Is “content marketing” redundant?

Marketing, Strategy Comments Off on Is “content marketing” redundant?

Content marketing is hot. But remember when marketing wasn’t all about the content? We don’t either. The familiar red and white Betty Crocker Recipe book in so many American kitchens is an iconic reminder that what we call “content marketing” today is marketing, and always has been. It’s about taking a brand’s value to a specific audience segment, with unique focus and appeal because of the particular connection the audience has to the product or brand, and vice versa. To now categorize that function as a sub-specialty of marketing seems counterproductive. It’s easy to get tangled up in the expanding marketing lexicon to the point of confusion about what is important.

A television spot designed to sell a particular can of beans off the grocery store shelf, for example, is retail brand advertising. The content of that commercial is critical, every second – even if it’s imaginary or conceptual. The content (tone, attitude, visual approach) will likely share a thread of consistency (be integrated with) other marketing content such as the point-of-sale display in-store or coupons circulating for cents-off on the 16 oz. bean can. Explaining to campers why beans are a convenient and nourishing food when camping – that’s classic content marketing. Publishing tips (today, a white paper) on how to prepare beans over a campfire, that’s content marketing. Get it covered on a national talk show and you have national network publicity – which has always been great content marketing, especially if they taste a spoonful and appear pleased. Stage a contest for bean lovers and that’s content marketing with an event/experiential angle – and is nothing new. Posting on social media, “nothing better than #bakedbeans around the #campfire, especially this recipe…!” is content marketing via social media. Delivering valuable content via social media adds value to the medium as much as it does to the authoring source of the information. No wonder it seems that social media has given birth to content marketing – it plays a major role and is a direct beneficiary. Although what we now call content marketing existed well before social media, the new media are indeed opening significant new routes and methods for appealing to the interests of customers. The opportunity to foster communities of like-minded people who share connection to a given subject, product or pastime offers marketing opportunity, perhaps more than ever before. Yes, it’s a great time for content marketing… and for marketing.

In content marketing (i.e., marketing), substance, quality and timeliness are keys. As the opportunity expands so do the perceived importance and value of virtually free content marketing, and the bandwagon is rapidly filling up with specialists. But what matters is what has always mattered – that the content (your marketing) offer appreciable value in its essential worth or in the manner in which it is delivered or executed that brings advice, enlightenment, joy, reassurance or some other benefit to the recipient. The semantics and hyper-specialization (fragmentation) of our industry should not cloud the truth. Content is marketing. Marketing is content. “Content marketing” is redundant. Better content is better marketing.

This link from offers more perspective on this topic and great examples:

Good Work. Great Work. Does It Even Matter?

Creative, Marketing, Strategy Comments Off on Good Work. Great Work. Does It Even Matter?

If pursuit of a great craft beer or gourmet burger is so widely respected today, why does pursuit of well-crafted advertising work seem so passe, even among many within the marketing industry? Good work says the right thing well. Great work says the right thing much better. It adds value to its subject. It strikes a chord that sets the communication and its product apart from, and above, its competition. It’s worth more. Should marketers strive to communicate through “great work?”. Here’s why.

The marketing function and its output are evolving with technology, as they always have. Some insist it’s not even about ideas and so-called “great work” anymore. Anyone with something to say via social media immediacy can be part of the marketing pop-culture and comment of the moment. Is it great work? One can shoot and post a timely photo. Is that great work? If it adds substance, focus or momentum to what originated as a great customer insight or creative idea – yes, it too could be great. Social media is inherently a derivative mode of communication via commentary on or sharing of something primary. Certainly, well-executed social media campaigns are adding measureable impact. But it doesn’t replace original thinking and the expression of a product, point or position worth commenting on or sharing – like the greatest gourmet burger on earth, or the tastiest IPA ever.

