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How do you define a content marketing agency? What do they have that other agencies don't? I'm thinking here of advertising agencies, digital agencies, social media agencies, mobile agencies - any agency that produces creative work on behalf of a client.
Of course, there's the multi-channel approach that most content marketing agencies can deliver, combining their own print and digital teams to offer their clients seamlessly integrated solutions (and a handy reduction in time spent at meetings). But what really sets them apart is their expertise in serialisation - building the relationship between brand and customer using expertly crafted content that keeps them coming back for more.
Serialisation is no new concept - TV soaps have kept entire generations hooked for years on their developing storylines and familiar characters (plus the odd murder or two), while shows such as Have I Got News For You? and Just A Minute have survived for decades thanks to a winning formula and skilful panellists. However, it's rare that advertising in any form follows the same long-distance strategy.
Content marketers know the value of serialisation and the advantages of talking to a customer over a long period of time. They gain the trust of the customer, giving them entertainment, ideas, inspiration, information and offers - usually for free - day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. And since this content is produced by expert journalists and designers, all experienced in communicating with the reader, the content has a vital ring of credibility and reliability.
In return for the hours spent planning, commissioning, creating and distributing, the reader gives the brand their most valuable commodity: their loyalty. This loyalty isn't given lightly; it's given following a long period of time spent having their trust built up, of getting to know the brand through its content marketing.
So just as you may look forward to settling down to watch Coronation Street or Eastenders, millions look forward to opening the latest issue of their favourite customer magazine or its digital version, knowing that they won't be disappointed with its content.