Brand Tales speaks with an Australian content marketing pioneer.
C raig Hodges founded King Content in 2010 and became its CEO after the company was bought by Isentia* in 2015. The business won multiple awards, including Content Marketing Agency of the Year in 2012, and had offices in the UK, US, Asia and Australia. Hodges has been in the content marketing business longer than most and is bullish about the future of quality content in Australia and the region.
Brand Tales: Can you give us a quick rundown of your career?
Craig Hodges: I’ve been in the content game since the ’90s. I was lucky enough to get involved with a crazy company called Spike, and I ended up running the commercial side of the business in the US. It was an internet radio station, well before its time, and focused on really good content. So we were doing a whole bunch of native back then, which wasn’t called “native”. I came back to Sydney just after the [dotcom] crash and ended up at a company called Edge, which is still running. I left in 2010 to set up King Content.
BT: What have you learnt about the content business since then?
Hodges: It’s had a few twists and turns. At the end of the day, what I’ve learned is that it’s got to be quality. Too many people spend too much time producing so much content without a real direction or real reason.
BT: Which businesses are doing content well?
Hodges: Netflix is a hardcore media company producing great content. The Airbnb magazine’s pretty cool. I love the risks Red Bull takes for a soft drink company. Closer to home, we were lucky enough to be involved with The Blue Room that Bupa pulled together. I was really really excited around the directional change they made from a marketing perspective. They stopped talking about product and price and started talking about life stages. It was a really big leap for them and it paid off.
BT: How does a cash-strapped business ensure it does content the right way?
Hodges: Every business owner knows their business, so start talking about it. Start writing about it. How much does it cost, other than time, to produce a blog? It’s about being consistent, and it’s about adding value. Too many people take for granted the relationship between customer and proprietor. You’ve got to add value to the mix if you want them to part with their money.
BT: What do you think is the future of content marketing in Australia?
Hodges: I’d think we’ve just scratched the surface, to be brutally honest. I think the quality of the work coming out of here is on par with any other market on the planet. There’s some really good stuff, there’s some really good agencies. There’s some really good brands doing some really interesting stuff in content marketing. Just because the US and UK are bigger and have bigger budgets doesn’t mean it’s better.
BT: But there’s still some way to go, isn’t there?
Hodges: A lot of segments of the market haven’t woken up to content marketing yet. All of the B2C brands are taking their time getting on board. It’s always the usual subjects like the banks and tech companies that jump in first. We haven’t seen pharma, we haven’t seen FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) yet. We haven’t seen auto. I think the market’s going to be double the size in a couple of years.
BT: What percentage of King Content’s work comes out of Australia?
Hodges: It’s still the majority.
BT: How strong is the Asian scene?
Hodges: You’ve got multiple markets over there that have varying levels of maturity. Singapore’s very advanced – a lot of agencies, highly competitive. Hong Kong, not so much. In Australia, we’re getting a lot of agencies rolling around now but there’s still a lot of work – enough for all. If you’re producing good quality work, and you’ve got good strategists and good thinking and good processes, and a focus on ROI, you’re going to do fine.
Postscript: In October 2017, Isentia killed the King Content brand and got out of the content marketing business. Analysts said the media monitoring company had no feel for the high-touch content business, and was always going to find it difficult to recoup the price it paid in 2015.