“Good Will Toward Men”: The Strategy That’s Not Just for Christmas

December 21, 2015

The pressure of a positive image directly affecting the bottom line is driving this digital economy

Normally for the Christmas-themed article I’d wonder how I’m supposed to make the link between content marketing and Christmas. Something, something, mince pie.

How do you write a Yule blog? Tenuously, that’s ho-ho-how.

But enough with this tomfoolery; it is not so in 2015. This year it stares us right in the face. That biblical Christmas chestnut “good will toward men” has a broad and rather timeless applicability, and in these digitised times that sentiment could not be more applicable to how businesses and brands are expected to operate. In short, you want to get ahead in the strategy stakes? Be nice.

Does it inspire confidence in me as a company?

Back in October, Content Marketing Institute co-founder Joe Pulizzi wrote an excellent, very timely piece for Chief Content Officer magazine extolling the phenomenon of ‘content brand’ over ‘branded content’.

He points out that ‘branded content’ is essentially the advertiser trying to push his way into the creative content space, blurring the lines between native adverts and content marketing, somewhat. It’s rooted in pushing out the content you assume your audience wants, with very much a quick-fix strategy, as with traditional ads.

The content brand, on the other hand, comes from the opposite angle, creating a story based on the interests and needs of your audience, and then building a rapport. This shift in attitude is the reason advertising budgets are being eaten into by content marketing. By the way I realise I used the words ‘branded digital content’ in the title of that linked piece. It was written before Mr Pulizzi declared the phrase abhorrent and I have since found absolution.

Client first, company second

Anyway, the point is that the Joe Pulizzi piece tried to take the jargon out of marketing; it said, simply, focus on the customer. And in 2015, that was more true than ever. We as an industry don’t even really want to talk about ‘content’ any longer. We continue to do so for lack of a better word, but this was the year content marketing grew up; it was the year that forward-looking brands put aside the more technical aspects of the messages they put out and focused on the holistic, value-driven reasons for doing so. It was the year that brands began to create content that benefits the client first, not the company.

They asked: Does my messaging help someone? Does it offer value? Is it relevant? Does it inspire confidence in me as a company? And does it do right?

Reflecting this, search engines’ approach to ranking factors this year truly took a turn towards non-technical factors, focusing instead on the user experience. The so-called ‘Mobilegeddon’ was less an apocalypse and more an acknowledgement by the likes of Google that a large contingent of internet searchers are using their mobiles more than their laptops.

It’s somewhat ironic that under that logic writing this Christmas-themed article about being positive with your digital marketing message is both holistically poignant, and technically pointless. I want to send out a positive Christmas message, but I shouldn’t do it just to hijack the online buzz about Christmas. I should do it because I want to promote and inspire positivity in online marketing. To be fair, in this case I can do both, but that’s testament to my tenacity as an online writer, obviously. And my point still stands.

Much of all this is rooted in addressing the Millennial need

Brand did good

The point is this year companies did good. Brands want to be seen to be doing good and customers want to feel confident that their own do-gooder side is satisfied. Investors need it, too. Much of all this is rooted in addressing the Millennial need as the newer generation slowly usurps the older; in February, Morgan Stanley reported that 87% of Millennial investors were twice as likely as investors overall to make investment decisions based on sustainability efforts. It’s the pressure of a positive and healthy image directly affecting the bottom line that is currently driving this digital economy.

Demonstrating oneself to be mindful also extends to recruitment content marketing – Millennials want to make an impact and recruitment content needs to reflect this. According to Escape The City, 64% of Millennials want to make a positive social impact in the job they choose.

Demonstrating oneself to be mindful also extends to recruitment content marketing

Shell’s positive recruitment

Indeed, this year in our own work with Shell Recruitment we’ve spent considerable time promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Shell is absolutely committed to encouraging diversity among its employees because it feels people perform at their best when they can be their true selves in the workplace; it’s what matters most to potential new recruits just as it does to customers. It matters that women wanting to work in science and engineering careers, people with disabilities, people from minority backgrounds and people of a differing sexual orientation are all offered equal opportunities, and Shell makes a concerted effort to support that goal.

In other words, being human

Have a mindful 2016

Good will breeds good will. Sustainability, mindfulness – in other words, being human – are at the heart of why content marketing has come of age this year. Some don’t want to believe it, but fundamentally people, whether they’re customers, investors or employees need to know that the companies they’re involved with share their values. We want others to do unto us as we would do to them.

So there we go, if you want a message to bring with you into 2016, it’s quite simple, stay positive. Good will to all mankind – that’s how you do a Christmas-themed article. It was either that or write something loosely connected to Star Wars. But, just like that, I’ve done both. One stone, two birds…something, something, turtle doves.


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