Creating content can be paralyzing for most brands or businesses. Most marketing managers don’t know where to start or how to create content efficiently on a small budget. However, *quality* content is still the foundation of all marketing activities. It has been since Tide ran TV spots, radio ads, and newspaper advertisements in the 1950s. It still is today.
With the explosion of digital marketing, it can feel very overwhelming to create content for all the different channels that exist. Now your teams are resizing images for emails, blogs, Facebook ads, Instagram ads, Snapchat, Pinterest, banner ads…you get the picture. While the world has become more complicated with digital, the gift of personalization, better targeting, and proprietary audience building is something that TV and print never gave us.
I’ve lived through this content struggle, and at times I’ve felt paralyzed. I’m going to cover some strategies to demystify content creation and give you and your teams some concrete tips on how to start becoming a “maker” and a “doer” instead of a “planner” and an “outsourcer.”
Quality content that resonates with your target audience is the foundation of your marketing model. Without it, your brand doesn’t exist.
First, you need quality content to acquire a new customer. This content needs to STOP, HOLD, and CLOSE them.
Second, brilliant content is needed to retain your newly acquired customer by getting them to repeat once (and hopefully many more times). Everything from your first thank you email to your unboxing experience (for eComm) to your personalized email CRM program needs to be carefully curated.
You might say; “But my Agency is too slow and charges too much, or I don’t have enough people to create content.” These are all excuses that you can overcome with the right mindset.
Let’s dig into the “My Agency is too slow and expensive” issue.
In the early days of confounding the Zevo Brand at P&G, we were initially required to work with a prominent New York Agency due to existing contracts that were in place. This large agency had won Canne Lions and was even an “Ad Week Agency of The Year.” With all these accolades, they should have been an excellent partner to launch a new digitally native brand.
We needed to run some quick tests to validate the Zevo proposition with consumers. To do this, we spun up a landing page (I love Instapage and Unbounce), and we needed to create Facebook motion graphic ads to generate interest in the proposition and drive potential customers to the landing page. This scope sounds simple right? Especially since we have the Ad Age Agency of the Year on our roster! I couldn’t have been more naive. Four weeks and $10K later, we had two Facebook ads that didn’t follow the proper size dimensions, and the ads were so erratic they were hard to follow. I found myself educating this New York Agency on how to make a social ad. Lesson learned. 🤦
We had just burned four weeks, $10K, and we still lacked the content to validate our proposition with early consumers. So what did we do about it? We took matters into our own hands.
First, I got with my amazing graphic design team member, and we rented high-quality camera gear. Then I quickly reached out to someone I knew with an aspirational and modern home. We shot photos and videos there for an afternoon for a total cost of $150 and our time.
Second, I wrote a recommendation to our GM/VP to part ways with our “award-winning” Agency from the Big Apple. I then started looking for lower-cost regional players who understood how to create content for performance marketing campaigns quickly and cheaply. I was fortunate to have found MMI Agency (I’m happy to make an intro). In the time it took to create two bad ads with my old Agency, we partnered with MMI to run over 200+ Facebook A/B test ad variations with ten pieces of creative.
Let’s dig into the “I don’t have enough people to create content” excuse.
I’ve since left my Big Co days, and I’m working as the VP of Digital Marketing and eCommerce at Pure Romance, a direct sales company. One of the things that drew me to Pure Romance was the talented internal team of copywriters, designers, and get sh*t done, executors. We create all our content in-house (very inexpensively).
There is an adage that “no one cares as much as you do about your Brand.” By creating content in-house, we can run “Lean” tests in days and weeks, not months and quarters. We also know the content will be something that makes us proud.
The thing I love about our team is that when content doesn’t exist, they go and create it. Our social and eComm teams often buy props at Target, Michael’s, and Joanne Fabrics. Then they go into our office gym (which has fantastic natural light) and they shoot their content on a high-quality camera or their iPhones. They can knock out a month or two of quality content in a few hours.
Check out the video our social media team created for our consultants to help them make quality content of their own.A video tutorial on how to create your own content
To sum it all up:
- Quality* brand content is the foundation of every single acquisition and retention strategy. Without great content, you won’t be able to STOP, HOLD, CLOSE new customers and RETAIN existing ones.
- You might not have the right agency partner for today’s complex digital environment. Some agencies haven’t adapted, and they are still built for the TV and Print age. They have high overhead and don’t fully understand digital performance marketing. If your agency can’t deliver content quickly and cost-effectively, it’s time to look for a digitally native partner who can.
- Roll up your sleeves and create your own content. Spend one day or one afternoon a month on it. You’ll be amazed at the results. Find ways to stage photo shoots on your own, hire an in-house designer, and try writing your own copy. If you are just starting, you can use services like Fiverr and use online design software like Canva (if you don’t have photoshop skills).