So look for the great original work out there. It’s the advertising you notice working harder and hitting deeper because it’s grounded in truth and fueled by a real idea, genuine effort and high standards. It’s the B2B that doesn’t feel like B2B, because it’s talking to people, not their titles. It’s the work that’s just right for its purpose, even if that’s not of grand significance or visibility – it fulfills its role well. There is no formula and no guarantee. Even the most accomplished talents in advertising know great work is difficult, elusive and may never happen for them again. They know budget is a factor, but not the biggest factor; that not every piece of great work will win an award, or even be considered. And they know what those of us out here trying every day should not forget: there is a difference, and it does matter. And it’s still worth going for “great work” over good work any day, and every day.

Video Basics for an Advanced Camera World

Marketing Comments Off on Video Basics for an Advanced Camera World

As digital video technology advances farther and into the hands of novice videographers, and many capable ones, it’s important to recall certain “rudiments” of production effectiveness. Cincinnati video production in support of advertising, marketing and social networking is not exactly Hollywood, yet there should be some similarities.

Our beliefs, experience and street-level perspective:

Tell your story.
The greatest opportunity with video is that it allows one to make their point more memorably. Having a point, therefore, is advised. More on this below.

Go for quality.
Video capability is more available and automated than ever, but don’t expect it to be all that simple. Some believe that the Internet viewing experience and the pervasiveness of video have lowered viewing audience expectations. If lower production values are now more common, we say this is an opportunity to stand out on the basis of your video’s high quality. Why utilize advancing video technology just to fit a lower standard? Fast, convenient quality is possible. Put it to work for your message and audience. People will notice.

Plan the shoot. Shoot the plan.
There is a grab-and-go benefit to today’s smaller, less restrictive cameras and video technology. That’s great, and sometimes beneficial, but it’s best to begin with a story in mind and a list of specific shots that will ensure that the story needed in the video will be told. The classic discipline of “storyboarding,” whether as a detailed shot description or shot list, is still needed. (Warning: odd analogy ahead) It’s kind of like grocery shopping (told you), buying what you need for the situation or meals you want to prepare vs. filling the cart with things that might seem appealing or eye catching at the time.

Light properly.
The emerging camera of choice right now (and this could change tomorrow), the digital single-lens reflex (DSLR), is impressively adaptable and user-friendly, with a result often described as “filmic.” While that term might cause seasoned film professionals to scoff, DSLRs do offer some camera artistry related to depth-of-field focusing capability and shot diversity through easy interchangeability of different lenses. That said, visual quality is largely dependent on having the right lighting for whatever camera is being used. So we believe in spending the necessary time and effort on lighting. Often it involves scheduling shoots for best use of available sunlight at a given location. Other times it means bringing in the proper lighting equipment and allowing time to set it for optimal effect. The result is obvious, and well worth the effort.

Get the audio right.
Whether recording ambient location sound or the voice of an on-camera spokesperson, audio is half of your video. It deserves due consideration up front and throughout the production. Most digital cameras have built-in microphones and can be effective in supporting an informal one-on-one interview. Most other situations, such as a more formal on-camera interview, dialogue or situation, will require at least one additional microphone and an audio technician to ensure proper sound recording, levels, picture sync and more. The audio tech is also able, and usually willing, to help carry the aforementioned lighting equipment.

Work the edit.
One can imagine the “look” of a video prior to the shoot, the progression of the message, the order of things, maybe even the sound and type of music needed. Even the editing “style” can be predetermined. But the edit itself, the complex assembly of the whole from a long list of video and audio clips, is a process of discovery and refinement. While editing can be a well-organized and efficient process, it shouldn’t be rushed. This is where all of the elements of the production come together, often in ways that could not be predicted. Our opinion and approach is to allow the editing process freedom to create impact, interest and, in the end, a video people enjoy watching. It is the reward for all of the planning, care and work — now evident in a well-produced video.

While perhaps exhausting, this blog post is not intended as an exhaustive discussion of video production. We didn’t even touch on talent selection, shot composition or what to wear to the shoot. Hopefully, the points offered about the “basics” of video production will help to make your next project more effective and your results more admirable.

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