Increasingly more companies are realising the use of content marketing. Looking at B2B companies alone, 8 out of 10 companies state that content marketing is the priority within their marketing strategy. This is followed by search engine optimisation (70 percent) and social media (60 percent). Moreover: the fact that so much content is produced, would even make one think there is a content tsunami. This means that there is such a great offer in content, that it makes it increasingly harder to become noticed.
The content boom also illustrates another development. Increasingly more companies look for a connection with their supporters, meaning: their (potential) fans and clients. Because they are aware that products are increasingly becoming commodities: comparable products and services, where it hardly matters where you purchase them from. That is why companies ask themselves: how do I win the heart of my client? How do I develop a relationship with my target audience, so that they do not switch to a competitor in the future? They seem to (correctly) find the answer in content.
Competition larger than ever
Bad news for market leaders and traditional companies: the competition increases due to technological opportunities, that do not necessarily have to come from your industry. Consider Apple, which not only makes telephones, tablets and laptops, but will also focus on vehicles. Or tech companies such as Uber or Airbnb which are shaking up the taxi and hotel sector. In other words: you have no idea where the competition will come from and whether (and when) your market will be shaken up.
To arm yourself against the competition, search for a connection with your target audience. You can do this by making smart use of content. Good examples are Ziggo and KPN, who both deployed (relatively expensive) content productions. After all, internet from KPN is not necessarily better than internet from Ziggo, but Ziggo’s exclusive collaboration with Ajax strikes a chord with many football fans.
To further illustrate this example, I will use two wildly different cases. These are: Soufiane Touzani, (popular street footballer from the RTL7 programme Tiki Taki Touzani) and Kop-Munt.nl, the content platform of mortgage provider MUNT. MUNT only sells mortgages through mortgage consultants, it inspires and informs them on the Kop-Munt.nl platform.
Content ensures relevance
How do you ensure that you become, and remain relevant for your target audience? In Touzani’s case, it went as follows. He was on the way to become a professional footballer, when he was diagnosed with scoliosis and he was no longer allowed to continue as a player — he was only allowed to do kick ups. When one of Touzani’s friends filmed a video of his football skills, he enjoyed more than 100 million views on YouTube. He currently has 400,000 likes on Facebook, 550,000 followers on YouTube and more than 1 million Instagram followers. This led to Touzani begin invited by AC Milan to kick a ball with Ronaldinho, when his signing was announced by the Italian club (Haverkort, 2017). In other words: the fact Touzani shared content on a regular basis made him relevant for football clubs and companies.
The same applies for MUNT. By regularly distributing content about mortgages, the brand becomes relevant for mortgage consultants. The makers of the platform opt for a smart mix. On the one hand there is the Munt (tails) section: hard news, such as research, figures, trends, developments and new legislation. On the other hand, there is the Kop (heads) section: visions, opinions and the working methods of mortgage consultants. In this way it is a platform for and with mortgage consultants. The Kop-Munt name is naturally a major reference to the MUNT brand.
No relationship without relevance
Because Touzani shares videos on a regular basis, his followers also expect that he will share content with them. This creates a relationship: his followers give their time, attention and energy, in exchange for his entertaining football videos. It is nice to state that it is not only aspiring footballers who follow Touzani, but that Chelsea star Edin Hazard used to watch Touzani’s videos as a young boy as well. The same applies to Aubameyang, Arsenal’s French striker.
Because MUNT distributes objective and relevant content, mortgage consultants view Munt’s website and social media channels as a relevant news source. The brand does not have more than 1,500 LinkedIn followers or 1,200 Twitter followers. Which is also not necessary: there are only 15,000 mortgage consultants in the Netherlands. The majority of them are also reached by the platform, which also occurs because other news media take content from Kop-Munt.nl. In other words: a relevant network of consultants has been created — the MUNT target audience –thanks to consistent communication about what they are busy with (namely: mortgages).
Developing relationships increases revenue
How have MUNT and Touzani used the developed relationships? The footballer was awarded a role in the FIFA Street computer game and performed for companies and at events, because he became increasingly well-known for his football videos. He creates his videos not just for YouTube, but now also for RTL7, which has led to Touzani being accepted into the traditional media world. The Rotterdam footballer uses his reach on social media to promote third party products. The developed relationships of the street footballer ensure commercial objectives are being achieved.
MUNT is able to sell more than 10 billion euros worth of mortgages in the Dutch market within three years. That is admirable, certainly when you consider that MUNT supplies to intermediaries rather than to consumers. This provides them with a clear image of the fears, desires and motives of mortgage consultants: after all, they see which products score best on their website. This allows for even better communication with the target audience. Above all, MUNT has direct contact with mortgage consultants, thanks to the content platform. This also ensures growth in the future.
Revenue alone is not enough
The major benefit of a relationship developed with fans and clients is that it not only ensures revenue at the current time. It ensures that you as a company, brand or artist can also be relevant in the future. Imagine: in four years’ time Touzani hears that he can never do a kick up ever again. Then he will still have a reach that is large enough to be relevant for media companies. He has secured his right to exist, also for a career after freestyle football.
MUNT has now developed such a strong connection with mortgage consultants that it can also offer other products. Consider software for instance, to be able to calculate the value of a property quicker. This allows MUNT to secure its right to exist if it gets competition from another supplier, by offering other services or products. Moreover, it is ahead of the competition thanks to its strong connection with the target audience.
Getting to work with content
The examples from this chapter are crystal clear. They explain why increasingly more companies and artists use content marketing. It also has something democratic about it: these days, anyone with a smartphone and talent can break through and achieve financial independence. But it also presents challenges, specifically technically.
How often should I post a message? When should I do this? How can I earn something from my followers and likes? How can I rely less on social media channels, which seem to change their conditions every few months?
Maybe you are not selling mortgages and you probably do not have the football talent of Touzani. You can, if you follow the theory of the framework, use content to develop a relationship with a following though, and use this to also be relevant in the future. The promise that your business becomes more valuable when you get to work with the content of this publication is not just a bunch of big words. It shows that the framework for data is relevant for every business which wants to still have a right to exist in ten years’ time. The next chapter will show how a Dutch top DJ sold out the Amsterdam ArenA twice thanks to using data.
- This post is a pre-read of Part 3 — Chapter 2 of my new book ‘Digital Assets’ the translation of the Dutch publication ‘Digitaal Vermogen’.
- Also read the publication ‘EDM and the Digital Domain’