Are you evaluating your business marketing strategies and planning for the next quarter or the next year? Taking a good look at your current strategies and campaigns is always wise - then it may be time to look at how to further your business with new strategies.
Content marketing strategies are becoming more and more popular, but it can be a whole shift in philosophy for some businesses.
What is Content Marketing?
Keith Makenzie has written a great article on just this question and sums it up very nicely:
You Are Invited!
This is one way to answer the question; “What is content marketing?” It’s an invitation rather than an imposition. The content marketer presents the brand as a friend and helps the consumer feel confident about his choice of purchase. The consumer is allowed to tend to his own devices in making a decision. No more fine print and forced sales.
That’s the beauty of it—an approach that lures in the consumer without actually luring them in. Convincing the consumer without actively convincing them. Promoting to the consumer without directly promoting to them. Yes, some may call this subliminal messaging—it is in a way, because, unless you’re living in a cave, you know that revenue always will be a major driver behind running a successful marketing campaign. Yet the message remains the same: It’s about who’s in the driver’s seat. Be it in original programming or pay-as-you-go cell phones, the consumer—not the company—is at the wheel. And content marketing is a way to convince them of that.
The Netflix approach is just one example, and it’s hardly the first—let alone last—of its kind. Nowadays, content marketing is everywhere, even in areas where you wouldn’t have thought to be relevant to modern-day marketing, such as baseball cards and even the Sistine Chapel.
When you start to imagine just how content marketing could actually be part of the next steps in your own business marketing, looking at examples of how businesses are already using content to build relationships is a great place to start.
We live in a world where content, ads, commercials, sales and choices are thrown at us on a daily, hourly or minute-by-minute basis. So how does your business embody the content marketing philosophy and where do you start? Well, we think starting with your own employees and how they approach customers is a great place to start. Then look at how you're reaching new customers and the avenues you're using to get more leads.
Keith Makenzie shares three “real life” examples of content marketing in his blog article. This one describes a local small business’s take on how it approaches marketing and sales:
THE SHOE-STORE EXPERIENCE
Generation Xers will remember fondly the brilliant marketing campaigns by Nike in the 1980s and 1990s, bringing in Michael Jordan (as himself) and Spike Lee (as Mars Blackmon) and producing entertaining 30-second advertisements that didn’t actually tell you to buy its shoes. Instead, it reeled you in with cool, funny stories. That’s another good example of content marketing.
Let’s add another layer to the way different companies present themselves and their products in the shoe industry. Say you go to a big-box sports store—one of those with ubiquitous locations all over the United States, Europe, and elsewhere. As soon as you walk in, you’re bombarded with “20 percent off!” and two-for-one ads around the store, and the students stocking the shelves don’t seem to know much about shoes—only that they think “these shoes” are the right ones and; “Would you like to try them on?”
Because you haven’t quite decided on what you’re looking for, you leave the store slightly perturbed, tail between your legs, and shoeless, despite the fact that they had a killer Black Friday sale on. What’s more, you swear the staff wrinkled their noses at you when you exited through the automatic doors without buying anything.
Later that day, you go to a boutique running-shoe store in your neighborhood, and within minutes of walking in, you find yourself involved in a fantastic conversation with one of the staff members about running as an activity you both love. You find a common interest, a shared passion. He tells you about this amazing running trail in the nearby forest, and how you ought to try it out before it gets too cold. You then tell him about the Boston Marathon and how you’re trying to make the qualifying time, and he nods, genuinely wide-eyed with encouragement and interest.
Finally, the topic goes to the shoes themselves—he loves “these shoes here” because they’re comfy and they’re great on unpaved trails, but Jeff, his coworker over by the cash register, likes “those ones” because he prefers running in the city streets in the evenings after work. You nod to Jeff and he nods back with a thumbs up. Mutual respect between runners.
Next thing you know, you’ve just bought yourself an awesome pair of running shoes and you feel great in them. The guys at the store make you promise to return in a few weeks to tell them how you like your new shoes, and you think you will definitely go back. And it doesn’t matter that you spent considerably more on this pair than you would have at the heavily discounted big-box store earlier that morning.
Why? Because you liked these guys. They knew what they were talking about and they shared your excitement for running. They let you make a decision, and not once—not even once—did they make you feel like you really ought to buy something to avoid the guilty stroll back out of the store. In fact, they seemed to care about you, the person. They became your friends for a little while, inviting you into their realm and making you feel like you were one of them.
So, do you see now how natural content marketing can be for your business? As consumers we are experiencing content marketing without even realizing it. Do you watch Netflix? Do you subscribe to a company magazine? Have you noticed companies who sponsor events? For more examples of content marketing and what it might look like in your business, read more of Keith’s blog at Skyword.com.
If you're curious about how your business can start down the path of using inbound and content marketing in your business strategies, contact us to see how we can help!
Since 2002, Half a Bubble Out has been dedicated to providing marketing, advertising, and small business consulting that meet the needs of our clients. We specialize in powerfully telling stories through Inbound Marketing to grow your business filled with more passion and provision. Based in Chico California, we serve clients throughout Northern California and across the country to New York.