The recipe for great content marketing: a spoonful of practicality and a dash of aspiration

The return of The Great British Bake Off shows the power of aspirational content

Up and down the country, the first episode in the new series of The Great British Bake Off signalled a wave of discussion around favourite contestants and mouth-watering recipes.

10.4 million people tuned in – almost 50% of all people watching TV while the show was on.

As well as being a televisual phenomenon, the show encapsulates how content can serve multiple purposes at once and provides a timely reminder of what engaging content can achieve.

Theoretically, cookery shows provide tips and recipe information; but in reality more people enjoy them for their escapism and aspirational quality.

Television cookery shows take up over 400 hours of broadcasting time a week in the UK, including repeats and constant coverage from channels such as the Food Network. Led by GBBO, sales of items like food mixers and common cooking ingredients are up. A Waitrose survey last year showed that 19% of people bake at least once a week – over half say they bake more often than five years ago.

But equally, the amount of time we spend cooking has decreased. The average time spent preparing an evening meal is down to 34 minutes, around half what it was in the 1980s. This strongly suggests people see TV cookery shows as aspirational, not practical.

Find the balance

Content marketers must consider the content they’re producing and commissioning, and where on that spectrum it fits.

In the world of television chefs, a clear example of someone providing both practical and aspirational content would be Nigella Lawson. Her cookbooks have practical information like ‘the perfect boiled egg and toast’ all within the aspirational overview of ‘How to be a domestic goddess’.

The same rules can be applied to whatever your field of expertise. If you work at an accountancy firm, for example, the practical content of ‘Five tips for filling in your tax return’ will be a vital resource for your audience. At the same time, the audience of professional people working in finance is likely to be highly interested in aspirational content such as ‘The secrets to delivering a great TED talk’.

An electric connection

One firm that has enjoyed much acclaim for its innovative approach to content marketing is the American multinational General Electric (GE).

Through a wide-ranging approach to content marketing, driven by a highly engaging social media presence, GE has gained a large following across multiple channels.

The company website hosts practical content such as videos from current apprentices, while its Instagram account focuses on the aspirational – their 244,000 followers interact with broad science-based wonders.

The company is ensuring that it embraces many different platforms to drive engagement and attract a new audience, such as the ever-growing world of podcasts. Its twice-monthly podcast, GE Energy Connections, features guests from the energy sector around the world in 15-30 minute conversations with a host.

A sense of belonging

Many instances of successful content marketing provide practical information as well as fulfilling a sense of aspiration.

Consider content marketing as building a community and try to provide a range of content accordingly. A community means an inherent sense of belonging and loyalty.

General Electric and The Great British Bake Off both succeed by knowing the type of content their audience requires.

So work out what your audience wants. For every ‘Five steps to…’ guide, consider a ‘Five secrets to…’ post as well.

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