The New Rules of Marketing: Creating Stand-Out Content

By Salvatore Ciolfi September 21, 2020

The New Rules of Marketing: Creating Stand-Out Content – the latest in BrainStation’s Digital Leadership Event Series – took place on September 17th and featured executives from  La Colombe Coffee, Chobani, Condé Nast, and Unbounce. 

You can watch the full panel discussion here:

The average adult picks up their phone 58 times a day. That is 58 opportunities for brands to capture a user’s attention, build brand awareness, and convert a user. Today with increased competition and increasingly discerning consumers, it’s never been harder for brands to stand out. How do you create “thumb-stopping” content that breaks through the noise?

We spoke with content marketing experts from La Colombe Coffee, Chobani, Condé Nast, and Unbounce to see how they’ve adjusted to the COVID-era. 

Let Data Lead the Way

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s the value of data, particularly when it comes to testing new mediums, channels, and forms of content.

Lloyd D’Souza, the Executive Creative Director/Head of Content Development at Condé Nast, reveals that the company’s brand-building initiatives lean heavily on the work of its editorial teams, who often have already experimented with new and emerging platforms.  

“We get the data from them and see what works…and apply that to how we work with the brand,” he said, giving the example of the audience Self Magazine has cultivated on TikTok.

“Self has essentially created a whole kind of brand voice on TikTok. Their approach to sexual education, and how they talk about it there, is incredible… and what they’ve done is applied an authentic voice…to give information to a Gen Z audience that’s looking for sexual health education,” he said. 

“They’ve created an audience that considers Self an authority on this, and…we’re looking to do that with all our brands.”

Data can also be leveraged to identify opportunities on the product development side. La Colombe Coffee, and its Draft Latte product line, is a good example.

“We launched oat milk into our cafes and within days saw such a huge shift; tons of people going towards putting oat milk into their coffees,” said Kathryn O’Connor, SVP, Marketing at  La Colombe Coffee, explaining that this user data encouraged the brand to start serving draft latte with oat milk at their retail outlets.  

Using market intelligence, the brand realized that ready-to-drink coffee was one of the fastest growing segments in the beverage category. The company sense an opportunity for a canned oat milk draft latte and applied their data-driven approach to develop a strategy.

“We look at an overlay of the category development across the country, the brand development index across the country, where we’re seeing these early adopters of alt milks, where we’re seeing ready-to-drink pop on the radar and then layer that with where our distribution’s high, and where the media is available. We then use all of those pieces to help inform our go-to-market strategy and our marketing strategy,” O’Connor said.

Adapt and Repurpose Content

As consumers become more media savvy, and with more channels and mediums than ever, content marketing needs to now include a mix of content, which organizations should be ready to repurpose and adapt for different parts of the marketing funnel.

“Our content mix changes kind of annually based on business need so we choose quarterly objectives that our marketing is going to focus on, or the direction that we want to go, and then our content is derived from those objectives,” said Jennifer Pepper, the Director of Content Marketing at Unbounce, explaining that her team creates a matrix of content gaps.

“We take a look at our different profiles or audience members and ask, do we have a customer story here? What do we need at the top of the funnel? We take a look at that and where we need to create in certain areas versus maybe the most sexy things – you know like everybody wants a branded show, everybody wants a podcast – but really making sure you have that foundation set from the start is really important,” she said. 

According to O’Connor, La Colombe Coffee follows a similar approach, with a focus on creating a mix of paid and organic content that leans on taste appeal and aspirational imagery. The key, she says, is being ready to adapt.

“We’re constantly revisiting it…does it still sit? Does it still resonate? Has something happened that we need to react to – especially the past six seven months have shown us there’s a lot to react to – so we are always revisiting and it has to be flexible.”

Balance Purpose With Product in Stories

Over the last few years, there has been a lot of importance given to “purpose-driven marketing”  – the idea that consumers want their brands to be aligned with a cause or purpose – partly because consumers today are more discerning than ever before.  

But for Eddie Revis, Vice President of Brand, Marketing and Media at Chobani, purpose-driven stories have to be measured out equally with good old-fashioned product marketing. 

“You have to balance both, because you’ll never have one without the other successfully,” he said, explaining that Chobani has worked hard to avoid a trap many direct-to-consumer brands fall into, where you “have no idea who the company is and you don’t know what they stand for and you don’t know what their story is and why they exist.” 

As an example, Chobani recently announced it was donating all profits from a new limited-edition flavor (Chobani Greek yogurt PB&J) to Feeding America, a nationwide network of food banks that provides food to people in need. 

“That’s a product story we’re talking about with this great product – this healthy nutritious yogurt that you can go buy – but it’s driven by our purpose and who we are as a company,” Revis said. 

Embrace the Power of AI 

Marketing today isn’t only about building brands through amazing content. It is also closely measured by its impact on business growth. And to deliver high-converting content, more and more marketers are leveraging AI and machine learning. 

“I was a skeptic of this myself because I thought that sounds too futuristic,” Pepper said, “but where you used to be confined to testing this versus that, or a split test where you’re sending traffic to a landing page that’s basically equally weighted in all cases, we have now developed things like smart traffic, where instead of fiddling around with your ad platforms you can you can create tons of different variants of your campaign message to strike the right tone with different portions of your audience,” she said. 

“It’s not about you making those decisions anymore – you can actually hand that over to machine learning, which I think is really exciting because it does feel futuristic but it’s basically this giant easy button.”

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