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Marketing: Why 'Always On' doesn't cut it any more

13th Jan 2017
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In our previous articles we've discussed (i) how the user has been left out of the brand communications discussion and (ii) that brands are moving towards a more regularly released schedule of editorial content in an effort to re-engage those forgotten users.

In this article we discuss that, in so doing, brands need to avoid repeating the mistakes of old and move from a push to a pull strategy.

TL:DR (Too Long: Didn't Read)

Users are drowning in a sea of branded messaging that is impossible to keep up with.

Brands must move away from an 'Always On', brand-first, pushed messaging style; to an 'Always There' approach, where brands create content so relevant to their target audience and so well placed that they will naturally discover it on their own terms. 

Content that is, quite literally, 'always there' when you, the user, want it and need it.

Brands need to provide a compelling reason for consumers to engage. If they don't, then there are plenty of other brands for consumers to go to.

GT:SI:WR (Got Time: Sounds Interesting: Will Read)

We are living in a time of mass over-supply of content and messaging, both from brands we have subscribed to and those we haven't.

Those brands doing it right understand that their customers are now struggling to wade through the content swamp that meets them from the moment they first check their feeds from their beds in the morning. 

Rather than waiting for a brand to shove yet another unwanted message down their throats, consumers now discover, revisit and remain loyal to the brands they want to visit and filter out, or just ignore, those they don't.

Brand interaction today is facilitated on the user's terms, allowing them to choose what they want to see, when they want, on the devices they want. 

The ability to filter out TV ads is far from new and we acknowledge, with a certain degree of inevitability, the rise of digital ad blockers.

Thus consumers are now able to reject forced communications from brands they are not interested in hearing from - those that get in the way of the content they are trying to reach.

In amongst this content swamp, and partly the cause of it, is a quoted desire on the part of so many brands, to exercise an 'Always On' content strategy, to quite literally create and distribute content, in one form or another, all of the time.

The trouble with this form of messaging is that it ultimately still remains unwanted and unrequested, from the user's perspective... 

"I haven't asked for this content so why are you shoving it in my face? At least before I only had your TV ads to deal with (which I can now thankfully avoid) but now I've got you appearing in my all my social media feeds, on my desktop and mobile platforms, getting in the way of the content I am actually trying to reach!"

In other words, an 'Always On' strategy is still one that is derived from the brand's perspective and not the user's. It is still a Push strategy.

We believe that those brands seeking to be successful in the world of content marketing need to shift their thinking from 'Always On' to 'Always There'.

'Always There' means creating content that is of such relevance to the user, adding value in some way to their lives, that they will naturally discover it and actively seek it out. It then becomes desired content instead of interruptive content.

Only then will we finally be providing a service to the user that they actually want - a user-first approach.

8 steps to creating an 'Always There' strategy

So, how do brands begin to think about their content creation strategies from a user-first perspective, in an effort to replace 'Always On' with 'Always There'? 

The subject of far more than a closing paragraph to an article, here are eight key points every brand should consider:

  1. Say it because you mean it. Create content that means something to you as a brand.
  2. Be relevant. If the content means something to the reader, they will engage.
  3. Be timely and reactive. The right content, in the right place, in the right format, at the right time. 
  4. Don't interrupt. P*** me off and you've lost me forever. 
  5. Be regular. If you start and you're successful then I will hunger for more.
  6. Don't give up. If you're not successful at first, keep trying.
  7. Learn and evolve. Ensure that the learnings from each piece of content inform subsequent releases.
  8. Start a conversation. Be prepared to get a reaction. And learn how (or if) to respond.

Next article:

After all this talk of editorial content we feel that its about time we gave a concise answer to the question of what editorial content actually is. 

In our next piece we provide a bullet point guide to understanding what makes good editorial content.

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