It’s clear that 2016 will be a huge year for content marketing, and those companies ahead of the curve will reap the benefits. The good news is that there were some innovative companies in 2015 that are showing how to overcome some of the content marketing challenges facing B2B brands and connect with an audience. When it comes to digital storytelling, the following examples are key trends to expect from content marketing in 2016.
Brands That Tell a Big Story
Brands needs to build a narrative around their products and services, and 2016 is likely to be the year when storytelling becomes key. Why are stories so important? Stanford marketing professor Jennifer Aaker gave a presentation to LeanIn.Org where she outlined why people are 22 percent more likely to recall a presentation that incorporates stories instead of just statistics alone.
She explains that people are hard-wired to connect with stories, saying, “A story is a journey that moves the listener, and when the listener goes on that journey they feel different and the result is persuasion and sometimes action.” In short, stories help spark lasting memories that will stick in your customers’ minds.
Creating a Journey for Users
If you want your content marketing to succeed, you need to bring users on a deep personal journey that resonates. American Express provides a great example to follow in 2016. The company was so dedicated in 2015 to creating long-form content that told a real story, they planted a team of content producers for three months at Buchi, a startup in North Carolina that produces craft-brewed kombucha.
Amex’s piece, known as The Journey, documented the struggles and tribulations of this startup as they fought to grow their business. The Journey totals over 10,000 words and features multimedia content including documentary-style videos, infographics, personal interviews and journal entries with key players.
This deep storytelling experience allowed Amex to position itself in the hearts of all entrepreneurs as a company that deeply understands the challenges and opportunities facing every small business.
Marketing That Takes Risks
In 2016, 76 percent of B2B marketers plan to produce more content than 2015. However, this is no real surprise, and represents a continuation of a long-term trend.
The simple fact is that despite the explosive growth in content marketing, not only is much of it subpar, but there’s also very little faith in content from the actual people who produce it. In fact, only 38 percent of marketers believe their own company is producing effective content marketing. That’s why 2016 will be the year that content marketing takes more risks.
Freaker USA is one company that shows why risks are often key to brand development. They make drink insulators, but sell their crazy and curious designs through powerful storytelling — storytelling that may even turn off certain people. That doesn’t matter because they’re appealing to a specific demographic that loves their products. Featuring content like their Freaker Filosophy and even products branded under “Electile Dysfunction,” it’s clearly a company that is taking a risk, but a risk that helps grow its tribe and reach its ideal audience.
Bolder Storytelling as Competitive Advantage
Bolder storytelling that aims to disrupt industries will be a key theme of 2016. This is especially true if your business is competing against well-established companies in a crowded field.
DollarShaveClub.com launched a content marketing campaign in 2015 that was not only bold, but helped disrupt common industry fairytales. Through content, DollarShaveClub parodies the whole idea of expensive five-blade razors, vibrating handles and various other shaving gimmicks. Their content marketing strategy not only pokes fun at bigger companies that charge high prices for razors, but outlines why DollarShaveClub’s monthly subscription plan for razors delivered to your door is cheaper and more convenient.
The DollarShaveClub.com helped channel its rebellious appeal into an effective content marketing strategy and one video ad that racked up over 20 million views on Youtube. It’s a great example of why you should be fearless and continuously challenge industry orthodoxy.
Content That is Deeply Educational
Education that goes beyond the surface will be a big part of branding in 2016. You can learn from even big established companies like Colgate, which launched an entire comprehensive educational resource for customers.
Known as the Colgate Oral Care Center, it’s full of interactive guides, videos and hundreds of articles on topics ranging from how to control bad breath to more obscure areas such as how to ensure babies have proper oral care. In fact, Colgate invites readers to plug in any question, and immediately readers can pull a huge range of content with informative answers, making it a comprehensive one-stop resource for oral care.
Ultimately, Colgate’s educational content shows how you can tie in the value of your product without coming off as salesy.
Visual Storytelling That Goes Big
B2B brands are going big with visual storytelling in 2016. For example, Hootsuite is a company that helps other companies manage their various social network platforms. It provided an excellent example of visual storytelling through their Game of Social Thrones campaign. The campaign started as an infographic, but eventually evolved into a full-length ad that was shared across the web to help Hootsuite wow its audience.
Hootsuite’s Game of Social Thrones campaign leveraged an existing story to connect with an audience, which is a great strategy for you to follow. It also illustrated how investing more in visual content can help your content go viral and reach a huge audience.
Do you want to produce bigger and bolder stories that help you grow your brand in 2016? If you want this to be your year for content marketing, it’s time to contact Novation Consulting to help you grow, disrupt and evolve. Novation can help you succeed with your corporate rebrand and visual branding strategies, and ensure your content stands out from the pack in 2016.