What have Nelson Mandela, Jim Morrison, Lord Alan Sugar and Mo Farah got in common? They have all exerted a great deal of influence on the modern world and regularly appear at the top of lists of people’s heroes. I, too, admire these four individuals, but my hero is John Spilsbury – the man credited with inventing the jigsaw. Not Black & Decker’s DIY tool, I mean that puzzle that sees a perfectly good picture cut into hundreds of interlocking pieces.
I am grateful to Spilsbury because the jigsaw is a perfect analogy for marketing. Just as when a single piece of a jigsaw puzzle is missing the picture created by the remaining pieces looks a bit odd because your eye is drawn to the missing piece, the same is true of marketing.
Only by piecing together every element of the many specialties that are covered by the marketing profession, from content marketing and PR campaigns to TV advertising and branding via SEO strategy and social media, is it possible to produce a big picture marketing strategy.
However, just as the rise of digital gaming poses a very real threat to the popularity of the jigsaw, the growing sophistication of marketing means it’s now no longer possible to find all the elements that make up a big picture marketing strategy in one box.
These developments have left my best jigsaw joke sounding as outdated as a one-stop shop for all things marketing.
Shout about our skills
A business can no longer afford to think of marketing as a single issue, which is why content marketing specialists need to shout about our expertise from the rooftops – and remind brands that although content marketing is just one element of their marketing repertoire, the groundwork carried out by a creative content agency makes other forms of marketing much easier to carry out.
In fact, Southerly recently went to a networking event and the one thing that became obvious is that not everyone is clear on what content marketing does, and its distinction from a PR campaign and advertising.
As a result, we gave a major online brand that wanted to move its content strategy from being a way to improve its SEO to a method of driving engagement the following advice:”With Google the way it is currently, SEO’s a natural byproduct of good content, so we want to focus on the quality. Ideally we’d like to rethink your blog strategy and come at it from a purely content marketing angle, targeting our business storytelling at your specific customer personas.”
M is for marathon
Step forward Mo Farah. Here at Southerly we have a saying: “Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.” So who better to be content marketing’s poster boy than the London 2012 double gold medal winner?
Mo not only holds World and Olympic titles at 5,000 and 10,000 metres, his athletic horizons have now extended to marathon running. Like our poster boy nomination, content marketing is also developing at such a pace that it should be considered as a discipline in its own right.
This is because while content marketing certainly remains a powerful business storytelling tool and tactic to promote engagement in a way that doesn’t shout ‘stop me and buy one’, this specialist branch of marketing’s ultimate goal is to build trust.
It took Mo many years of hard work to gain his place in British athletics’ hall of fame, but instead of resting on his laurels, gold medals and commemorative Post Box he’s started another chapter of the Mo Farah brand story – marathon running – that will probably take some time to get right and achieve the same success as he did on the track. But when he does, it will be the type of fantastic human story that content marketing was created to tell.
Content marketing, and specifically using it to gain trust in your brand, is not something that happens overnight. But when your engaging, useful and sharable content does eventually build a bond of unbreakable trust with your customers and influencers within your sector, all the other marketing elements will fall into place.
Trust me, I’m a content marketer…