Brands as “Contentpreneurs” in Twenty-Plenty
We're halfway through 2020. For some brand publishers, it has been a year filled with the pressure of digitization. For others, will power and perseverance are helping push through times of uncertainty. Such publishers remind me of the entrepreneurial spirit of South Africans: resilient, adaptive, original, and with an unwavering openness to opportunity. They are the visionaries of content marketing and companies that have pushed the envelope by embracing a new reality. A recent Kantar study found that web browsing has increased by 70 percent since the global spread of COVID-19. Consumers are more exposed than ever to content clutter, which makes it difficult to cut through the noise of "Twenty-Plenty.”
In the past, brand publishing was seen as a marketing strategy, in which brands treated themselves not as advertisers but as content publishers. It included the use of a variety of content types such as newsletters; print publications; webinars; infographics; podcasts; downloadable PDFs; photography; videos; social media content; and, of course, blogs.
Over time brands have evolved to adapt to the evolving needs of the content consumer. With competition as fierce as ever, they have engaged consumers to win them and keep them. A recent global media report showed that, for all the turmoil in the industry, a core macro trend remains steady: traditional media continues to fight for relevance as increasing broadband penetration brings with it new formats and channels through which consumers can access content. Fortunately, some traditional media owners have innovated their content offerings to include Over the Top (OTT) content to remain relevant and competitive (e.g. East Coast Radio's East Coast Gold digital radio station).
As brands seek profitable growth in a changing landscape, the next step for the industry is to focus on finding branded content opportunities amidst reduced marketing budgets. In our new normal, some brand publishers will seek new possibilities and solutions where others see problems. Brands will be required to think and act as entrepreneurs – becoming among the world's most powerful transformative forces.
Enter the age of Contentpreneurship, a new type of brand publishing that takes an entrepreneurial approach to branded content, entertainment, and publishing. It operates quickly and flexibly, reducing production time while simplifying content workflows and delivering cost savings. It involves building strong brands through helpful and entertaining rather than promotional content. This innovation not only sells products and services but also focuses on customer-centric storytelling to attract and sustain audiences. It allows brands to take action to pursue opportunities with limited resources.
With the increase in online activity over the past several months, we've witnessed brand contentpreneurs who have approached brand publishing from an agile, newsroom perspective to make their brands matter during turbulent times. Examples from our own stable of clients include:
Dove Men+Care. The brand collaborated with photojournalists to document and profile the #ChampionsOfCare who were at the forefront of the pandemic. They also contributed towards boosting the morale of modern men by sharing user-generated content of dads caring for their kids at home, encouraging them to #DadOn.
East Coast Radio. The brand positioned itself as KZN's No.1 COVID-19 Companion during the lockdown period by innovating on its content.
These brand contentpreneurs have shown agility, flexibility, resilience, original thinking, distinctive branded content creation, and contributed to supporting consumers during difficult times. Although the global pandemic has had a massive impact on brands, some were able to quickly adjust and identify the crisis as an unprecedented opportunity for the birth of something new – a shift from brand publishing to brand contentpreneurship.
The creation of content for purposes other than advertising, SEO, and direct response has been around for years. Over the past decades, brand publishers have evolved from including content marketing as a small component of an integrated strategy to creating story-driven brands that have become publishers in their own right. The next paradigm shift involves becoming brand contentpreneurs that are in the business of earning attention and building affinity to ensure a faster recovery.
Hybrid Strategist at Ogilvy