If You Build Great Content, They Will Come

The_Makegood.com_Ragini_BhallaWe are pleased to welcome Ragini Bhalla as a monthly contributor to The Makegood. Ragini is Director of Content and Communications for Maxymiser, the leading expert in online testing, personalization and cross-channel optimization for some of the world’s largest brands. Look for her column on the second Friday of every month.

For those of us born before the 1990s, there’s a scene in the all-American flick, “Field of Dreams,” where Kevin Costner’s character ‘Ray Kinsella’ is walking through cornfields (yes, cornfields) and hears a voice whisper, “If you build it, he will come,” and then he sees a baseball diamond. In the world of advertising and marketing, that adage rings true in more ways than one. As someone who has been planted in the communications and PR business for the last 8 years, I can wholeheartedly point to the importance of building great content so that they (in my case, reporters and analysts) will come.

We as consumers come into contact with countless brands and their products/services multiple times throughout every day in the form of advertising in newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, online and now on the smaller screen via our smartphones and tablets. That’s a lot of content, a lot. And we (consumers, that is) aren’t too understanding when a brand gives us bad content – when I say bad, I mean content that offends, angers, disrespects and misleads us. And that means more pressure for brands to get their content right.

Joe Pulizzi from the Content Marketing Institute said it best: “Remember, customers don’t care about you; they care about themselves and their problems. We often forget that point when we describe how wonderful our widget is (which no one cares about).” Essentially, brands need to think of themselves as the parents of a petulant child – if you don’t give your child what they want, how they want it, when and where they want it, be prepared for a serious temper tantrum. That temper tantrum might look a bit different from an angry child kicking, screaming and turning red from crying for hours; it’ll look much more like decreased site traffic, less clicks, lower conversions, and ultimately, less revenue. That’s the kind of temper tantrum brands just can’t afford to let happen.

Since this is my first column for The Makegood, I won’t go on and on about why consumers (I’m no exception) are so finicky, impatient and demanding. Instead, I’ll share three of my favorite brands that are on the right track to building great content so that they (also known as consumers) will come.

Makeup.com doesn’t force-feed you L’Oreal products.

If you took a peek inside my vanity, you’d know that I love makeup, a lot. But that doesn’t mean I want to have big flashing banners or calls-to-actions pushing me to “purchase” their products. One of the reasons I actually enjoy clicking my way through the Makeup.com website is that they aren’t trying to shove their makeup products down my throat. Instead, the product purchase falls behind my needs and what makes me happy. That makes me want to click more, spend more time learning about quick fixes to those summer beauty blunders we all face and eventually, when I’m ready, I’ll make purchases.

As a communications and PR professional, there’s a lot to learn from this site. Brands need to consider what content they share with consumers (if they want to convert them into buyers).

Fab.com is both delightful and absurd, in a good way.

Who doesn’t love Fab.com? If you scroll through the site’s home page, it’s bursting with a beautifully curated amalgamation of colors (or as Bravo’s famed fashion stylist, Brad Goreski, calls “POC” aka pop of color) and equally delectable, “must-have” products. The website says so much about how the customer shopping experience is fast shifting from a simple “purchase” experience to a combination of editorial shopping and content curation.

The New York Times rules.                                                                             

I can never forget that my professional roots come from the world of journalism and news. It’s where I learned one of the most important content and communications lessons (that I still use to this day): Get to the point, better and faster. So of course I’m a big fan of The New York Times not only because each and every news story feels real, talks to you as if you’re right there inside that Congress panel hearing or army barracks. And when this beloved news giant decided to go digital, they did it in a big way. But as much as some skeptics of new media and journalism models scoffed at their decision to launch digital paid subscriptions, the plan is working. They now have close to 700,000 paid digital subscribers and a nine-figure revenue stream – that’s a win-win for both The New York Times and readers like me.