A Conversation with Adam Clement, Creative Content Manager, AP Content Services

We’re all sick of traditional ads. We’ve been inundated for years, on TV, on the radio, on billboards, in newspapers and magazines and, more recently, on websites, google searches and youtube videos. Consumers spoke up en masse, without even knowing it — we stopped responding. Simply, we stopped clicking; and, when we did click, we opted out before signing up or completing an order. We got smarter, which left a gaping hole for advertisers and marketers, both online and off.

The more level headed, sophisticated and strategic professionals didn’t dig in their heels, they coalesced on couches with big white boards and tossed out ideas. Then they started testing, and what they discovered is that — while misleading advertorials, rightfully, deter potential customers — clearly marked, value-add content that consumers want not only doesn’t leave that same bad taste in the mouth, it builds trust and loyalty. And, with that, the paradigm shifted.

According to Marketing Insider Group:

The number one reason that content marketing is important is that your customers appreciate it. Content marketing generates 3 times as many leads as outbound marketing, drives six times higher conversion rates, and has the potential for a 7.8-fold boost in web traffic. The reality is, content marketing has fostered the customer-centric reality we’re now operating in. From well-researched white papers to podcast series listeners can’t live without, content is changing the relationship between the brand and consumer.

At Echo Sixty6, we specialize in creating and amplifying (primarily digital) custom content for our clients — and to ensure our success, we:

  1. Spend almost as much time analyzing results and amplifying efforts as we do crafting content

  2. Research as much and as often as possible, to stay up on the latest content marketing trends and developments in consumer behavior

To gain further insights, we recently sat down with one of the creators of the Content Services division of the Associated Press, award-winning strategist and AP Creative Content Manager Adam Clement, who’s developed editorial and marketing campaigns for numerous Fortune 500 brands.

We asked Adam to share his six tips for improving your content marketing strategy, and here’s what he had to say…

1. Inform, entertain, and be timely.

Advertisers benefit when messaging informs, entertains and/or engages readers on topics that are timely and relevant, while providing insights not strictly beholden to the advertiser’s product or service.

2. Speak with, not sell to.

To earn trust and bypass the cynicism one has when confronted with any advertisement, messaging should aspire to treat the reader as an individual to be spoken with — and not sold to. Look at some of the most successful brands online today, and it’s easy to see the strength of storytelling when the messaging is less concerned with hard-selling a product or service. Look instead to provide information (or entertainment) as a resource to audiences while positioning your brand as a thought leader or tastemaker in your respective space.

3. Craft a story, not a sales pitch.

Allow journalistic principles to guide your content marketing: Tell the truth, don’t purposefully deceive and tell a story rather than focusing solely on selling a product or service. Refer to research and reporting where it makes sense to. No story was ever made weaker with facts and expert sources. Let those elements elevate your content and help win over reluctant customers with a soft-sell approach.

4. Think small to win bigger.

Advertisers can make the mistake of overwriting on topics that are very high-level. While there’s a time and place to paint in broader strokes, a more effective method is to zero-in on the best of your brand and its values, and pull on those threads to spin up a more focused and engaging narrative. For example: A story about the products a bank may offer is less engaging than a story about how a student athlete made it to the NFL thanks to that bank’s community philanthropy, scholarship program or corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies.

5. Stand for something.

The content economy has never been more crowded, and when it comes to standing out from the noise, many Advertisers are relying on thought leadership to be heard. This can be achieved by carving out a niche or owning the conversation around a salient topic in the news cycle. Ask yourself: What makes your brand different? What does the brand stand for? What are its ethics? What are its values? Are those reflected in the messaging you choose to put out?

6. Anticipate opposition.

This is the internet, after all. Craft messaging that considers multiple angles and sides of a given spectrum and craft your messaging with skepticism in mind. Put another way: Prepare to make apathetic or resistant audiences care about your messaging. You only have so little time and space to make your content count.

Next Steps

So, how does your content marketing stack up? Need guidance? We can help.

Special thanks to Adam Clement for providing this valuable information.

Follow Adam on LinkedIn.

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