An interview with Aldo Gnocchi: content marketing explained in simple terms

A woman with a smartphone in town

A woman with a smartphone in town

An interview with Aldo Gnocchi Content marketing explained in simple terms

Published on 29.09.22 by Yannick Küffer, Digital Commerce Consultant, Post CH Ltd

Retailers have various options when using marketing measures to position themselves on the market. One of these is to develop a custom content marketing strategy. In this case, high-quality content is a unique selling point and the key to success. But what is content marketing and what do companies have to consider when using it? Aldo Gnocchi, lecturer in digital marketing at the FHNW and owner of content marketing agency Gnocchi/Digital Marketing, provides answers to our questions.

What exactly is content marketing, how would you explain it in simple terms?

Content marketing is the art of marketing without selling directly – it is an indirect process. Unlike classic marketing, content marketing does not focus on the products, features or benefits, but on users and their needs. It is based on the creation of valuable and relevant content aimed at solving users problems. Instead of praising the company or the services and products it offers, an attempt is made to solve specific problems and put user needs in the foreground – using the content published by the company for this purpose.

In the context of present day problems resulting from information overload and fake news, it’s extremely important to seek direct communication with customers, to build trust and to become a relevant source of information for your own specialist areas or services. This makes companies a relevant and trustworthy source of information.

Which core principles should you follow to create a successful content marketing strategy?

The key principle is knowing who the service is intended for. This can be a product, a service or a combination of the two. In practice, many companies fail because they don’t define their target groups specifically enough. It’s difficult to provide a suitable solution if you don’t know your customers or ask them exactly what they want. This is one of the major problems.

You should consider what core competencies the company can offer in order to provide the ideal solution to satisfy customer needs. You have to define clear goals. Your strategy should also define which channels are to be used to reach your target groups. Only then should you go on to determine your core topics (topic clusters).

The question of organization is important in order to implement content marketing strategically, tactically and operationally. How should we position ourselves, what skills and competencies do we need? Processes and tools are important when building a clean setting. This is the only way to address the question of resources (human and financial).

Prioritizing is the be-all and end-all in a content marketing strategy. Reduce your strategy to the essentials and ensure that you are above-average in those prioritized areas. So don’t try to do everything, just do the right things well.

What goals can we achieve through content marketing?

Before talking about goals, it’s important to know the company’s direction and strategic approach. These can then be used to extrapolate specific goals. It’s impossible to give a definitive list of goals – the applications of content marketing for companies are too diverse.

One option is to use branding as a strategic approach or direction – i.e. to use good content to communicate brand values and to underpin brand attributes.

Another approach could be customer relationship management, which means maintaining dialogue with relevant stakeholders. This can be done via social media but also via other touchpoints where you are in contact with customers.

It’s also possible to implement innovative approaches using content marketing. Open innovation can be implemented via crowdsourcing and by developing various solutions from online communities.

But we also shouldn’t rule out sales – i.e. identifying new potential customers and converting them into actual customers over the course of their customer journey. Leads are generated, then qualified and passed on from marketing to sales.

What are the most common mistakes that people make in content marketing?

Here too, a clear strategy is decisive. Without a strategy, your activities often end up being too operational. This results in measures that have nothing to do with your strategy or with achieving objectives, but which are directed purely from within.

Content is often prepared or published in a way that’s neither suitable for the target group nor geared to the core topics of the company. Publishing this kind of content makes little sense. The measures often serve neither the company nor the intended target group.

Another common mistake is that companies want to do content marketing but have neither the required budget nor the resources to do so. As a rule, this is never successful. And for many, the potential for frustration is great.

How work-intensive is effective content marketing?

That’s not so easy to answer unless you know the strategy of the company in question. A huge number of factors come into play here. One important question, for example, is whether communication needs to be monolingual or multilingual. Publication frequency, the level of ambition of communications (premium content vs. basic content), static content or moving images, etc.

Other factors influencing an investment in content marketing include the company’s goals, ambitions and its existing developments in the area of content marketing (i.e. is there existing content or will you be starting from zero?). So the workload depends on the context.

Content has the major disadvantage that it is work intensive, which means that it can also be cost intensive to a certain extent. Of course, there are an increasing number of AI tools that can help in this respect. However, the texts they generate are rather technical and not suited to creating a more emotional connection with the reader. AI-generated storytelling content often does not compare with content from good storytellers. It can be cheaper, but the impact on the intended target groups usually falls well short. However, artificial intelligence tools will evolve over time. We can expect to see content become cheaper and scalable as a result.

Should a medium-sized company do its own content marketing or hire a specialist?

Over the last 15 years we have found that you need a good mix. You need at least one person in the company who is extremely familiar with the content and topics of the company. That person should act as a point of contact and remain in direct communication with the agency.

But you can’t expect just one person in the company to handle content marketing while the rest is done externally. Many large and medium-sized companies have personnel policies that provide few internal human resources for content marketing, while implementing as much as possible in a flexible and scalable manner via external service providers. Experience shows that a mix of internal and external (i.e. internal and external service providers who understand the company), often perform better together than if everything is implemented either internally or externally. The resulting perspectives are more reflective and comprehensive.

Which tools can be used for content marketing?

To ensure success, it makes sense to use collaborative tools (project management, editorial planning, approval processes, social media management, analytics, reporting, etc.). Which tool is more effective always depends on your IT policy. Some companies can choose from a variety of tools before deciding on the right one. In large companies, IT is often heavily involved, so there are specifications governing which tools are even considered.

A crucial factor when choosing a tool is its usability for all people involved. The tool should be usable both internally and externally. Enabling central mapping in a single tool so that all components of the marketing strategy can be combined afterwards is also recommended.

But the costs incurred by the tools must also be taken into account, of course. Many companies are unwilling to spend 20,000 or even 100,000 francs just for tool licenses.

That means you have to find a compromise. There are many ways to ensure collaboration – the costs vary greatly.

Are you planning a new online shop or want to optimize an existing one?

We’ll gladly support you on your path – either from the starting line to the end, or only on a certain stretch of the journey. Put your trust in our many years’ experience and our proven consulting services.

Aldo Gnocchi

Aldo Gnocchi is an early adopter, technology enthusiast, Swiss content marketing and social media expert. He’s the person to ask about developing digital marketing strategies. As a lecturer in digital marketing, he passes on his expertise and experience to students (training and further education) and organizations at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW).

Portrait Aldo Gnocchi

Yannick Küffer – Interviewer

Yannick Küffer is a Digital Commerce Consultant at Swiss Post’s Digital Commerce Competence Center. In this role, he supports retailer customers in developing their level of digital maturity by providing strategic advice relating to digitization and designing solutions.

Portrait Yannick Kueffer

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