As an artist, brand or organisation you want to get in contact with potential followers or customers. Moreover: you depend on this if you still want to generate revenue in the future. For this you use, all being well, content: videos, texts, images, etc. To succeed with content, two things are important: a digital heartbeat and extremely relevant content.
A session I did two years ago with Michiel Schoonhoven from Next Level Impact revealed a new working model, connected to the framework. This model manages the second layer from the framework and ensures the implementation. Schoonhoven explains how the Content Impact Model helps you generate revenue with relevant content, save costs and even develop new revenue models.
Building valuable relationships
Schoonhoven has been involved with content marketing for more than ten years. “Actually, this sector only really came into existence from 2010 and acquired this name in America, namely through one of its founders, Joe Pulizzi.” What is content marketing? “Traditional marketing is primarily based on the 4 Ps (product, place, price and promotion), where marketers often focus on campaigns and advertising: purchasing reach and converting that into revenue.
Content marketing revolves around the entire process of building valuable relationships between an organisation and its audience (the fans, customers, prospects, partners and suppliers). This is done through developing relevant and impactful content (in the form of information, education and inspiration, among other things) and sharing this in all phases of the relationship, from the initial contact up to and including the ambassadorship.”
What prompted your passion for content marketing?
“Before commencing work as an independent content strategist in 2014, I worked for a financial consultancy organisation for many years. Here I was responsible for the marketing activities to increase the mortgage and insurance revenue. I made my first steps into what is now referred to as ‘content marketing’ around 2009.”
“Back then it did not feel right that we were primarily involved in ‘lead generation’ to sell financial products and did not do anything with the relationship with all these customers that had purchased these products. This prompted me to develop the marketing activities in a different way. In this transition I asked the question: what is actually the greater purpose of this financial consultancy organisation, for example? The answer appeared to be: make and keep people financially healthy.”
“From 2010 this resulted in completely new concepts, such as a Financial Fitness programme, Finance Month and a Financial Check for Life Changes. Programmes that were based entirely on content and offered people insight into their financial situation. We gave valuable financial tips and a personalised roadmap to a healthy financial situation. These content programmes became a product in themselves, which are still being used today.”
“Ultimately, an insurance, mortgage or other financial product became a way to become, or remain, financially ‘fit’, but the financial product was no longer the point of departure for the marketing activities. Here we clearly used content to develop a relationship between clients and the financial consultants. We received many enthusiastic responses, such as: ‘finally, an organisation that does not push products, but really assists me with valuable information’. The results were positive, as a far better relationship was being developed between the consultants and their clients, among other things. This new marketing approach gave me such satisfaction, that I decided to specialise further on this theme.”
Content Impact Model
Precisely that question (‘what is our role, who are we?’) remains Schoonhoven’s point of departure when he develops a content strategy for a company. “I have turned my experiences into a model that I have fine-tuned further in recent years. Here the ‘why’ question is still the point of departure of every project we do.” This ‘Why’ is evident in the core of the model.
“Creating and distributing content must always happen with the greater purpose (the ‘why’) in mind. In addition, it has to be completely in line with the needs of your audience. When content is exclusively used as a ‘sales trick’, then you are not working in an authentic way. It begins with thinking about which content really adds value for your audience and how you can share it with them optimally in a rhythm (the digital heartbeat, editor), so that you do not simply post content on social media in a random way.”
“Therefore, always ask the question: why would someone spend their valuable time following me? This is why it is of upmost importance to think ‘outside-in’.
What inspires or informs your followers or fans? We call the people at our agency who are busy with content ‘fan experience managers’, and with good reason: they manage the experiences of fans and it is no coincidence that they do this by way of content.”
Three reasons why content pays off
Schoonhoven cites three reasons to use content today to develop a valuable relationship with your followers, fans, clients and prospects:
1: Increase your revenue
“In this day and age, it is crucial to think audience first. First develop a (digital) relationship with a clearly defined audience using valuable content. This relationship ensures that you can generate revenue in the long term.”
In fact, you must be able to summarise every content strategy in a promise to your audience. A brief example:
It is my aim to get more people all over the world to exercise more, so that they can become healthier and more confident. Everything that I do is done with this objective in mind. If you believe this is as important as me, then I am happy to invite you to our community where the members and I share various experiences, information and tips which help to exercise more. Our members state that after 3 months they have exercised 50% more and feel much fitter. And more importantly: thanks to all the inspiration in the community they are easily able to maintain this and do not fall back into old and ‘lazy’ habits.”
If you formulate this promise effectively, and use this as your guide, you will develop content and offer products that automatically match this. Here the content can even be used in a sustainable way, which allows you to develop new revenue models. Consider for example access to the community in the form of a monthly subscription, if the content is so valuable that someone is willing to pay for it.
With sustainable content you also prevent that you only pop up on the volatile social media timelines, where people simply scroll and every now and then make the effort to move their thumbs to click the like button. With your content, get them to constantly have a ‘stop, I need to see this because this is always cool/interesting’ moment! This allows you to work on the growth of your revenue and you do this in an efficient way. An own content platform that you have control over is crucial for this. Do not become too dependent of ‘borrowed’ channels such as Facebook!
2: Save costs
If you do not share relevant content with your followers, you are becoming less and less visible on their timelines. “Facebook announced on 13 January 2018 that channels with barely or no dialogue or interaction are considered irrelevant. This content will be shown less and less on the timelines of users.”
