“Your audience wants stories, we know how to tell them” is the promise made by Medium Rare, the company sponsoring this feature on the future of content marketing. The irony of this not lost on us.
The feature looks at the subject from two distinct angles. Graham Medcalf speaks to a selection of top local marketers to gain insight into how they view content marketing within a landscape of multi-disciplinary marketing choices, and their views on the future of a form of communication that is gaining in popularity. At the same time, Sally Duggan exposes the change in attitudes from publishers. Many of whom are embracing content marketing as a favoured form of paid-for marketing that has seen traditional advertising and the old-style advertorial replaced with a more consumer friendly and effective comms strategy across a broad swathe of media.
Marketers are becoming publishers, creating content that meets audience needs in a manner that is often more persuasive with consumers who have become more advertising savvy and sceptical.
Google ‘content marketing’ and you’ll come across a definition something like: “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Done well, content marketing builds trust, brings your brand values to life, increases brand awareness and likeability, and provides an opportunity to disseminate information that can be difficult to convey in a traditional ad.
As Liz Fraser, Commercial Director at MediaWorks NZ says: “Audiences are increasingly time poor and have more commercial messages being thrown at them than ever before. Content marketing provides an opportunity for brands to show they ‘get’ their audience.”
Some great recent examples of where MediaWorks has supported clients create content for their brand on their own channels include V Game Changer with The Rock, Mai, and George; and IAMS Dog Food on The Breeze.
Alongside V Energy and FUSE and partnering with gaming company Let’s Play Live, MediaWorks built the V Energy Game Changers Tournament – a gaming/media event using influencers and on-air talent to scale listenership and a following through social. The content created appeared as V Energy content on Twitch, Sky TV, on MediaWorks brands’ social pages and websites.
IAMS was giving dog lovers a chance to make their dog famous, with the selected winners not only appearing on The Breeze platforms, but also creating content for IAMS and appearing in the physical calendar, as well as on IAMS billboards and social pages.
Speak to New Zealand marketers and they’ll be somewhere between generally positive and totally enthusiastic about the opportunities presented, regardless of which sector they operate in.
T&G Global (originally Turners and Growers) work alongside a global team of growers, marketers and distributors, and Head of Global Marketing, Rebecca Chapman, uses content marketing as a way to amplify T&G’s connections with target consumers, in key countries around the world. T&G have been able to develop very localised content, which allows their brands to reinforce the brand positioning in a very locally and relevant way.
The company often uses influencers or brand ambassadors to create more real content and build greater reach. Content marketing strategies are used for key global brands such as Envy™ Apples, JAZZ™ Apples, Beekist Tomatoes and Orchard Rd berries and grapes.
Platforms such as TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are selected depending on which best fits with the brand.
“For Envy, we have developed global brand content, and this is translated and localised to best fit with local consumers,” reports Rebecca.
T&G are in the process of activating a recipe video with key influencer Debbie Wong on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube in Hong Kong. This follows the success at the China Mid-Autumn festival in September involving strong content marketing activation, reaching 27, million consumers on the Red and TikTok platforms.
Similar success was achieved in the US for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
For the JAZZ™ brand, T&G developed apple recipe videos featured on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and TikTok around the world. The content is translated locally, may feature local key opinion leaders and the length and style of the video will be tailored to suit the platform environment.
In New Zealand, to celebrate Te Wiki o te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week 21) T&G collaborated with local foodies Jay and Sarah (ex MKR contestants) to develop JAZZ recipes and teach te Reo along the way. The video content was shared on YouTube and Facebook.
For The Warehouse, social media is extremely important when it comes to sharing content. “People can’t get enough of video content,” says Bhavika Rambhai, Marketing Chapter Member – Digital Specialist. “If you can, make video – it doesn’t always need to be professionally shot – you’ll be surprised what you can achieve with an iPhone and good lighting.”
The Warehouse regularly creates video content based on customer mindset and what is likely to be relevant in their lives. During Halloween, it shared a DIY Halloween Treats video. When air fryers were the talk of the town, the company created a video to help inspire customers about what they could make with their air fryer.
“The video about eco-friendly products on TikTok was an easy way for us to be able to showcase our range in a way that leveraged content styles and themes seen by audiences on the platform,” says Bhavika.
Strategy is key
Customer-led content developed from insights has long been the cornerstone of Mitre 10’s marketing strategy. From the early days of ‘Easy As’ DIY content to more recent work targeting specific customer segments, such as the ‘Weekend Makeover’ series, the marketing team aligns what they create to what their customers need and will be looking for in the future. The ‘Weekend Makeover’ series launched in April 2021 and has already achieved 1.4 million views and 60,500 watched hours.
