In part one, I discussed the role of content marketing, which I defined as a long-term process for creating and distributing valuable content to attract, engage, and acquire a particular target audience.
However, the question remains – who utilizes content marketing and how?
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Recognizing that an increase in sales or marketing efforts doesn’t necessarily result in more customers, some companies have found innovative ways to create a following that revolves around its company culture; one that is responsive to its customer’s interests, pursuits and/or lifestyle. The company listens to its customers, and the customers, in turn, feel they are part of the company.
- Think of John Deere’s magazine The Furrow, which has been in publication since 1895. It’s not trying to sell farmer Ag equipment; it’s providing really useful advice to farmers.
- Thinkorswim’s (now owned by the TD Ameritrade Group) thinkMoney magazine captured the quirky attitudes of the TOS culture, which resonated well with its customers. It provides lots of information on markets, trading, and other eccentric content that made customers want to read it, if not for the educational info, then for the sheer pleasure of its entertaining humor and quirkiness.
- Charmin sells toilet paper. How do you build a culture around that? Well, you can’t really, but you can build a following based on another critical need: the need to find public restrooms when you are on the go. Charmin’s Sit or Squat app does just that. Can’t find a public restroom? Use the app to find the nearest one. Thanks Charmin! This has nothing to do with selling toilet paper, but what a great service.
- Despite the recent debacle with FXCM, which brokerage provides a better and more comprehensive education resource than Daily FX? How many FX traders wouldn’t want to check in with the experts on Daily FX, particularly new traders? How many clients or professionals use and share Daily FX information, spreading further FXCM’s status as an industry leader?
- Warby Parker. They sell cool and hip eyewear. They’ve got a somewhat eccentric yet successful blog. It expresses the company’s attitude through fun and humorous infographics, info on art and literature, funky personality tests (recommending ideal reading lists for customers), customer photo contributions, and much more.
These are just a few examples, but they have one thing in common: each company publishes material aimed at enhancing customer’s interests and pursuits. They are not advertisements, but a means of expanding the way a customer perceives, utilizes, and participates in a company’s enterprise.
If you want a long-term relationship with your customers, a one-way conversation in which you are always selling them something or talking about yourself is not the way to do it. Why not try enhancing their lifestyles, personal interests, or professional pursuits? Perhaps it’s time to start thinking like a publisher. Whatever you decide to offer, if you decide to offer something, it can be made to reflect your company attitude—and the attitudes of your customers. It’s completely yours, and it differentiates you from your competitors.