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Elevating your Content Marketing Strategy

Elevating your Content Marketing Strategy

August 8, 2021 | By Charles Runnette

In the most recent Lunch and Learn, Seattle Times Content Studio’s Manager of Strategic Partnerships Chandler Downs and I delved into the whys and hows of content marketing.

Content marketing has increasingly become a vital tool for marketing campaign managers who want to go beyond a banner ad, to both build customer loyalty/awareness and achieve better audience engagement – but what is it exactly?

We started off with the basics, making sure to point out how content marketing is different from regular advertising. For it to be considered content marketing, it needs to be useful, reliable information that is additive to a conversation and – most importantly – would be valuable to the reader/viewer even if the advertiser or sponsor were not included. Take, for example, the camping articles and videos that REI produces. Those expertly created pieces of content are well researched and thoughtfully produced – and would be useful to any camping gear enthusiast whether the pieces were REI branded or not.

For anyone considering whether content marketing is right for them, we offered up our list of what it IS good at and what it ISN’T. First off, what it is good at: engaging audiences that are typically less receptive to traditional advertising, aligning a brand with topics/themes they want to stand for, telling a nuanced story about something the brand does, demonstrating the value of a brand’s products/service without a direct sales pitch and building relationships with an audience by providing them content of value to them. And now, what content marketing isn’t good at: directly communicating the value of a product/service, telling an explicit brand story, driving an audience immediately to a path of purchase and delivering offers/incentives.

We wrapped up noting that there is also an important PR halo effect with smart content marketing. Which is to say you can very often improve or change your brand perception with effective – and consistent – content marketing.

Consistent storytelling that aligns a brand with a target audience is something successful brands like Nike, REI and Patagonia do very well, and it pays off with customer loyalty. The key for that and for all content marketing is that the brands are starting with an editorial idea that is user-centric and authentic. That’s the sort of content marketing that both engages audiences and makes them feel that the brand is providing them something they find entertaining and additive.

We wrapped up reminding everyone that we have great team of storytellers and content marketing specialists here at The Seattle Times Content Studio – with the ability to work with clients on articles, interactives, videos as well as amplification of that content across social channels, digital, print and CTV/OTT.

Charles Runnette is the Creative Director for Seattle Times Content Studio. He produces content for brands in written, video, interactive graphic and social forms.   He can be reached at crunnette@seattletimes.com.


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