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We may have narrowly skirted the forecasted 2023 recession, but we're not in the economic clear just yet. This month, Statista reported a 56.16% probability that the US economy will fall into an economic recession by September 2024.
The looming specter of a recession has become more than just a whisper in the boardroom. Now a palpable concern, it has prompted many brands I speak with to reassess and recalibrate. In the corporate marketing sphere especially, tightening budgets and resource constraints are forcing many of us to grapple with how to 'do more with less.'
Heading into 2024, marketers must reevaluate strategies, cut through the noise, and maintain a laser-sharp focus on objectives. But with so much emphasis on belt-tightening, I'm left wondering: is the pressure causing us to lose focus? Are we, perhaps unwittingly, sacrificing core tenets of effective content marketing in a scramble to weather the storm?
The Content Dilemma
Over time, I've seen the surmounting pressure to keep up in a competitive landscape transform many brands into content factories. They've become tactical fulfillment centers, reactively filling orders for content from around the organization, often at the expense of strategic marketing.
The result is irrelevant content that doesn't help buyers meet their goals (and, therefore, doesn't convert)—a squandering of time, budget, and opportunity.
So, how do we fix it?
During this critical content planning period, we need to reflect on how marketing can regain control, reintroduce a focus on purpose, and elevate the narrative—even in the face of challenging economic conditions.
Purpose-Led Content Marketing
If you want increased audience engagement, improved brand awareness and loyalty, and higher conversions, build a blueprint to move from an on-demand production house to content marketing with purpose.
Encourage your team to stop chasing performance with tactic-based marketing and reflect on the fundamental questions that shape your brand's identity.
Why does your brand exist?
What purpose do you serve in the market, and how does this align with revenue generation?
(I challenge you to dig deeper than your mission statement.)
How can your brand maximize its influence through content innovation?
In what ways can tools, resources, and support models be realigned to establish a premium content program?
To answer these questions, you first need to understand why your customers make the choices they do. In this Harvard Business Review piece, Clayton Christensen and colleagues refer to this as knowing your customers' "jobs to be done."
Thanks to the big data revolution, we know more about our customers than ever. The way we use the data, however, is often misguided. Instead of looking for correlations that don't necessarily prove causality, we need to focus on understanding the specific objectives customers aim to achieve in a particular situation.
That, my friends, is the golden ticket for creating and scaling your high-quality content program.
Here's a hypothetical example.
You're a premium pet food brand. You cater to affluent cat and dog owners because you know they can afford your premium prices on top of all the other expenses of owning a pet. (The data says so.) But despite your strategic placement in high-end supermarkets like Whole Foods and Erewhon, your marketing efforts—and sales—consistently fall short.
A deeper dive into your target demographic reveals a significant opportunity. Your dog food stands out as the sole high-quality, gluten-free option in the market, and three of the top five least expensive dog breeds are prone to celiac disease.
As you tap into the mindset of this new, lower-income demographic, you uncover a shared sentiment—these pet owners consider their dogs integral members of the family. Taking on the role of caregivers, they are unwavering in their commitment to the well-being of their pets, regardless of cost.
You launch a comprehensive content program focused on this. Your purpose is to be the pet care company for those who believe their pets are family. Your content reflects all aspects of that, even areas outside your product domain. For example, a blog detailing how to get the perfect family portrait when your pet refuses to sit still.
As a result, your brand begins resonating with pet owners as the optimal choice for their cherished animals. You've strategically tapped into a previously overlooked market segment, and your sales improve.
This example, while simple, underscores a fundamental principle: a brand's success hinges on its ability to assist customers in what they perceive as their essential tasks, such as caring for their beloved pets. Without a clear purpose, rapidly churning out content that fails to resonate with anyone becomes a futile effort.
Define Your Purpose
To create a purpose-led content program:
Understand your target audience and what they want or need to accomplish, including the functional, emotional, and social aspects.
Define your purpose in relation to those needs, considering the broader context in which customers use your product or service.
Produce high-quality content reflecting all aspects of your purpose that directly addresses the jobs your audience is trying to get done.
Align your messaging with the language and context of your customers.
Adapt the messages in your core content for different channels and personas to improve reach and relevance.
Remember, in the bigger picture, clear purpose wins. Industry leaders are dialed into the needs of their customers and approach content as an extension of their products—to consistently add value.
The most successful brands establish a purpose-driven framework first, then innovate using AI-enabled tools like ATOMM™ to scale output and amplify those messages in every channel to reach more prospective customers.
Do you need help building and activating a purposeful content program heading into 2024? Get in touch. I'm here to help.
Featured image by Justlight at Adobe Stock.