Words From The Wise @Dan Evans

Dan Evans is Creative Director @ Leo Burnett

 

Oh no, another chat about content.

I know, its passed peak buzzword territory and now lapping the old hat shores of blog fodder. There has been a ton of articles written about what exactly is content marketing, what it isn’t and how to do it well. You’ve probably seen them all on sites that claim to specialise in ‘content’, the ones with the weird URLS like ‘SE0-Masters-Social-Gurus.agency*’. This I hope will be a tad more interesting, as at the end of it I’m not planning to sell you my snazzy new content marketing e-book.

You might have noticed how I slyly moved from the title of content into content marketing all in the space of a paragraph. So I guess I owe you to first talk about content itself. Content is, as boring as it sounds, the bits and bobs that fill up the internet. No magical insight there. The interesting bit about all this content is that most of it doesn’t come from agencies, brands or companies. In fact a big chunk of the most successful content out there comes from small bands of creators or individuals. Unlike the old media where you needed media agencies, printing houses and a host of other third parties to get messages out there, now you don’t.

Every tool you need to create content is available to the consumer. From cameras to editing software through to free hosting platforms and open source tools. The creators don’t need us anymore. For a lot of agencies, they’re waking up to the fact that some of the brightest and most creative people are now going it alone. Advertising isn’t the shiny bright start of the creative industry, the lure of having access to audiences has diminished. The smart agencies are working harder than ever to reach out to these new creators, going beyond the classic avenues of university graduates and expecting people to come running to them. But for now that can wait and I’ll pick it up with another post in the future.

So, let’s get back on track. Content. Marketing. So what is different from good ol’ marketing? As simple as I can put it – Content Marketing is playing in the same playground as our audience. We create, communicate, make in the same spaces and in the same ways the very audience does.

We can upload a video, like they do. Host a photo, like they do. Create a page, make a blog, tweet out, email, make sites, bots, conversations, like our audience is capable of.

This means two things for me. One we don’t influence culture as much as we have to be part of the culture we want to play with. We let it influence us, shape us a little and give up a bit of our ego when thinking of ourselves as master communicators. We’re smart but so is our audience. Let them influence us and help redefine what we think a great advert can be.

Secondly it means our life is harder. If we want to go play in that content playground we have to remember we have no right to expect that we’re wanted there. We have to add value to this. The value exchange. What value are we offering to the audience and not only that what are we doing for our brands? If we’re turning up with the weight of a brand and agency behind us, the audience we’re in will have expectations. This is where the power of advertising still lies, still has that sheen. We’re the curators of value between brands and audiences. Brands can speak for themselves and audiences can respond directly but we are the ones that can speak for both sides and craft the value between the two so everyone can benefit.

So next time you think of creating content for brands, stop thinking of how to reach the audience but start thinking of how can you be part of the culture, not starting conversations but curating what’s out there. Not starting with a presentation but beginning by listening.

Then hopefully you’ll not just have good marketing but great content too.

Dan Evans is Creative Director @ Leo Burnett and Founder & Editor @ Hello You Creatives

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