What is your Content Compass?

In navigating your way in Content Marketing, it is important to have a Content Compass. This ?compass? is what sets the direction for your company?s content. The term is used variably by different consulting firms and academic institutions. Some refer it as a guide based on analytics that determines the type, topic, frequency and scheduling of a brand?s content. Others treat it as a brand guide for the tone and manner of the content. But for us, we believe that ?true north? is found only in the heart of our existence. i.e., it is really the purpose statement of your brand; why you want to do what you want to do.

If this sounds larger than the marketing function, it is. Truth is, marketing is not just ?promotions? but the business operation itself. Content Marketing should therefore also be integrated with all corporate functions. In the modern digital era, every employee is a potential ?spokesperson?, producing content for the company officially or unofficially. They can do so through actual interactions or though social media interactions with people they come into contact with. So it is absolutely critical for everyone in the company to embrace what your brand stands for, so that they will carry your brand value and proposition proudly far and wide.

Defining your brand purpose is not new. From the origin of ?business? in the form of barter trading, the fundamental component of business is to meet the needs of people. If a company is unable to do so or does so in an unscrupulous manner, it will not survive.

Business was originated to produce happiness, not pile up millions. – B.C.Forbes

A concept worth repeating is that, ?People do not buy things. They buy what the things can do for them.? However, having understood ?Why is Content Marketing important??, we need to expand the understanding of ?what things can do? beyond primary functions to psychological and emotional benefits. While selling quarter inch holes is better than selling quarter inch drills, there is no emotional attachment from the user to the brand, or in other words, there is no loyalty. If there is another product that delivers quarter inch holes at a lower price, the customers will likely jump ship. On the other hand, creating psychological and/or emotional benefits is not an easy task. The marketing fraternity has derived various segmentation models (eg., Babyboomers vs Gen-X vs Millennials, or Young & Rubicam?s 4Cs model) in order to help brands craft benefits for the various ?types? of people. However, they all employ a degree of generalisation and assume homogeneity in order to group people and are therefore never truly satisfactory. Two brands in my opinion have nailed it though:

The brand needs no introduction. Its marketing philosophy however, deserves another shoutout: ?The Apple Marketing Philosophy” was mentioned in Walter Issacson?s biography of Steve Jobs and it stressed three points: Empathy, or the intimate connection with the feelings of the customer, Focus, or the elimination of unimportant opportunities, and Impute, which is to set the desired qualities of their products into the customers? perception.

This philosophy results in beautiful, easy-to-use, simple products that, as Steve Jobs loved to say, ?just works?. The iPhone was not designed specifically for millennials. It was simply an utilitarian yet aesthetically attractive product that allows the users to tailor it to their needs (by installing apps that they need). Each individual has a unique ?iPhone?. Hence, rather than segmenting the market, Apple allowed users to define their own emotional and psychological attachment to the iPhone.

Similarly, and perhaps even more so, Muji embraces simplicity in their products. Art Director Kenya Hara defines it as ?To be confident in a simplicity that feels in no way inferior to splendour.? He explains that it is the simple form that gives users the freedom to develop their own way of handling and using their products.

Both Apple and Muji have adopted a philosophy rather than product attributes as what their brand stands for. What can their products do for users? It is left to the users to define it themselves. But in the process, they also allow their users to develop unique psychological and emotional attachment to their brand. This ?compass? cuts across all functions and into the very strategic core of the company. But specifically for Content Marketing, having understood the ?why?, it provides a clear direction in terms of the content message, delivery and the whole gameplay.

So, what is your Content Compass?