Today, Bolt has a network of over 1,000 content creators across Asia Pacific. Not too shabby for a company founded in July 2015.
I spoke with Chan to get her thoughts on how businesses in Asia can create branded content their audiences will love. Chan shared five simple ways to create powerful content.
1. Make a real difference
“The goal is to create content that audiences will bookmark or hang on their wall.” Chan says that differentiating content from what is published by other brands today is crucial.
Many think that it’s just about finding new story angles or creating content in different formats. But Chan cites going the extra mile with well-researched data and helping customers discover meaningful information.
“Your customers are looking for something to make their jobs easier,” she says. “And there’s great potential for you to tell them how with content.”
One example she cites is the Map of the Money infographic created by a Singapore-based investor in 2012. Here’s what made the map such a great piece of content:
- It was particularly useful for its target audience, Southeast Asian startups raising money for the first time.
- The map provided valuable information that was hard to find.
- Since it was first released in 2009, the map has inspired many conversations and an interactive version.
While it could be playing the long game, she explains, brands that walk in their customer’s shoes and propose real value ultimately win the day.
2. Customize to specific accounts or individuals
Chan says the most successful content out there was developed with a specific audience in mind. For instance, B2B marketing teams that work closely with their sales teams can plan their content around prospects and clients.
Chan suggests B2C brands that begin conversations with specific brand advocates could create more brand engagement compared to audience profiling based on customer segmentation data. Chan says, “It’s a step up from developing audience personas, to one where the content is targeted at specific customer accounts and at times, specific individuals.”
For enterprise firms, Chan says, creating content for specific accounts can be effective. “Why not spend more of our time, to work with teams to nurture the top current and prospective accounts?”
She gave the example of how Bolt worked with a financial institution to target its regional enterprise accounts. While the firm has over a thousand accounts, prioritizing and customizing content to the top 5-10% of the highest earning ones and those with the fastest-growing revenues help the firm service key customers.
Because the accounts come from different sectors with unique business challenges, Chan says it was essential to plan content around specific account owners (the main decision makers) rather than around the organization.
By gaining insights into your prospects’ needs, you will be able to plan content that will make their jobs or lives easier.
3. It takes a sector insider to create great content
Most brands often have more than one product line across different sectors. Without a clear grasp of the different nuances and problems, your content can be lacklustre and unreliable.
To combat this issue, Chan spoke about her experience in the newsroom, where reporters typically work by an 80-20 rule:
- 80% of the time, they will be reporting on a specific beat, whether it’s healthcare, technology or even digital marketing. This allows them to build sector expertise and connect with relevant experts, which makes the content they create more valuable and advanced than their peers.
- For the remaining 20%, reporters will cover general news, so they get exposed to other sectors and are able to keep the bigger picture in mind.
Getting insiders to create content is more than speaking to the target audience in their language. Chan says that it is about having specialists who understand the problems, trends and innovations in the sector to address a specific topic. They have a certain empathy for the audience that generalist content creators do not have.
Other times, she suggests brands gather contributions from their company’s leadership or interview thought leaders in their specific sectors as alternative ways to establish the brand’s credibility and influence.
4. The local context matters
Chan suggests that considering the local context in content marketing could make or break a global or regional brand’s efforts.
“We assume that creating content for different markets is as simple as language translation,” says Chan. “Or even trans-creation which considers local etiquette and colloquial terms. But there are more factors at play and often it’s not something a Google search can solve.”
And it’s not just the key messages of the stories that matter. It’s also the delivery.
Chan says that when she was a business journalist, she had to take herself through the user journey and understand their reading habits.
She would then ask herself:
- When did they consume the most content? With their morning coffee? On the train to work?
- How did they consume the content? Tablet? Smartphone? Laptop?
- What content did they consume at different periods of the day?
Understanding your user’s journey will help to produce relevant content for your audience at the right times.
5. Be creative in how you deliver your story
Chan suggests that great stories are remembered best when they are delivered in a meaningful way and through people they admire. “One way is by collaborating with specialists in your brand’s respective fields. These specialists could be influencers in a particular industry or key advocates of your brand.
Creativity also extends to exploring upcoming technologies such as chatbots and virtual reality. She lists how Bolt is working with a client to deliver content through a newly developed chatbot to launch in mid-2017. The bot would prepare customized travel tips and respond to the user complaints, akin to a digital concierge for the jet set.
While she believes in the potential of upcoming channels and technologies, she also notes the importance of remaining focused.
One way is to identify where in the hype cycle the technology is, says Chan. Some questions she recommends marketers asking themselves are: What is the maturity of the technology or platform? When can it become a more productive technology?
Chan says that after an initial hype for a new technology, interest will wane, and second and third-generation products appear and the technology becomes more productive. “You can ride the wave up, but you have got to jump off before it plunges. It’s very tiring to jump from tech to tech. What’s more effective for your organization’s effort is to try to identify which technologies stick after the bust.”
She adds: “What marketers should try to have is a mix of more stable technologies while continuing to experiment with new ones.”