“If you are no longer visible on someone’s timeline, you will have to reach them in another way, for example through advertising. This is expensive and not a sustainable operation as you do not develop scalable content, where you constantly have to spend advertisement budget again and again. However, content can be used for all forms of information, in all phases of the relationship with your audience.
Consider for example the answering of queries: instead of constantly having to answer the same questions via direct message or by mail, you can also develop content and a process where the fans’ questions are answered directly and automatically. For example, via a chatbot, which is what Hardwell (see: chapter 30) does. This makes the information genuinely scalable, directly available for your fans and you save enormously on costs.”
3: Develop new revenue models
“If you see content as an integral part of the business model, it is possible to develop many new revenue models for it. The point of departure for this is having a clearly defined audience, or to develop one. Then you can introduce your revenue models, where your audience pays to use the content, for example via a subscription. Or you make other parties pay to communicate with your audience via e-mail, your social media, a webinar, etc.”
Schoonhoven believes the following is more urgent, however: many products are increasingly becoming commodities and easy to copy. “A crucial part of your distinctive features and value lies increasingly in the developed audience and the relationship that those people have with you. If very relevant content is shared, where you have a genuine impact on your audience, then a valuable relationship is developed with your audience.
If you only use content to sell a product or service, then you miss a huge opportunity to add value and gain an advantage over the competition. There is a large chance that your competitors will jump into that gap. Without relevant content and a valuable relationship with your audience you will lose out to the competition in the long term.”
Part of the Content Impact Model is your digital heartbeat. This is the rhythm with which you share content (at set times), on the channels that your audience expects to see it and (all being well) looks forward to it. This publication offers additional information about this.
In the current (digital) economy, companies increasingly depend on the relationships that they embark on with fans and clients. They develop these relationships by sharing content (and answering queries from clients or fans promptly). To survive in this new economy, a real digital vision is required, which allows you to work with the Business Acceleration Roadmap and Framework. The latter allows the organisation to grow in the digital domain. However, a digital vision begins with setting objectives to the digital transformation.
One of these objectives is improving the brand reputation. This is how to approach the marketing (and the most important milestones), that you must be able to summarise on a single sheet of A4 as a graphic overview. From this document it should be clear that the organisation’s communication has a rhythm. In addition, the subject of the content also affects this objective. In other words: the Content Impact Model helps you work on the brand reputation of your artist, organisation or brand. If you do not use the model, then the chance is great that you will not survive in the relationship economy.
Schoonhoven recommends using the Content Impact Model, because it forms the basis for the development of the Content Impact Strategy. “Here it is very clear which content is relevant for your audience and via which channels you can best distribute the content. Here it is important to bear in mind the ‘fan journey’ of your audience. With this I mean the various phases that someone goes through from the moment they do not know you yet, right through to the moment that they become a fan or ambassador of your company.”
“The phases of the fan journey are: awareness, create interest, consideration, decision, buying and experience. Each of these phases needs other content and different channels are used. For example, if you visit a festival (and are in the ‘experience’ phase), then it makes sense that in this phase you are willing to leave a review or share your own experiences via social media. You also show different search behaviour than someone who is still in the orientation stage. If you visited the festival in 2017 and had a fantastic time, the chance is great that you will return in 2018 — and will therefore look for the date of the same event in 2018. Someone who has not yet attended the party, will search for more and other information about the festival.”
Below you will find a brief example of the fan journey, elaborated as part of the Content Impact Model. This features the time (the step in the purchasing process) and the process (what do I do with which content) in a diagram in a clear way. You also see a diagram stating which form of content must be posted per week. As you see, more information flows become relevant when more time has passed.
Every organisation, brand or festival has a sales curve. It makes no sense to encourage people to purchase a ticket (or product) in week four (during the orientation phase), because they are still in the orientation process. The Content Impact Model is also a good indication of your sales curve, which helps you to make better use of marketing budgets.
When you have developed a Content Impact Strategy, you can commence with the Content Impact Roadmap. That is the translation of the strategy to the implementation — in a diagram in which you can see when you post which type of content on which channel. Here you can also see which content is relevant to publish. Consider here: news items, columns, photos, videos, music (demos and releases), podcasts and streaming (relevancy). This is the daily translation of your content ambitions (the Content Impact Model) and the reality (your digital heartbeat).
Measuring provides insight into the return of your content efforts. That is why a number of analyses have to take place. The most important analysis here is IPM. That is the number of interactions per thousand fans. The IPM formula is: ((Number of comments + likes) / number of posts)) / #fans) = IPM. This number shows how many interactions take place around your website or social channels. The higher your IPM, the more relevant your content probably is for your target audience.
Organisations, brands and artists who really want content to work for them must above all work in a proactive way with content. This means that they should not just share a message on their social media channels when they win an award. Establish a good Content Impact Roadmap in advance which offers a healthy rhythm. Also determine in advance what the IPMs of the different channels are. If you stick with these principles, then there is a great chance that you will succeed with content.
Determine how often (rhythm) you want to publish content (consistency) and maintain this (discipline). This is the real challenge: the combination of rhythm, consistency and discipline is often underestimated. If you take on this challenge — and succeed — you can ensure that content contributes to the growth of your business, ensures that your save costs and even creates new business models. Moreover, Schoonhoven’s warning is urgent: “If you are not able to develop a valuable digital relationship with your audience using relevant content, there is a great chance that you will lose out to your competitors.
- This post is a pre-read of Part 3 — Chapter 1of my new book ‘Digital Assets’ the translation of the Dutch publication ‘Digitaal Vermogen’.
- Also read the publication ‘EDM and the Digital Domain’