De toekomst voor content marketing: “2023 is het jaar van de grote comeback van creativiteit”

“2023 is the year of the great comeback of creativity”

Ruth Nys, strategy director content at iO (© Emilie Bonje)

How do you ensure that your brand stands out in the avalanche of content that consumers are bombarded with every day? According to it Opportunity Report of iO the key is creativity. “More than ever, it is the cognitive skill that marketers must have,” says content strategy director Ruth Nys. She has been involved with content all her professional life and she sees that creativity is completely back from never really gone. “We always associate creativity with art. But to me, creativity means the unique ability to solve problems.”

These are exciting, but challenging times for content marketers, says Ruth Nys. “There is a spectacular amount of content coming at people every day. Every brand wonders how it can rise above the noise. Because consumers are not only getting an avalanche of content, they have also become more demanding.”

“The essence of marketing has not changed for decades, it is still about touching your target group with your message. Only that has become infinitely more difficult. We are all more easily distracted, we skip commercials and we click from video to video all the time. Brands have to be creative to get our attention, and they have to add value to keep it.”

The essence of marketing has not changed for decades, it is still about touching your target group with your message

“Creativity is the differentiating factor for brands. Not just for young, emerging brands. Established values ​​must also show guts. As far as I’m concerned, creativity is the cognitive skill that marketers must possess. It’s always been that way, but maybe we’ve lost track of it a bit in recent years? The World Economic Forum produces a Future of Jobs Report every two years, in which it predicts the skills that will make a difference in the future. In 2015, creativity was still somewhere at the bottom of the top ten, in 2022 it was the third most important skill,” says Nys.

“We often associate creativity with art, with literature, with music. With the great expressive expressions. But for me, creativity is above all the unique ability to solve problems. If you manage to formulate answers to the questions, needs and problems your target group has with your target group-oriented content experiences, then you are just as creative as if you came up with an original advertising campaign that will blow everyone’s socks off.”

A like doesn’t mean much anymore

In 2023 it will no longer be enough for your target group to ‘like’ your brand, emphasizes Ruth Nys. “Such a like doesn’t mean much anymore, your brand can do little with that. Blind trust in players such as Facebook and Google has been under pressure for some time, due to the disappearance of the third party cookies.”

“In the past you could just buy an audience from Facebook or Google – rent it actually, because it was never yours. But what then? You may be just an algorithm away from losing the connection you built with that ‘borrowed’ audience.”

Long before you can even start thinking about sales, you have to patiently build an audience. You do that with hundreds, even thousands, of small valuable moments and interactions. And preferably on your own channels, so that all exchange and the data you can capture with it is yours. And especially cherish those first party data. That is the future.”

Ruth Nys (© Emilie Bonje)

The more you can personalize and segment that content, the greater the impact of your content. The New York Times is a fantastic example of that approach. The newspaper sends out 60 newsletters every day, ranging from newsletters about geopolitics and the stock market to recipes and restaurant tips. As a result, the publisher of The New York Times has a gigantic database at its disposal and can thus create much more value, for itself and for other companies.”

If you buy data, and therefore reach, from Facebook, you will lose that money afterwards and you can only hope that your target group will start working with your content. First party data you have forever.

“But be careful, that database didn’t just happen. This is hard work and requires a major investment in people and resources. The big advantage is that the investment is not lost. If you buy data, and therefore reach, from Facebook, you will lose that money afterwards and you can only hope that your target group will start working with your content. First party data you have forever. A crucial argument to convince the CMO to invest in content.”

In recent years we have seen the focus and budgets shift from brand investments to performance marketing. Now that the economy is taking a hit and companies have to turn over every euro twice more than ever, there is a strong tendency to invest mainly in performance marketing, which immediately pays off in the short term.”

“That makes sense, but it is detrimental in the long run to put all your eggs in one basket. With brand building you invest in your audience of tomorrow. If you stop building your brand, you won’t tap into a new audience and the source will dry up. Content is the glue between brand building and performance marketing.”

Strengthen confidence

According to Nys, companies today have an important trump card to build an audience with impressive content. “Edelman’s Trust Barometer shows that people are losing trust in the media and government, and even in NGOs. But trust in companies is on the rise.”

People are losing trust in the media and the government, and even in NGOs. But confidence in companies is on the rise

Consumers look to companies to solve the world’s problems and their own problems. That is a heavy responsibility for brands, but of course also a great opportunity. But that confidence doesn’t just come naturally. You really have to earn it. And content is a very good way to gain the trust of your target group.”

Ruth Nys (© Emilie Bonje)

“Pfizer is a very nice case to illustrate that. In the midst of the corona crisis, the American pharmaceutical giant was confronted with fake news and all kinds of conspiracy theories about the rapidly developed vaccines. Pfizer then showed in podcasts and videos in all transparency how it could have developed those vaccines in record time.”

“No quick and superficial content, but really data-driven, journalistic content in which the scientists themselves played the leading role. In two years, despite all the attacks, Pfizer has risen from 61st place to 7th place in the ranking of the most reputable brands in the United States.”

Elephant in the room

Brands often ask iO which channels to use now. “Our answer is always very clear and pertinent: on those channels where your target group is. That could be TikTok, but that could just as well be Radio 1. I always have only one advice: wherever you create and share content, make sure that content is damn good.”

“Don’t create content that doesn’t do anything with your target audience and only increases hope. Do you want to send a newsletter? Fine, but make sure that the newsletter is a real gem. Are you making a TikTok sequence? Then make sure it is funny and original and really stands out. You have to deliver added value in every piece of content you unleash on the world.”

Wherever you create and share content, make sure that content is damn good

“I am now talking for my own store, but everything always starts with a crystal clear strategy. What are your business objectives? How will you use content to achieve it? That strategy is not set in stone. Content marketing isn’t an exact science, it is trial and error. Data helps us to find out what works and what doesn’t work. Data doesn’t lie. We are constantly experimenting here and based on data we are constantly adjusting strategies and tactics. That is the nice thing about working at iO, we connect the power of content and creativity with the power of data and technology.”

Whoever says technology, in the context of content, is of course impossible to mention ChatGPT and related AI solutions that automatically generate increasingly realistic content. “Ah, the elephant in the room”, Nys laughs. “I am convinced that technologies such as ChatGPT for text and DALL-E for images will not replace us, but will help us become more creative.”

“How can we jump even further thanks to these new tools? Perhaps they can take over the boring and repetitive tasks from us, so that we can let our human brains loose on the important things. Because to create good content, you still need talent and empathy. AI does not (yet) have that. Creating content is and remains a craft,” concludes Ruth Nys.

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