The major task for companies is to examine their own communication patterns and quit the invisible cage – this was the message of this year's eighth Power Of Content Marketing conference. We witnessed eight inspiring presentations transferred onto drawings, paper boards converted into a visitors' book by participants conducting a lively discussion in the lobby.

That May morning in the Kamienica Theter began with a sip of fruit water from our specially prepared bottles. The speed with which the bottles dispersed among the participants is only a proof that we know exactly what our customers need;) Another type of support for the guests and the conference formula itself were fantastic visual notes made live for each presentation by Klaudia of Explain Visually. The speakers delivered such colorful speeches that even the interpreters’ work was received with much appreciation.

In the cage of communication patterns
The content-related part of the meeting started with a re-run of the Presidential debate.
The first speakers, media expert Jacek Wasilewski and marketing strategist Bartek
Brach, explained on the example of President Bronisław Komorowski the speaker-listener relation in corporate communications. The greatest jeopardy here is plunging into communication patterns, hence the need for companies to check its innovation borders and whether it does not move within specific attitudinal cages. Certain expressions are not good for expressing certain messages, so it is difficult to make a change if we describe it in the “old” language. The way a company is perceived is related to the character it chosen to be, the narration it uses, what or who is the competition. Narration is based on the relation with the listener presented in the text, on a specific linguistic map: verbs and expressions used when speaking about reality. The experience perspective of the recipient depends on the perspective from which we speak, or – if we use a film metaphor – on the positioning of the camera. It often turns out that the way a company sees itself (“we are a company from X sector…”) does not match what it wants to create: a close, mutual relation with the consumer. Companies find it hard to go beyond a certain type of thinking, such as: our company “is”, and the beer we produce is not about the “taste” but about “quality”.

It is difficult to make a change if we describe it in the “old” language. The way a company is perceived is related to the character it chosen to be, the narration it uses, what or who is the competition.

Make it absurd, just don’t make it boring
We’ve learnt about frequent mistakes made by companies through research  ( conducted by the Power of Content Marketing Association and the IRCenter about the role of content in communications. According to Albert Hupa, companies’s expectations regarding content marketing are high. It should increase sales and generate leads, which in combination with the problem of measuring its efficiency is quite a source of stress for marketers. It’s good when it evokes discussions, but these should be directly about our company, and not the story said. The content should be comprehensible and not too humorous, rather neutral (which simply means it is boring, which will be pointed out by the consecutive speakers). According to the survey participants, the most competent subjects for dealing with content marketing include publishing houses and agencies and journalists collaborating with them. The content create by them should be distributed online, but at the same time so multi-channelled that one can call it “integrated and coherent”. Eventually, digital activities don’t go beyond a clickable banner, which makes it easy to calculate the CTR. Anyway, despite efficiency reports, it is also hard for companies to create content and develop strategy.
Luckily, the third speaker was Paweł Tkaczyk, whose job is helping companies tell stories. He told about the changing consumer and the market, where we no longer find stores but market places – that is many, often amateur sellers in one place. Today, popular hotel websites do not own a single hotel room (Airbnb), transport companies don’t have a single car (Uber), the largest e-commerce stores don’t have any commodities (Allegro), and content marketing websites – don’t employe a single journalist (Facebook). This type of market place increasingly competes for consumers’ attention. It may be problematic particularly for the older generation of PR officers, who have been taught that content should never be entertaining. The theme of a company as a prisoner of patterns and its own thinking returned in Paweł’s speech in the form of a story about an experiment on apes: when hungry, they weren’t allowed to climb the ladder and reach for bananas, because the ladder had sensors activating a stream of cold water falling on their heads. So the animals taught other group members not to climb the ladder. The mechanism eventually stopped working and the ladder was used by new animals, but old generation, remembering the cold showers, never dared to climb the ladder again.
Meanwhile, many things have changed. Some of those changes were predictable, as product commoditization is not historically new. Today, market is conversation (such as talking on the market place), and we no longer buy products but tales about them. Tkaczyk did not hide that “yoghurt will be yoghurt” so the only thing that can be built is the expanded product value: the value for consumers, e.g. the fact that the milk used in the production comes from a happy cow. Consumers are snobbish to a certain extent – we pay for emotions (hence dining in blacked out restaurants), we value things that are rare and in a way unique – like an unwashed sweater once worn by George Clooney. Absurd? Content marketing should have nothing to do with common sense, because emotions – the valuable essence – are higher than the mind. We can see the value of a story on online auctions, where worthless products are sold for several thousand złoty with a funny and original story. If we want consumers to love our brand, there must be passion, intimacy and involvement. Meanwhile, marketers are poor at using intimate channels, such as, for instance, newsletters. They convey no emotions nor humor in messages such as “Your purchase has been sent” or “20% discount in stores” sent from donotreply@….com. Good content makes people want to reply.

Consumer snobbery – we pay for emotions, we value things that are rare and in a way unique.

Good investments
Emotions were high after Paweł’s speech, when Björn Owen Glad of Spoon agency entered the stage, throwing around dollar bills. That was his way to illustrate throwing away money by companies misusing advertising. There is no other word to describe paying 9 million dollars for a one-minute spot at the Super Bowl which does not contain any call to action. People want stories, and advertising can be combined with content marketing, e.g. when we change the “click and buy” message to “see/learn more”. Investments in paid media pay back with a well thought out native advertising.

Such well developed strategic attitude was presented by Primož Inkret of PM agency, who presented case studies of customer Skoda Slovenia – a brand which jumped up from the 10th to the 3rd position among car brands in Slovenia. He sees content marketing as the most powerful promotion tool, similar to a submarine – much work remains hidden under the surface and is not visible for the customer. PM experts test what kind of content works best on which channels (e.g. by using interactive e-magazines), as even how we call a button can cause an essential change. According to Primož, measuring the value of content comes down to good emotions you evoke and the feedback you get. In his case, it is for instance: “You’re doing Skoda? Good job! I don’t have a car, but don’t stop sending me the magazine!” The fact that the decisions made by an agency are so successful is due to skillfully following the data. Primož claims that “we measure in order to make a change” and there is no need to be interested in all human behaviors, as only those count which influence our decisions.

Thoughtful foundations
The secrets of successful case studies were also discussed by Stefan Fehm of German agency
C3, who started with the premise that the foundation is great content – one that is engaging and encourages to act. If we don’t have this kind of content, we can’t even think about marketing and sales. Stefan encourages his customers to use new forms of communication, because – as he predicts – computer visits to websites are going to drop from 70 something to 50 percent to the favor of mobile visits. The content he develops and tests for his customers (among them Allianz and Tic Tac) shifts emphasis from products to consumers and their needs.

Last but not least, great speaker Senic Nenad, called the Joe Pulizzi of Eastern and Central Europe, brought forward some basic questions, which content marketing agencies often forget about while at work. In the process of creating a communication tool everything must be thought out through the prism of why we do it, for whom, how and how are we going to check if we do it the right way. Companies often think they use well-developed cross-media marketing, meanwhile, what they practice is a copy-paste attitude. A cross-media strategy is necessary for reaching consumers where they are and they way they consume content. „Be where your customers search for information and give them answers to all, even silly, questions” Nenad advised. “If your results are generated by a printed magazine and it is enough to reach your audience, there’s no point doing something different only because you can. You can use ten channels or just one, what matters is whether they bring improvement.”

View our conference presentation.