Longform content has been a cornerstone to delivering the advice and guidance Mitre 10 customers are looking for, and well-marketed quality content is a winning formula – with YouTube videos attracting 20.9m New Zealand views in 2020 alone.
The ‘Easy As Lockdown Edition: How to build a go-kart’ video is a prime example of understanding what’s happening in customers’ lives and responding with relevant content. Filmed under lockdown conditions without a production crew, the video filming used basic tools and everyday materials to create a fun family project. It achieved 620,000 local views in just eight weeks on YouTube. And, launched in April 2020, the ‘Easy As Kids Lockdown Editions’ have been watched for a total of 61,000 hours.
Over the past six years, Mitre 10’s YouTube channel subscribers have grown from 18,000 to 223,100 (over 1,000 percent increase) and views have significantly increased from 6.5 million to 101.9 million (an increase of 1,400 percent).
“We’re continually producing a diverse range of content tailored to different audiences, says Chief Marketing Officer Jules Lloyd-Jones. “Our educational content, ‘Easy As Home Improvement’ and ‘Easy As Garden’, has a huge following. We’ve also built out the strategy to include fun stuff like ‘How to Build a Halloween Pumpkin’ and content that recognises and celebrates important cultural events like Matariki and Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori.”
Jules is currently working through a significant piece of research that is a deep dive into understanding what customers want from Mitre 10.
Research is a fundamental tool in the creation of content, particularly where technology products are concerned.”
Lynda-Anne Bodger, General Marketing Manager at Panasonic New Zealand adds: “It makes the process of understanding features/benefits and the need for a product in a more relaxed form, less ‘in your face’.”
Panasonic has used the Stuff sponsored content that appears alongside premium editorial, a good example of which is the reintroduction of the classic turntable, and more off the wall type content, partnering up with How To Dad to promote the best way to watch the Rugby World Cup, utilising a Facebook video. Interestingly, Lynda-Anne sees video, digital and social as priorities for the future.
Others frequently rely on audio visual environments to deliver the features and benefits of their products, particularly with a high frequency of product launch, upgrade, and refresh activity.
NZME have been particularly strong for Jaguar Landrover NZ because it delivers highly engaged audiences in specific segments at volume. They also produce a quality product across multiple media and have access to great talent and production capabilities to create content.
Jaguar Landrover NZ worked with Viva to help Jaguar engage with a growing segment of female considerers who are prioritising performance as a key attribute when purchasing an automotive product. This was delivered by Claire Chitham through a lifestyle local travel series in print, digital and social.
The company has also worked with the talented team at Driven (NZ Herald) to create a series of product review content for new vehicle releases. It has used Sam Wallace for this content to help position the luxury brands in a more colloquial and accessible manner while still calling out automotive excellence with Sam’s
passion and enthusiasm for the industry.
Marketing Manager at Jaguar Landrover NZ, Luke Meurant, believes that media partnerships are highly effective (almost essential) when planning and executing content marketing programmes. “As marketers we are ‘borrowing’ the audiences that these media partners deliver at scale but more importantly we are leveraging the reputation they have with their audiences and the ability to speak to those audiences with an authentic voice.”
In the second-hand car market, Turners Auto Retail Division has a steady stream of content on its social pages. “The objective here is simple says Sean Wiggans, General Manager – Marketing. “In a much-maligned industry (used car sales) we’re putting a human face on our company through showcasing our very real and very human people.”
Turners recently had two great partnerships with The Project (the ‘Wheel of Immunity’) and NZ Herald (supporting the 90 percent Project). These activities were both in support of getting New Zealand vaccinated – quite a departure from its main campaign message: “Tina from Turners – we love buying cars”.
Eleanor Bucher is responsible for this type of marketing at Electric Kiwi, and she admits the average Joe doesn’t find electricity very interesting. “We invest in content marketing to bring our brand to life and to show the values we live and breathe as a business,” she says. “We use content marketing to make people laugh, to educate current and prospective customers, to tell our brand story, and to show we don’t take ourselves too seriously!”
Electric Kiwi just launched a nationwide talent show, Electric RPM, searching for Aotearoa’s most worthy band or musician to be recorded, signed to management, pressed to vinyl and invited to perform live at Nest Fest.”
Like may others, Electric Kiwi has a strong social media presence and uses images and infographics as well as blog posts and written content. “Repurposing our content into several different formats helps us to reach a wider audience and squeeze more ROI out of each piece of content we create,” says Eleanor.
In many areas, from education to insurance, finance and beyond, content marketing is playing a role. AUT has just signed a deal with a new start-up in an area where it supplies academic voices for interviews (video/podcast) which helps the start-up but also provides a platform for academics to provide expert opinion. And, to fit with its young profile, AUT is looking at TikTok for more of its content marketing strategy.
