Mark DeVito has been in the business of creating compelling content for much of his career,
starting with traditional forms like television and music videos. Now, as President of Bates Creative, he delivers digital strategy, branding, campaign, and collateral solutions that start with their clients’ mission and build into customized experiences.
We discuss what’s needed to create compelling content in today’s digital environment: doing your audience research, deeply understanding your client’s brand, and being agile.
20 years ago, producers and directors didn’t think of themselves as content creators, and they weren’t necessarily thinking about branding.
Unbeknownst to Mark at the time, he was creating strategically branded programming for fledgling networks and, quickly, becoming a brand strategist, alongside with being a content developer and producer.
He inherently understood the importance of content development being ‘brand-driven’ vs. fun and entertainment-driven, based on one’s own perspective. This notion of having a strong creative ideology coupled with being brand-driven is what guides his content agency today.
Content that Creates a Connection
Today, you need the right content to be produced for the right audience, which means you need to understand, very specifically, who you're producing that content for.
It’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all environment, so it’s paramount that we don’t play copycat – “then we’re just contributing to the mass amount of unwanted content, unwanted data, and the inundation that we all feel every day.”
The reality is that digital media has created a pause-free content creation schedule for many companies, but there is the need to pause; it’s imperative to think about how your core audience will like that content, and to test it.
Content strategy and implementation
The importance of data, being agile and having the right talent
Developing an effective content strategy involves utilizing relevant data that can inform and generate good decisions and good perspectives, especially when even going into creative brainstorming.
While we can't be slaves to the data, and we can't use it to make every decision, it is especially useful when you are “versioning” your content, or creating hyper customized content for specific audiences so that they want to engage more.
Companies also need to ensure that they are able to pivot dynamically while aligning to customer needs and interests because their brand is also evolving with the changing business landscape and ongoing influx of insights and information.
To get there you also have to have the right talent that can align brand understanding, business strategy, and creativity – that’s when great content can be produced.
Good creativity comes from within. You can’t just copy what other brands are doing because then you’re just contributing to the inundation that we all feel every day with the tidal wave of new things that get released.
To create a compelling content strategy, you have to think about everything around your company’s brand. Building that strategy requires doing your research and analysis and getting the necessary insights from the data, which leads to identifying what’s relevant for your audience.
This will ultimately guide the development of the customized content because, often, there isn’t any real versioning. And when we are able to hyper customize content for specific audiences, they will want to engage even more.
Aligning everyone around the right content goals is also necessary, as that has been an inhibitor to forward momentum and delivery success. It means having people who understand both the business and creative side.
The business decision makers may not be content creators, and they may not understand what content best addresses their objectives. It’s only when you have the right talent that understands the infusion of both those sides that great content can be produced.
To sustain strategic momentum in building the right content, you have to take a more ‘layered approach’ - think about all of the different audiences and how the content needs to be explored for all the different ways that you want people to engage strategically with your brands.
To create a content strategy that is dynamic and layered, consider the time, effort, expense, people, and approach to each one of those strategic endeavors, at each level and layer of your content strategy process. Start with a baseline. See how that resonates. Then explore more. Then and only then will you really have a strategic approach and a way forward
To help organizations be agile when it comes to content development, the agency/content development partner has to work with their clients.
When an agency intimately understands a brand, and knows the direction it's going in, they can proactively and dynamically help the brand pivot towards something more engaging.
Connect with Mark on LinkedIn
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