RIBA Insight Monthly Briefing

Content marketing – what's the issue?

"Your customers don't care about you, your products, your services... They care about themselves, their wants and their needs. Content marketing is about creating interesting information your customers are passionate about so they actually pay attention to you." This is a quote from US marketing guru David Meerman Scott, and he is writing about the attention we're all vying for.

In an industry where our only differentiating factor is often the experts and creative minds that work for us, companies are increasingly turning to content marketing to get their voices and ideas heard. In Content Marketing Institute's (CMI) 'Content Marketing in the UK' 2017 annual survey it found that 87% of UK marketers surveyed use content marketing. This proportion of overall marketing strategy is growing year on year but we're still in the early stages of making content marketing a sophisticated and successful process, with integration across our organisations.

For content marketing success, follow these five steps:

Step 1: Be specific

The client issue is at the heart of all content marketing. This is the attention-grabbing hook that will lead to showcasing your expertise and innovation. Think hard about the single most important issue that a client needs help with. The more specific you are, the better, and more useful the article will be – maximising your chances of reaching influential, time-poor professionals.

Step 2: Be punchy

85% of marketers in CMI's survey attributed content marketing success to higher quality content creation. Make it easy for readers to get to the heart of the story. Keep it short and punchy, ideally no longer than 750 words and broken into sections which are ideal for digital formats. Avoid jargon and long descriptions, and, where possible, add in facts and figures to support your story. A succinct and well-focused article will help ensure that clients come back for more.

Step 3: Be resourceful

Creating content takes both marketing and our technical expert's time. To get best use from your content, make sure every piece forms part of an integrated marketing campaign. This way it can be built into plans for conferences and client events, for internal communications and external communications including social media, making it accessible and reusable across the marketing mix.

Producing online and mobile-friendly content is also key – smartphones and apps are becoming the dominant way in which most of our customer's access content. AECOM's Without Limits app is the first of its kind within our industry and our complementary website launched in April 2017, seeing an impressive 25,000 visits to the site within the first month, and enquiries from genuine potential clients with specific projects they wanted to discuss.

Step 4: Be strategic

Creating content for contents sake is not a winner for anyone – make sure your content plan is targeted to drive growth across your business, linking it to specific pursuits or clients that you want to generate leads with in the industry to get the best return on your investment. CMI's survey identified that 82% of marketers will focus on lead generation as a content marketing goal over the next 12 months.

Step 5: Be bold

Getting construction professionals to embrace these principals of content marketing will require a change in mindset. By nature engineers are used to being experts within their field, telling clients what they are able to do, but to understand specific client issues we need them to listen and hear what the client's problems are. Making it easy for readers to get to the heart of the story is also not dumbing down – clients want to assimilate this information quickly and clearly, with the option to get in touch direct for more information.

Changing these behaviours will gradually start to reflect well on the sector as a whole, slowly changing the image of the construction industry. If you're able to demonstrate pockets of content marketing success then influencing this change becomes easy.

So, what's the issue with content marketing? The answer is that it's the client's issues we need to focus on.

AECOM's Without Limits thought leadership platform is an evolution of the See Further series which was winner of the Content Marketing award at the 2016 Construction Marketing Awards.

More information

Author Emily Dearman is Marketing & Strategy Manager, Water, EMIA, AECOM and also a committee member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing Construction Industry Group (CIMCIG).


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