MAS (Medical Assurance Society) has a magazine (OnMAS) and an online content hub to help with its content marketing and there is a fundamental shift towards content marketing. “We try and blend print, online and social through the layers of story content, testimonials, and explainers,” reports Mike Davy, Chief Member Advocacy Officer at MAS.
SmartPay recently published a Small Business Marketing series aimed at helping merchants think about and look at ways they can build their marketing channels. The series provided digestible information on how businesses can engage with local communities, market their business, leverage social media, and help businesses grow, with a specific emphasis on small businesses.
“Our next series will be focusing on recent payment trends as a result of Covid-19 and how merchants can start to save some of their costs by introducing a surcharge for customers that prefer to pay via Paywave or Credit Card,” says SmartPay’s NZ Marketing Manager, Danielle Hermez.
Residential building company, Universal, are starting to use content marketing as part of its strategy, to engage with customers early in their purchase journey. “Working in property development and real estate means we have quite a long path to purchase from when consumers start thinking about purchasing a home through to searching and finally being in market,” says Philippa Morris, Head of Marketing. “Content marketing for us is very early in the consumer journey to share with them the benefits of buying new homes and higher density living. It’s a great way to share content and softly warm them up to the category and start to build salience with our brand.”
This year Universal has struck a partnership with Stuff and placed some content articles on their site alongside digital banner advertising. According to Philippa, the best success was with a mini quiz about the style of home that suits you. This was engaging content and drove customers to explore the different options they could have with higher density living.
Lyndsey Francis, Director Marketing at the Retirement Commission (who runs Sorted) told NZ Marketing, content marketing is playing an increasingly important part in their marketing mix but doesn’t see it as a strategy in itself. “I think the key is to understand audience behaviour, motivations and where to find and connect with them, to define a role for content marketing within the marketing mix.”
Lyndsey has worked with lots of major brands developing content marketing propositions at TVNZ, such as Mind over Money with Kiwibank and the long-term platform ‘Easy As’ with Mitre 10. At Sorted she uses everything in her toolkit to get content to the Commission’s audiences. In 2020, during the first Covid-19 lockdown, alongside advertising, Sorted for the first time on TV, took a content led approach and developed a one-off TV programme My Money What Now? In partnership with Fair Go.
At Auckland War Memorial Museum, audiences are diverse, and Denise Cohen, Head of Brand & Customer Engagement, relies on a content marketing strategy to make sure she meets the needs and satisfies the many publics.
“The mahi we do is as broad as it is deep, and we make sure we cover stories of our five main collection areas, and the people who work within those. At any one time only a portion of our collection is on show to the public, so content marketing is a fantastic way to show more of what we are doing.”
During the first lockdown in 2020, within a space of a few days the museum launched Auckland Museum at Home. “This content hub has served us incredibly well,” confides Denise. “It’s become a place where people can entertain kids, watch talks, read about new discoveries and the like. Outside of lockdowns we have kept content fresh in the hub, always at the ready for any eventuality (of which there have been many!).
Back in the 1960s and 1970s when Villa Maria was a fledgling brand, the company used educational food and wine pairing evenings at the winery cellar door as a way to educate and engage the local community. In its simplest form this was the foundation of today’s content marketing and helped build a loyal community of brand advocates, and content marketing remains an important part of Villa Maria’s strategy.
Fast forward 60 years and Villa Maria is much more sophisticated in its approach due to the tools and (predominantly digital) media channels now at its disposal.
“One of the most impactful ways Villa Maria has used content marketing was in 2019 when we worked with an American filmmaker to create a feature length documentary that tells a story of winemaking that had never been told before,” reveals Sarah Szegota, Head of Marketing and Communications. “We filmed the entire vintage process, peeking behind the curtain of the all-consuming harvest period and captured the passion and hard work that goes into every bottle of Villa Maria wine. Vintage tells a uniquely Kiwi story capturing the incredible highs and heart-breaking lows of making world class wine in New Zealand and gives the audience the opportunity to spend time with the Villa Maria brand that is meaningful.”
The documentary was aired on Three, then available on ThreeNow, it was on Air New Zealand’s inflight entertainment system and Amazon Prime. Villa Maria hosted red carpet premieres of the film in Auckland, London, Dublin, New York, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Berlin, Amsterdam, Sofia, Moscow, and Stockholm, which generated masses of media coverage. And the content was repurposed on its website.
“We reached millions of target consumers globally who each spent 90 minutes engrossed in a documentary about how and where our product is made and the people behind it.”
Clearly content marketing is something to celebrate, perhaps even with a glass of wine.
This article was first published in the December/January 2021 issue of NZ Marketing.