, Dorset

We continue our Q&A session with content marketing author, speaker and connoisseur Trevor Young.

Part two looks at the recent Content Marketing Institute 2013 Australian report, the need for businesses to take an altruistic approach and also the role content marketing is going to play in 2014 and beyond.

According to the recent Content Marketing Institute and Association of Data driven Marketing & Advertising report, 93% of Australian companies surveyed now use content marketing (more than UK and US), has this been apparent over the past few years in Australia?

Trevor Young. The ID Group content marketingI think the question posed in the study is a bit of a misnomer. As we all know, companies creating content for commercial purposes, to build their brand, has been with us a long time.

There’s no real surprise that figure is high in Australia, or anywhere else for that matter. That said, I don’t think we can read much into it. Whether companies in Australia are producing content in a smart way, with what I like to say “passion, purpose and strategic intent” – whether they’re creating content that’s useful, inspiring or thought-provoking, content that adds value versus by-the-numbers chest-beating content that just adds to the noise and serves little purpose – that’s another story.

Yes, Aussie businesses are becoming better and more strategic in what they’re producing, I’m definitely seeing that, but I would think we’re still well behind the US and UK.

The same would go with the smart and strategic use of social media generally. But things are changing, and we have some excellent examples of companies doing it right, so that’s heartening, and it’s only going to get better from here as marketers and company leaders get a better handle on what content marketing is and how they can best go about doing it properly.

The report highlights that UK and Australia use blogs more frequently than US counterparts. What do you see as the most effective platforms to build an audience (from the CMI/ADMA survey, e-newsletters were the most effective tactic)?

I think definitely a vibrant, well nurtured and information-packed blog should form the heart of a company’s content efforts (indeed, it should be the cornerstone of their marketing effort generally). For a larger organisation, add a content hub like an online newsroom into the mix and it’s a pretty powerful combination.

I believe e-newsletters can be a very powerful tool too – I think they’re perhaps more important than ever given people need to opt-in to your list.

Attracting people to your blog or podcast or online video series, and then encouraging them to become a subscriber so you can continue the relationship over time (and yes, make commercial offers from time to time) is a powerful strategy in today’s noisy and fragmented marketplace.

Counterintuitive I know, but there’s definitely substance there. This is one of the things we can learn from the ‘micro mavens’ – those individuals who are out there using social media and content marketing to build mini business empires around their personal brand, as discussed in my book microDOMINATION. To the micro maven, an email subscriber list is a business asset worth it’s virtual weight in gold!

Personally, I also think Twitter is incredible from a networking and relationship-building perspective; I’m liking SlideShare more and more, and think there’s tremendous upside with this platform; and I’m an unabashed fan of the humble podcast. I don’t think podcasting has hit its potential height yet, so watch this space!

Is the future for marketing behaviour about becoming more altruistic (a greater cause and helping others) rather than focusing 100% on a product or service?

You’re definitely right there – if you look at what people expect and respect, it is for companies to be bigger than their products and services – we gravitate to those businesses that become a relevant part of our lives, that add value, that contribute to the community in which they operate, whether that’s their small local geographic community where they are based, or a global, distributed online community. The future belongs to those brands that understand this and can tap into such sentiment.

As I like to say, “sell the light, not the light globe“.

You mention in one of your blog posts ‘11 examples of companies in Australia who are doing content marketing right‘. What is it that makes these companies stand out?

They are having what I believe is a genuine dip at creating interesting and valuable content for their community; in other words, I think their heart is definitely in the right place and they’re attacking content and social with gusto! Are they perfect?

No, I think to varying degrees all brands mentioned somewhere along the line have got a way to go – let’s face it, we could all do things better! – but it is the intent and the value they’re trying to bring to the marketplace that I wanted to applaud and acknowledge.

You mention in your ‘why your company is now in the publishing business‘ article that the barriers to entry no longer exist. How much of an exciting/challenging proposition is this for the future of business?

From a PR and marketing standpoint, this is the greatest time to be in this business. I’ll add a caveat however – only if you want to embrace change! Old-school marketers and ‘control freak’ PR peeps are probably hating the way the world is going.

To be able to cost-effectively create your own content at scale; to be able to leverage social media channels to grow your audience and deepen the intensity of connection you have with your constituents, is truly amazing. I seriously believe that, and not a day goes past where I get blown away by something someone has done – brand or individual – using new media technologies to do something cool that attracts attention and adds value.

Coming from a PR background, we’ve kind of been doing this for decades, but the cost was prohibitive and the lead times it took to produce and distribute content was a definite irritant. And yes, we tended to in the past bang on too much about the company and its products, rather than add value, educate, empower and inform.

So this shift – creating content inexpensively, with scale and in real time – is music to this PR guy’s ears because technology now enables us to do what we’ve always wanted to, do, and that’s tell stories, grow an audience, participate in two-way dialogue with the people who matter the most to our business, and nurture relationships with them over the long term.

For that reason, PR today stands for public relationships, not public relations, and the opportunity for anyone who wants to get out there and develop and grow their own audience and in turn nurture a community of followers and advocates, is a very real proposition.

Exciting times!

 microdomination. The ID group content marketing

Huge thanks for Trevor taking part in the ‘Talking Content’ session.

To read part one of the Q&A, which looks at what content marketing means and the power of an idea, click here.

To read more about Trevor, click here for his site. For further detail and to purchase his new book click microDOMINATION.

Why not connect with Trevor on Twitter @trevoryoung

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