If digital marketing is where the industry is headed, content marketing will be it’s bread and butter, so to speak. With the use of a creative campaign, any small company can make a name for itself, and any large company can solidify it’s place in the market.
Content marketing ties together several different aspects of inbound marketing, and is one of the biggest parts of an inbound marketing campaign. Creating a promotional piece that is entirely unique to a company is one of the hallmark traits of content marketing. “But how would that be different from a regular ad campaign?” you may be thinking. Just hold on sir and/or madame. Allow me to explain.
In the past when a company created a new product (let’s go with gloves for a cat), they would put the product in stores, slap a few ads on TV where they thought people who would buy their product would see it, and call things good.
Boom, instant money.
This isn’t necessarily how things work nowadays. Now, if a company has a new product or idea, they can go online and create something that separates themselves from the competition entirely.
For example, Conflict Kitchen is a restaurant that changes their menu based on who the United States is in a conflict with currently. This small restaurant in Pittsburgh has made a name for itself by creating wrappers that go on their food that give information about the featured country. Currently, they are focusing on North Korea, and their wrappers are based on interviews conducted with North Korean defectors. You should go check them out.
“But that’s not even an online company. How is that related to digital marketing?” you may be thinking in an accusatory tone. Get ready to have your mind explode.
Digital marketing can interact with the real world.
Well said Keann, well said.
Yes, digital marketing campaigns can interact with the real world. While blogs are a common form of content marketing, there are others that give power to the consumer. My Starbucks Idea is a website that was set up by Starbucks that allows customers to submit ideas for new drinks and foodstuffs to perhaps be made at the Starbucks nearest you (or one of the 5-6 Starbucks nearest you, depending where you live). This might seem like a PR stunt, where products are thought of by users, but none of them ever available to buy.
Quite the contrary.
Over it’s five year life, 277 ideas have come from the site, and available to buy. My Starbucks Idea is one of the best examples of a content marketing campaign. It created a customer-centered platform where Starbucks enthusiasts could get together and come up with new ideas for their favorite purveyor of caffeinated beverages. The community can then vote on the ideas, and decide if it’s “good” or not, and then the people in charge of creating Starbucks’ menu decides if it is a good idea, and if so, if it can even be made. This is an extremely effective tool. It shows that Starbucks does indeed listen to it’s customers, it lets them create product ideas for them, and then they buy the product. How that even be considered bad for a company?
Another fantastic piece of content marketing comes from Charmin. Yes… that Charmin. Toilet paper can be cool too. Their app, dubbed “Sit or Squat” uses the GPS capabilities of your phone to find nearby public restrooms. It then displays all of the nearby ones. But, what if you were to go to one of these bathrooms, and it was absolutely disgusting?
In that case, you must have been using a knock-off app, because Sit or Squat has a an integrated 5-star rating system, the ability to update “features” in the bathroom, such as changing stations, and even write a review of the bathroom if you are so inclined. Some of the features, such as writing a review does require a membership, but signing up is free. When the app was initially released, it received generally positive reviews.
In preparation for this blog post, I went on to the site and tried to gain access. However, you need to link it with your Facebook account, something that seems a bit strange to me, and I’d rather not do. However, I imagine that in the two years since it’s release, there have been a ton of updates to the site, as well as the app. Yes, there is an app that tells you where the nearest clean public bathroom is. Yet another thing we can add to the list that Seinfeld predicted.
One of the most recent, successful campaigns is McDonald’s Canada’s “Our Food, Your Questions” program. the gist of this program is McDonald’s Canada will answer any question that is related to it’s food. If a question about another subject is asked, the person who asked it will be redirected to the appropriate section of the McDonald’s website. Why is this such a success? Well, for one, out of the 16,000 questions already asked, McDonald’s has answered about 10,000 of them. That’s pretty good for a huge corporation like McDonald’s.
More importantly however, this campaign shows how McDonald’s Canada is trying to be more transparent. There is an option to “follow” a question, and be notified when it is answered. It is a program that educates the public on their products, and allows for any question to be asked, and it will probably be answered. You can read about this campaign some more in this case study.
So, is content marketing a good idea?
The short answer is, YESYESYESYESYES.
Of course, it has to be done correctly to be successful. If the creator of the content is seen as an “authority”, then the public will see whatever it is that was made as relevant. This will then gain traction (probably with integrated social media use), and then become, for lack of a better word, viral.
Starbucks is an authority on coffee drinks, if a user comes up with the idea of a new drink, and Starbucks starts to sell it, that drink must be good. McDonald’s is an authority on their products. Anybody could have made an app that let’s people vote on if a public bathroom is clean or not, and then created a map that pinpoints where the “good” bathrooms are (Well, not anybody, but you get the point).
Now that you are seen as an authority, you need to have what is called a Minimum Viable Audience (MVA). The three hallmarks of an MVA are:
1) Taking in comments and evolving your content to make it better for the audience
2) Your audience is rapidly growing (organically, not by hiring people) thanks to social media, and
3) You are gaining information about either what the audience wants to know, or wants to have.
Now, how do you find this MVA? That is a subject for an entirely different blog.
Content Marketing: Creating a campaign that people WANT to see, rather than having thrust in their face
Have a good weekend!!