Content Marketing – Managing Brands in an Interconnected Planet

September 17, 2018

Tara R. Marsh, director of content marketing, Wuderman, WPP, gave an interactive talk on the content marketing landscape. The audience learned about the changing relationships between brands, agencies, and publishers as well as the importance of delivering value to audiences if you wish to earn their time, attention, and business.

By Daniel de la Rosa

In a highly wired world, one of the things people have to contend with is an overflow of information.

Social media has invaded practically every moment of our lives, and it comes through our smartphones and computers like an irresistible tsunami.

“(We) have more information out there than we have the time to process,” said Tara R. Marsh in a seminar at the Knowledge Series of the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business in New York City.

The Knowledge Series events provide an opportunity to learn from the world’s brightest minds who focus on topics and trends in the business world. They serve CKGSB’s mission to cultivate business leaders with a global vision, a strong sense of social responsibility and an innovative mindset.

Marsh is the Global Head of Content for Wunderman, a worldwide digital agency with 200 offices in 70 markets and a headquarters located in the media capital of New York City. Wunderman is part of the Young & Rubicam Brands and a member of the WPP Group, the UK-based advertising and public relations conglomerate.

She said people are “filtering” the information they get to make their own decisions. “It is the most fundamental” thing to understand in marketing, the Wunderman executive added at the start of her lecture.

Content then is the link between the brand’s heart and audience needs and interests. Put another way, you have to find the common ground between what the audience wants and what you want in pitching your brand to them.

“To win the time and attention of your audience, your content must provide value. People want and expect experiences and content that helps them understand their options, express their thoughts and feelings, and relate to others who are going through similar circumstances,” Marsh said in her presentation.

This idea of providing value for consumers will of course look differently for different brands.

The content of something like the energy drink Red Bull, which is high in entertainment, is different from say, Whole Foods, the grocer acquired by whose content would be pitched more to utility and information, she pointed out.

The content landscape is also changing, understandable given the dizzying pace of technological change.

Marsh listed them down some of the things that have moved to the forefront in her presentation to the Cheung Kong forum participants.

They are:

  • “Content Marketing” has moved beyond buzzword to a real brand need,
  • Three of the top five content marketing challenges, for both B2C and B2B, relate to content production,
  • Brands need “cheap and quick” as much as they need “high production value”,
  • Some brands are building internal content teams,
  • Video is now a primary means for communication,
  • Brands are looking for more rigor in proving ROI of content marketing, and
  • New commercial models are evolving (e.g. deliverables-based pricing, bundling of production and distribution.

“We swim in a sea of data and the sea level is rising rapidly,” her presentation said.

A good example for all of things that are now dominant that she pointed to is the hit TV show “House of Cards” where Netflix made 10 different cuts of the trailer with each geared toward different audiences. The trailer you saw was based on your previous viewing behavior, according to the KISSMetrics Blog.

In her job at Wunderman, Marsh helps client teams navigate the complex world of content marketing technology and partner landscape while bringing creativity and strategic direction to the endeavor.

Her career has spanned a range of disciplines, including brandings, media buying and PR, with leadership roles at Landor, MEC and Ogilvy PR, respectively.

Before joining WPP, Marsh spent 5 years as a consultant at Bain & Company. A dual British/American citizen, she holds an MA in economics from Oxford University and an MBA from INSEAD in France.

Marsh said there “is so much competition for attention” it is imperative for individuals and companies to provide value and all the while keeping firmly in mind that cultural context matters very much when a brand is presented to its audience.

There will be a need to develop a social content strategy going forward, which will check off the list on thing such as entertainment and motivating people to do something, along with informing, educating and inspiring them as well.

“If you want to actually win the attention of your audience and you think what’s valuable and what will capture their attention, you’re not entirely competing with other brands,” Marsh said.

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