My team at Masthead Media attended another action-packed Advertising Week New York this year. As we strive to do at every conference we attend, we gathered industry knowledge across multiple verticals, from content (our specialty), to marketing, technology, and much more.
We were also fortunate enough to have the opportunity to present our own panel about the "Future of Content Marketing."
Our panelists were among some of the top women in content marketing, including winners, honorees, and judges of the inaugural Women in Content Marketing Awards. They shared their insights on so many facets of the content marketing space, from measurement and KPI development, to the future of the content marketing team.
One of the most interesting topics they covered was which strategies and trends to watch for in 2020. What needs to be top of mind for content marketers as they're planning next year's campaigns? While consistency and relevancy are always key, here's what our panelists revealed about their own upcoming initiatives and the lessons that other marketers can take away from them.
Make a Play for Print
Depending on your company's goals for its marketing efforts in 2020, a print publication may be a key ingredient in your recipe for success. For long-form storytelling (especially if your brand is in the travel space), a magazine can provide an escape for audiences, and really capture their attention in a refreshing way.
According to Candice Jones, Brand Content Lead at Amtrak, the Amtrak magazine The National helps drive conversations about train travel with their audience, and is a perfect outlet for the type of storytelling that ties to Amtrak's routes. "You can discover places that you may have been before, but you're kind of rediscovering them," she said. "It's a way that we use to message to our consumer in a deeper, more organic way, and inspire more travel in terms of them thinking about their next adventure."
"I think what we're all trying to do is replicate what we feel in our gut, the human condition," said Jamie Luke, Director of Content at The Foundry @ Meredith. "You know when you read a great story. That gut 'thing' is what every brand is looking for."
Stephanie Stahl, General Manager at The Content Marketing Institute, encouraged brands to stay in tune with their audience's preferences. "It's meeting your audience where they want to hang out with you," she said, citing the AARP magazine as an ideal place to publish content for that brand's audience. "There's a direct correlation with how an audience wants to interact with a brand and the success of that distribution model."
Create Memorable Experiences
Brands are increasingly turning to experiential marketing to deliver memorable moments for their audiences. Global Head of Twitter Arthouse Stacy Minero and her team are leading many of Twitter's exciting branded content efforts. She pointed to Bud Light's recent "Dive Bar Tour," which allowed fans to connect with major musicians via a live stream of their performances in intimate concert venues.
"There's the original IP that a brand can create, and the syndication of experiences that are already happening. There's so much potential there, and we're just scratching the surface," Minero said. She anticipates continued brand investment in experiences through music or sports sponsorships.
With the help of technology, these kinds of marketing efforts can broaden the reach of an event and drive more engagement around it. "You can create an event that brings electricity to the timeline and invites people to join the conversation. This can be a concert or fashion show, a conference keynote, or even a new product launch. In the past year we've live-streamed over 120 events with brand partners and discover new uses every day," Minero said.
Consider Integration Over Creation
"You really have to think about context when you're thinking about audio," Luke said. "It's not just a box to check, and if you're just looking at audio tactics, you're not taking context into consideration."
Minero offered some advice to brands: "Unless you have a strong programming strategy, I would recommend integrating into an already popular podcast vs. creating your own," she said "Adding that it's tough to build an audience from scratch given the number of platforms competing for attention."
"I think brands sometimes experience FOMO, like they have to be everywhere at once. But really, you don't," said Jones. "You just have to focus on the channels that you know will resonate with your audience."
"Trying to conquer all channels at once is an exercise in frustration and fatigue," said Stahl. "It's important to master one or two channels before experimenting with others."
While identifying those channels can take some experimentation and iteration, it's time well spent. When we as marketers understand our audience's interests and the best way to build a truly authentic connection with them, we can take those learnings into 2020 and beyond.