“Traditional marketing and advertising is telling the world you’re a rock star. Content Marketing is showing the world that you are one.” -Robert Rose
Content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers without selling. It’s non-intrusive marketing. The old model of interruption has given way to the even older model of building relationships between brands and consumers.
Instead of pitching your products and services, deliver information that makes your buyers more intelligent, with the belief that they will reward you with their loyalty.
Cause marketing is often about behavior modification rather than brand loyalty, but the same principles apply. A picture is worth a thousand words, and this anti-smoking poster is a powerful image of what cigarettes can do to your lungs. It’s instantly affecting and delivers information in a compelling way.
Speak to the highest common denominator of your audience. Don’t patronize your customers. Assume they know as much or more than you do. Don’t dummy it down.
Sometimes marketers overthink the message and over-explain the products and services they’re promoting. While “K.I.S.S.” is still the best rule of thumb for message strategy, that doesn’t mean your target audience is “simple” minded. Some of the most iconic advertising in history incorporates shared archetypal references that are sophisticated yet accessible. Consider Apple’s celebrated “1984” Macintosh commercial, an early example of content marketing. The brand references are not overt. The spot only aired once, during Super Bowl XVIII . An allusion to George Orwell’s futuristic novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, the commercial was not low-brow fare. It spoke directly to the non-conformist early adopters of technology, Apple’s primary target audience.
Integrate your marketing message across multiple channels – no silo communications. Marketing is a relationship, so be where your customers are, online and offline.
Because the visual narrative is most easily accessible, web video is a natural vehicle for content marketing. Showing real people doing real things, communicating in an authentic, unscripted way speaks volumes for your brand. Take Tombras client Food City’s “Local Growers”web video series, uploaded to YouTube and circulated via social networks including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. By letting Albert Coning talk in his own words about his farm, Food City informs the viewer about the process of buying local and creates a folk hero at the same time. Coning’s reputation is at stake in his watermelon, cantaloupe and tomatoes. Food City doesn’t have to scream about freshness or quality. Coning speaks for himself, and there’s a halo effect for the family-owned grocery store that carries his farm-to-table produce.
Content marketing isn’t new. It’s the essence of effective public relations and strategic brand management. Showing consumers your products and services in context is where word-of-mouth begins. That’s always been true. What’s new is the amplification. If your message resonates in social media, it goes viral. In his seminal “Content Is King” article written in 1996, Bill Gates described the Internet as “a marketplace of ideas, experiences, and products – a marketplace of content.”
Content – compelling content – is still king.
Laura Bower is Senior Vice President and Director of Public Relations and Social Media for The Tombras Group.