Why Choose Content Marketing?
Content marketing has moved from a niche brand offering to a marketing-must in a big way. It’s hard to think of a brand that doesn’t offer some kind of personalized content for its audience.
These days, people have unparalleled control over the ads that reach them. They can skip commercials, exit online ads, and skip YouTube pre-rolls after four (long, anguishing) seconds. Traditional advertising is now served up alongside the content that people are really trying to engage with – whether it be an article, Mad Men episode, or viral cat video. What’s different about content marketing is that it provides engaging and relevant content in and of itself.
That’s not to say that content marketing should stand alone. A brand can’t start a blog and end all other marketing and advertising efforts. More importantly, a brand can’t launch a blog without strategy. Content marketing should weave flawlessly into social media marketing and complement traditional advertising. It should match a brand’s personality, and be in-tune with its audience.
Good content marketing engages people and gives them something to come back for. Doing it well takes imagination, intuition, and strategy. And though every business should offer some form of content to their audience, they shouldn’t do it without strategic planning. It takes work and focus. But a successful effort can further brand awareness in an unprecedented way.
One success story we can speak to is Spark, a fashion and lifestyle blog we developed together with St. Vital Centre. Even though Spark was something we had envisioned for a while, it took years to come to fruition. There were marketing phases we had to undergo to ensure that there was an engaged audience ready to consume our content. We created a plan that was multifaceted, moving in stages from awareness and branding, to social media engagement, to content offering.
Early in our relationship with the Centre, we worked on increasing brand awareness with billboards, transit, and in-Centre signage. We spent time creating awareness of St. Vital Centre as an accessible and relatable lifestyle brand. Once awareness was achieved, we began to work on creating a more interactive and engaged brand, by building a social community and focusing on two-way advertising versus the traditional one-way. We created a social media presence for St. Vital Centre, and engaged audiences with contest microsites, quizzes, and frequent giveaways. We also began to elevate the fashion facet of the brand, producing unique style and beauty content for social media and seasonal campaigns. The high audience engagement and overwhelmingly positive response confirmed both the desire for this type of content, and its ability to affect sales.
For us, a blog was a natural fit for St. Vital Centre. Their brand is stylish and fun, aspirational but attainable, in-the-know without being a know-it-all – the perfect voice for a fashion and lifestyle blog. There was a void of high quality fashion blogs in Winnipeg, and we saw a perfect opportunity to fill that void.
Spark has been producing content for just over a year now, and together with our client and a talented support team, we continue to produce content that excites us as much as it informs and delights our audience. Developing good content is no easy task, and involves ongoing planning and post writing, coordinating and directing regular photoshoots (including booking models, photographers, and videographers), website maintenance, and more. Aside from content development, we are also in charge of bringing traffic to the blog. We achieve this through social media, contests, email subscriptions, in-Centre hoarding and backlit posters, and even in-store, on our “As Seen On Spark” product tags and stickers. Spark averages over 4,000 hits per month, and is steadily increasing.
And most importantly, the Centre has continued to report ongoing sales increases in key categories since the blog's inception.
A Source of Inspiration
Inspiration for your next great idea can come from anywhere (and hopefully not straight from advertising and graphic design annuals and websites).
One of my favorite resources is garbage in the streets (I’m serious). I see shapely and shiny things on the ground all of the time and can’t help but pay my respects by picking them up and putting them in my pocket.
The best picks usually find a home somewhere within reach of my computer and I’m always optimistic that their humble graphic beauty will be able to help me out in some way on some future Fusion project.
I’m convinced the shapes in the sardine can key, blue thing with the tail and other elements in the photo subliminally migrated to the logos you see here.
And if Batman calls one day to do a new visual identity or rebrand I’ve already got one source of inspiration on the shelf in the form of that piece of found blue felt. It could turn into a kick ass logo or campaign graphic.
Popup or Popart?
