10 award-winning content lessons

This year's International Content Marketing Awards was a shining display of the  very best the content marketing industry has to offer. Within the 28 winning entries, there's a vast amount of lessons to be learnt about planning, developing, creating and distributing content. Here are just ten.

1. Understand your customer
If you really know your customers, there's no limit to the relevant, engaging and fantastically effective content you can create and deliver. Segmentation and personalisation are getting more and more simple using digital printing and online targeting, so make the most of your data and give your customers the most appropriate and useful content you can.

Best in class: Little Ones Baby and Toddler Club, Sainsbury's, Seven

2. Change customer perceptions
There's nothing more off-putting to a potential customer than receiving content that's exactly what they predicted. Even the most conservative of consumers want to be surprised and intrigued by content that they have invested time and attention in, so use a different angle or take an unexpected direction in covering an issue or topic. The only memorable content is the content no one's seen yet.

Best in class: The Review, Gemalto, Wardour

3. Know your brand
Many of this year's winners demonstrated an almost bottomless knowledge of their client's brand, retaining their values and culture while taking their customers on a unique and inspirational journey. Producing thrilling content is one thing; producing thrilling content while making sure the customer always knows they are firmly in the brand's territory is quite another. Ensure you have a deep and up-to-date knowledge of your brand and your content will be authentic and fantastically effective.

Best in class: Zoom-Zoom, Mazda, Redwood

4. Roll your sleeves up
All award winners have the same thing in common: a huge amount of thought, planning and hard graft has gone into them. Loyal customers need to know that you value their custom, and if you're going to retain their respect, they need to know that you're prepared to invest in their content. Every communication has to look like it's created by the industry's top talent - day after day, week after week, month after month.

Best in class: Your M&S, M&S, Redwood

5. Give them what they want
It's fast becoming a cliché that consumers demand content whenever and wherever they want. But it's now second nature to expect every piece of content to be available on every major media platform - as well as a few minor ones. But it's not enough to chop up print features for the online version, then chop further for social media. You have to create bespoke content specific to each platform so that the brand experience remains the same wherever you go.

Best in class: economia magazine, The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (ICAEW), Progressive Customer Publishing

6. Use your brand's stories
To feel any kind of affinity with a brand, you have to know its character and background - when was it formed, why was it formed, how did the products develop, who uses them? These questions are best answered by stories, giving your brand both depth and personality, and making it more accessible to new customers. Every brand has a story; it's just a question of teasing it out.

Best in class: Fender Magazine, Fender, FuturePlus

7. Make your staff proud
For international companies and organisations, print and online content are often the best way to reach your staff and get across key messages. But while content is no doubt vital in communicating business updates, they are also important in fostering pride in your organisation and a willingness to go the extra mile when dealing with customers. Offer your staff with the same high level of content as your customers and you'll reap the rewards of a happy workplace.

Best in class: Inside Track, British Airways, Wardour

8. The power of print
Yes, print may be the older and more traditional cousin of digital, but it still retains many attractive features for brands wanting to get across deeper and more subtle messages. Print is still the best place to consume longer pieces of content, lengthy or more complex features the reader can lose themselves in, while online struggles with giving the reader a sense of luxury or glamour. And when providing a light, portable and unbreakable source of inspiration, there's nothing to beat it.

Best in class: Goodwood Revival programme, Goodwood Road Racing Club, Northstar

9. Get creative with social media
Social media offers unlimited opportunities to connect directly with your customers, but don't limit your brand's presence to product messages, offers or customer service. Encourage your agency to be creative and see the engagement rates shoot up. Games, stories, polls - anything that starts a conversation or interaction can get your brand talked about, as long as it's fresh, unique and innovative.

Best in class: Choose Your Own Twitter Adventure, O2, The Writer

10. Treat your ambassadors well
Your brand ambassadors are your heroes, the people who can make or break your brand with the stroke of a key or tap of the thumb. So treat them well and give them top-quality content to make them feel special. These ambassadors have a huge amount of clout with your customers, especially for premium brands, and keeping them supplied with regular exclusive content will keep you firmly in their good books.

Best in class: The Reserve Club, Diageo, Tullo Marshall Warren

Posted in
4thDec 2012

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