Fall '11 Breakthrough

October 16-19, 2011 | Las Vegas, Nevada

How to find the best marketing medium for your budget

articles

Branded audio, interactive media, and video all have a place in the marketing mix. So, what are the considerations that marketers must weigh when making a decision on where to focus their efforts?

There are many different options for marketers to create and share branded content with their target audiences online. Generic print and online advertising approaches, often viewed as the best way to reach consumers, are quickly falling by the wayside due in part to their lack of relevance and "one size fits all" approach. Today's consumer demands customized, personal connections to brands they care about. In fact, a recent study by the Custom Content Council revealed that 68 percent of consumers prefer custom content because it is tailored to their interests, with 74 percent preferring to get information about a company via branded content versus traditional advertising methods. Given the shift in consumer behavior, the ability to integrate branded content into marketing strategies is critical.

While many marketers understand how valuable and engaging branded content can be, they are skeptical of the time and monetary investment that this type of content often requires.

The biggest barriers for marketers that want to create branded content are:

  • Identifying strategies and opportunities to make impactful connections with target audiences and their influencers
  • Proving the ROI and overall value of their efforts
  • Staying within budget, while ensuring professional production value

With so many ways to leverage branded content now available, perhaps the biggest challenge for marketers is to understand which option is best for their unique business and communication needs. Branded audio, interactive media, and video all have their place in the marketing mix but what considerations must marketers weigh when making a decision on where to focus their efforts?

Audio is easy
Important conversations are happening within your organization every day, and audio is a solid way to turn live discussions into interactive branded content that can later be archived and accessed on-demand. A corporate blog post can quickly be made into a podcast, and a live call-in webcast can be timed with a new product launch, allowing customers to ask questions and engage with your brand in real-time. With the use of the right technology, editing can be simple and social media promotion can be done quickly with the click of a button. Easy to embed audio players can enable marketers to both integrate audio into any website and to include complementary imagery and text transcription.

Video is visual
Video is a good choice when messaging needs to be shared visually. While many companies incorporate video content into their marketing strategies, the reality is that professional video production and editing can be extremely costly and time-consuming. For marketing departments that do not have a big budget or dedicated resources to produce videos, there are options. One way to experiment with video content before committing to high production value, is to use low-cost video cameras to record training sessions, product demos, and events that can be uploaded directly to YouTube, Vimeo, or similar video-sharing platforms.

Interactive content is attention grabbing
If your primary goal is to engage your audience and to motivate them to understand your messaging and take action, interactive content can elevate your marketing efforts. A simple and cost effective way to add interactivity to your content is to enable comments, add a chat forum, conduct dial-in Q&A sessions, or allow users to upload content. For example, an infographic that users can interact with will quickly grab the attention of your audience so that they are able to easily understand, digest, and engage with your messaging. Marketers can use interactive content to explain complicated processes, procedures, or data in a visually appealing and understandable way.

Social media drives conversation
Businesses continue to utilize social technologies to reach their audiences on a personal level, humanize their brand, build relationships with key industry influencers, and deepen the impact of their marketing efforts. Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are the perfect fit for marketers who are looking to respond to customer feedback, provide real-time customer service or spark conversation. Social media is also an important medium for integrating branded multimedia content (like audio, images, or video) and drive interest through the customer's preferred medium. In addition, social media is a cost-effective alternative or supplement to traditional advertising as it allows marketers to connect with audiences directly and engage with customers where they are spending the majority of their time online.

As many companies scrutinize marketing budgets and ROI is more important than ever, it's increasingly important for marketers to understand how to effectively create and share branded content that consumers demand. While there are many changes in the online platform landscape, it is important to remember that branded content should focus on being relevant, timely, easily distributable, and platform agnostic. It's also important to set goals and to measure the success and impact of your content to ensure that you're strategy is aligned with your overarching marketing objectives. Empowered by technologies that make creating, publishing, and measuring the impact of branded content easy and affordable, marketers now have the opportunity to effectively engage their audience to build strong relationships and improve the overall value of their online marketing efforts.

Dan Kashman is president of Cinchcast.

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