It was while walking in downtown New York, on Broadway, prior to the kick off of the UKTI Digital Mission and Social Media Week in the Big Apple, that it struck me what a global village we now live in. I was having a wee look round the shops (it’s rude not to here). When I first starting visiting the city more than a decade ago, the odd chain store that we had in the UK would pop up but not many. Now, every other store is something you could find on most British high streets – Zara, H&M and Uniqlo, to name just a few. You have to duck off into the side streets of Greenwich Village to find the one-off boutiques and thrift stores.
I’m currently in New York to represent Southerly on a UK Government-endorsed Digital Mission – the UKTI wants to assist promising UK companies to expand into the US. The trip coincides with New York’s Social Media Week, where the great and the good of the digital industries converge to hear the latest thinking from social media and digital experts.
My idle musings on the state of New York retail yesterday turned into a bit of a bigger thought. In the run up to my trip here, I’d met with our representatives from the UKTI and the wonderful co-host agency Chinwag, to fine tune what our ‘pitch’ was going to be here once we started meeting US firms. What did we have to offer to a potential US client? New York has its own agencies, so why would one of them partner with us to help their client or a US client come straight to us?
I realised it would be for the same reason that I steered clear of H&M and went to Bloomingdales instead – I wanted something authentic to where I was. And while a NY firm would have the expertise to create good content, if a US client wanted to expand into the UK or more widely in the EU, would a NY firm know how to be ‘authentic’ there? The start of any good content marketing strategy is knowing who your audience is, and at Southerly we spend a goodly amount of time with our clients working out what their customer personas are so we can target content accordingly. I went to two of the keynote sessions at Social Media Week yesterday – one of which was an interview with Jonah Peretti, the founder of the enormously successful social news and entertainment site Buzzfeed. Peretti revealed that when Buzzfeed launched in the UK, his new English editor Luke Lewis sat him down to explain to him that they couldn’t just duplicate content, there had to be unique content for the UK audience as the humour was different (‘superior’ was mentioned) to that in the US. Peretti also mooted the possibility that Buzzfeed may one day launch a site for Germany – and the humour is most certainly different over there…
The Content Marketing Revolution
The other keynote session was equally as interesting – The Content Marketing Revolution. Although in my opinion not all of what the various speakers, all of them knowledgeable, had to tell us was that revolutionary. Hosted by the US content marketing platform agency Percolate, the company’s co-founder Noah Brier shared the firm’s basis for content creation – the seven building blocks that need to be in place, which were:
- Audience – what drives your target audience?
- Trigger – the idea that guides what the content is about
- Brand – it’s not branded content if it doesn’t adhere to a client’s brand identity
- Topic/category/or pillar – the topic areas content sits in
- Campaign event – the planned events that allow you to plan content around them
- Business objective – what are the goals and KPIs behind the content?
- Platforms – where the content lives and what’s unique about each one (and how you tailor content accordingly)
At Southerly we’ve already got this list locked down. We know that our strategic relationship with our clients starts with a lot of work around what they brand is about, what their customer personas are, what their business goals are – and only once all those things are in place do we think about a content calendar for the platforms the client wants to use.
I’m sure I’ve got an awful lot to learn from the rest of my Digital Mission here and Social Media Week (indeed, watch out for further updates) but in that session, for that moment at least, I felt that our firm was on a par with the boys in New York. Us London agencies know our stuff. And when you think about it like that, and take into account that we probably are funnier, a London-based content agency could most definitely give a US partner an edge in a new market.