Creating a company’s marketing materials can be nearly as difficult as developing the strategies for the campaigns the materials are intended to support. What used to be relatively straightforward has become increasingly complex. This is because of two main reasons: 1) the number of marketing channels is expanding; and 2) the marketplace expects more personalized and customized approaches.
In spite of these two factors, the main purpose of marketing content remains constant: to promote a product or service to a target audience. While there may be other desired consequences of marketing messages such as informing, educating and establishing brand identity, the most important function is to help elicit a response that will lead to a desired behavior with a positive impact – such as increased sales or enhanced brand recognition. This is the standard by which success or failure will be judged.
Challenges to content development
When developing content, marketers face two significant challenges: on-target messaging and collaboration. In an attempt to be first-to-market, creatives might think a message will resonate with the intended audience, when in fact it doesn’t. They forget to answer the question, “what is in it for me?” In other words, the message can be attention-getting but may lack clarity, focus and substance. This often occurs if marketers don’t conduct research to test the value of the proposed content with various target audiences. If marketing material is seen simply as a sales pitch, or leaves the reader without a clear idea of what the next step is, the campaign is doomed. The second challenge to content development occurs when marketers don’t involve others in the campaign strategy sessions and the overall process, especially the sales team. Salespeople are the individuals who understand what the marketplace needs and how best to appeal current and prospective buyers. Others stakeholders include those working in production, distribution and finance. Seek their input as well for added value during strategic planning.
The importance of process
The creation of compelling marketing materials begins with recognizing the main principles behind content development: to influence behavior and get people to act. Toward that end, use these guidelines to create effective marketing materials:
- Develop an internal checklist with each step necessary to assure thorough analysis of materials, messages and target audiences. There is a strong argument in favor of niche marketing over broad-based appeal.
- Conduct a periodic audit to review the campaign in general, and marketing materials in particular, to determine if they are meeting goals.
- Implement information technology that enables marketers to customize and address individual prospect and customer needs.
- Form a partnership between sales and marketing to determine what will work best in the sales environment.
- Keep a catalog of all materials, including audit results when performed.
Remember, content is king only if it reaches the right audience at the right time with the right message.