Last Friday was a beautiful day, and when I received an invitation to view a Kal Barteski pop up, my first response was “SURE”, then it was “what is a Kal Barteski popup? A new restaurant?” A quick Google search later and I was hooked! I’ve always loved to paint myself, but to actually see someone from Winnipeg make it as an illustrator is so inspiring. Plus, it was really neat to see the artist in action as she created on the spot requests from customers.
A fun time was had by all, and we walked away more inspired and with a few fridge magnets, postcards, gift tags and small poster prints to beautify our space.
If you’re interested in seeing more of what Kal is up to, you can find her at lovelife.typepad.com.
Hi Fusion, I’m Margaret.
This post is brought to you by Creative Communications graduate Margaret Howison, whom we've had the pleasure of hosting as an intern here for the past three weeks. Margaret fit in so well at Fusion that it's going to be hard to see her go! Best of luck, Margaret – I hope we see you at Fusion again someday.
It’s going to sound a bit like a movie cliché, but my interest in advertising started one day in class when an instructor made some motivational comment, something to the effect of “advertising can be used for the good or for the bad,” read: with great power comes great responsibility. Maybe that seems obvious, but having come into my very first (mandatory) ad class with a pretty narrow, and even skeptical understanding of the trade, I found the idea revolutionary.
A few terrible radio spots and print ads, a couple of internal struggles, and a handful of breakthroughs later, I found myself graduating from Creative Communications with a major in advertising — and later walking into an ad agency (Fusion) for the first time for a three-week internship.
When I was asked to write about my experiences at Fusion for the company’s blog, I couldn’t help but take the opportunity to hash out some of my preconceived notions about ad agencies.
Revelation 1: Not everyone who works in ad agencies likes Mad Men. Okay, most of them do, but I counted two at Fusion that don’t. Sometimes when I tell people I’m in advertising, they say “just like Mad Men,” and I say “yep,” without really knowing what they are talking about. I’m almost afraid that if I say I haven’t gotten into it yet, they’ll think I’m not a true ad girl. I’m not saying I’ll never watch it — I’m just happy to know it’s not a pre-requisite.
Revelation 2: Some agencies are so much about that workplace culture. Yes to an ongoing intra-office Wii bowling competition. Yes to monthly potlucks and beer-at-four Fridays. Yes to a game of darts to stimulate creativity. Yes to dogs — so many little dogs — walking around the office.
Revelation 3: Ad agencies are not scary places. Dispelling my fears that I’d be entering a workplace with a whirlwind of a pace, when I walked into Fusion, I felt an almost immediate urge to walk slower and breathe deeper.
It’s a place where white walls are canvasses for big ideas, daily schedules, and bowling scores. Little office cubes are spread over a sprawling rectangular interior like mouse houses. Chattering never travels quite so far as the sounds of footsteps clicking across the wooden floors. It’s the kind of place where the bathroom smells better than bathrooms should. And the lounge — fit with a pool table, dartboard, and huge flat screen TV — is enough to make my inner teenager ecstatic.
Revelation 4: Some agencies let their intern in on a lot. Three weeks isn’t a long time to get into a new work rhythm. There are learning curves and new procedures, and people who are really fast at what they do. While I could have been doing coffee and Bronut runs, or shelf dusting or paper clip counting or anything else that didn’t require the slow down and walk-through from someone else — I wasn’t. Since I’ve been here I have attended client conferences, crisis management meetings, photo shoots, and briefings; I’ve written case studies, samples, headlines, tweets, and blogs; I’ve participated in brainstorms, worked on social media strategies, and walked around the office deciding what to Instagram (staff pickle jar?). I was even given an opportunity to project manage a logo design and was almost elated to see the three beautiful designs that were introduced at the logo presentation.
It’s been a rewarding experience and a great introduction into a thoughtful, creative industry. If I were to give my work placement experience a brand personality, I would call it fun, enlightening, and refreshing.