If there was one thing we learned at the inaugural #ThinkContent breakfast in Auckland last week, it’s that New Zealand marketers are hungry for success, even if local marketing teams don’t have the luxury of huge budgets (a few people choked on their croissants when one of our panelists, Zara Curtis, Director of Content for IAG in Australia said she had 35 people in her team.)
Leaner teams and leaner budgets mean that content has to work harder – it has to be both engaging to the audience and it must drive business results. There’s no room for content for content’s sake. So it’s fitting that getting results was the theme of the Storyation-NewsCred breakfast panel, which included Curtis, as well as the ASB Bank GM of Marketing, Shane Evans, and the Les Mills International Director of Content and Communications, Finlay Macdonald.
Here are the top three takeaways from the morning’s inspiring panel.
Don’t add to the deluge
Shane Evans said that ASB had adopted a “less is more” approach because he believed marketers were responsible for putting out “a lot of crap content” without enough focus on business results. “Because content is cheap and easy and quite straightforward to create, we’ve just got an explosion of content. And as marketers, we see the creation of that content as our success rather than whether it’s driving a business or brand outcome. As a group of marketers, we need to take greater responsibility to ensure that whatever we’re putting out there for the public to consume is actually the best it possibly can be. And if it’s not, then we shouldn’t do it just because it’s cheap or available.”
Finlay Macdonald, who is one of New Zealand’s most well-known journalists and the lead of Les Mills International’s content marketing, said that while content was a broad church, ultimately it had to add value. “The way I talk about [content] is the way I’ve always talked about it in the media in journalism and in the industry as a publisher. It’s information that’s useful to the audience that you’re pushing it out to. So I try to keep it simple and easy and efficient…”
Macdonald said the global B2B fitness company — that has programs used in 10,000 gyms and clubs in 100 countries — had ambitions to grow as a consumer brand, and “brand-agnostic” content was a big part of that. “We want to become as trusted as a health, fitness, and wellness content provider as we are as a producer of amazing exercise programs,” he said. “So, the last thing we want to do is just stick our logo on every piece of content and try and sell an exercise class.”
Don’t take things too literally
Zara Curtis, who has grown her team at IAG in Australia from two to 35 since joining the insurer 14 months ago, said that brands needed to be less literal about content in order to create great pieces that will stand out. For example, for NRMA Insurance, Curtis tasked Storyation with creating stories about Australians helping Australians because that’s what NRMA stands for as a brand.
“I realized pretty quickly coming from the wonderful land of TV production to an insurance company that not many people care about insurance as a daily conversation… so I had to find a new way to connect. We had to go beyond insurance, so we told stories of people helping people in Australia and doing something that’s, you know, much higher up the marketing funnel. Rather than going right to the basics of ‘Let’s tell people how helpful we are as insurers,’ let’s not even have that conversation. Let’s just have people understand our purpose.”
That approach pushed NRMA from 11th to 1st for social share of voice – leading not just the insurance category, but also banking and finance. “If you have content in your title or marketing in your title, you’ve got to think harder about joining those dots with content and thinking quite abstractly through that as a problem. If my brand stands for help, then how does that turn up in different types of content? And the answer isn’t always an article or a Facebook post,” Curtis said.
Don’t try to do it all yourself
Shane Evans said he believed that ASB’s marketing team needed to own the strategy for content, but not necessarily the execution. Instead, they rely on agency and media partners. “In my mind, headcount is a real asset you have in your business and so I think quite carefully around what headcount I want to use for what purpose — and if I can outsource it at the same cost, then I’ll outsource it.”
Curtis agreed, saying that since joining IAG in Australia 14 months ago and building its content team from the ground up, she had deliberately created an “in-house, out-house” model. “I don’t believe you can do it all in-house on your own. I don’t think that works. You definitely need speed and you need certain capabilities.”
This article was originally published by our strategic partner, Storyation, and has since been edited for Insights.