On Wednesday we all had to come to terms with the fact that, unfortunately, football’s not coming home in 2018. However, let’s not forget how it felt when, for just a few glorious weeks, the England boys gave us a golden glimpse of real, tangible hope. And many would say it’s thanks to hero-of-the-moment Gareth Southgate, he who took the helm and steered the England team to the biggest World Cup success they’ve had since New Kids on the Block were in the charts.

I may not be as obsessed with Gareth Southgate as some fans – M&S reportedly ran out of waistcoats recently as Brits rushed to get the Gareth look – but I like the cut of the man’s jib. In fact, there are a fair few winning qualities I see in him that are highly reminiscent of those essential to winning content. Perhaps content marketers looking to spruce up their campaigns ought to take a leaf out of the England manager’s book and ask themselves: what would Gareth do?

How to win at content – tips from Gareth

Be consistent with your personal brand

As previously mentioned, Gareth knows how to rock a sharp waistcoat or two. However, he also went a bit ‘Queer Eye’ on the England squad for their official team photos, rejecting the old national kit in favour of natty suits from (you guessed it) M&S. In this way, Gareth re-branded the England team, ensuring their look was consistent with his personal brand. The new style told the world that with Gareth steering the ship, the team are considered, professional and controlled. In short, they mean business.

Be principled

It didn’t surprise me one iota when Eric Paylor described Gareth as a ‘deeply principled man’ who ‘does things in the right manner, setting standards for the people around him’. Despite past grievances – you know the penalty I’m thinking of – he’s been a respected, seasoned player and manager for many a year, with none of the drama or scandal that has surrounded others in the business.

When it comes to your content marketing, authenticity and ethics are everything in the current climate. The modern consumer likes to feel good about the brands they buy from – interest in ethical products and brands is rising – yet only 52% of global consumers trust businesses. Ensuring your content is authentic to the core and shows you stand for something will go a long way in the hearts and heads of your audience.

Be resilient

Though he might well be mild-mannered and unfailingly polite on the surface, Gareth Southgate has a steely determination at his core. How else could one spring back from that agonising penalty during England’s semi-final loss to Germany at Euro ’96? Resilient people show grit, the ability to adapt, move on and not give up, even in the fact of overwhelming odds.

In this age of content saturation, it takes determination to forge ahead with your content strategy, take risks and find out what works for your brand. Unfortunately, content marketing isn’t a quick fix that yields overnight results – a problem for impatient brands that want to hop quickly and easily on the ‘content is king’ bandwagon.

Bear in mind that content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing yet generates 3x as many leads, small businesses with blogs get 126% more lead growth than small businesses without, and businesses publishing 16+ posts a month get almost 3.5 times more traffic than businesses publishing zero to four articles – all according to the Content Marketing Institute. Content marketing works – you just need the resilience and strategy of Gareth Southgate, in order to reap the benefits.

Be someone your audience can depend on.

In a world of Trumps, Mays and Brexit, Gareth Southgate’s calm, empathic and down-to-earth is what the people need. His waistcoat looks like it could hold a few tissues to wipe your post-World Cup defeat tears away and his quiet confidence gives us hope of a better future – perhaps one where Kane and co get to hold that cup aloft. A man who can lead England to the quarter finals is categorically not – as noted in a recent Grazia article – the kind of man who would spend all the council tax money on a new Playstation. He is a man you can depend on.

To grow and cement your audience with your content marketing, you need to position your brand as an industry leader – one which your audience can depend on. Your content needs to cut through the cacophony to deliver real value – after all, a third of B2B buyers reported removing a company from consideration based on poor thought leadership output, according to a study by Edelman, and 83% of actual buyers believe thought leadership builds trust in their organisation. Be that brand people can turn to – be more like Gareth.

For help with all your content marketing needs, from strategy and creation to social media management, contact our winning team at M2 Bespoke.

Ben Hollom

July 13, 2018