Content marketing is now a buzzword, and, as such, has its fair share of people who don’t get it.
Here are just two ignorant questions I’ve been asked by fellow digital marketers (I’ve answered them below):
1) “What content have you created?”
2) “How do you make sure your content gets attention?”
1) Content is not just a piece of work you create once. Content is not an article. Or a tweet. Content marketing is the CONSISTENT process of creating and distributing valuable and relevant information to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience (with the objective of driving profitable customer action, of course). This information can be presented in a variety of formats:
- News articles
- Blog posts
- White Papers
- Illustrations, designs
- Public speaking
2) Attention isn’t worth much. If you want to matter to people, you have to help them to become better at something that they love doing. Do you help people to become better at Personal Finances? Dating? Travelling? Coding? Do you help your customers to develop into the people they were meant to be? If the answer is “No”, you don’t do content marketing.
People don’t want more content!!!
When it comes to content, less is more.
Smart content marketers don’t fight for attention. They don’t want to talk about everything at once. They are not interested in winning easy “clicks” by posting cat videos or Kim Kardashian naked butt photos online, because it won’t enrich anybody’s lives.
Smart content marketers earn respect and trust, before they earn attention. They are loyal servants to their customers.
My favourite content marketing story is 115 years old
Why do so many traditional publishers and journalists these days think that brands can’t possibly create their own content that could live on a platform not owned by a traditional media company?
Michelin Tires founders did it 115 years ago (in 1900) and their story is still the most talked about content marketing success story ever told.
Today Michelin Tires are one of the largest tire producers in the world, but in 1889 when two brothers Edouard and Andre started selling quality tires, they faced a fundamental business problem – there were as little as 3000 cars in France back then and Michelin had built such a good product that it took quite some time for these cars to require a new set of tires.
As great and reliable as their product may be, if people are rarely buying it, then the business is likely to run into trouble.
Brothers Edouard and Andre understood that before they could sell more tires, they needed more cars, so they created a need for people to travel further and use their cars more often. They developed the famous “Guide Michelin”, that offered reviews and features about various restaurants and hotels around France.
It was developed to be a driving companion to anyone with a car designed to encourage people to drive out a little bit further to check out the establishments in the book, with the added bonus of being a constant Michelin advertisement that targeted audience everywhere they went.
Within a decade, Michelin, who just a few years earlier were scratching their heads about how to grow their business, were now the number one tire supplier in all of Europe and its Guide remains number one in food and travel sector.
Michelin Stars are awarded for food excellence in restaurants. Today they are considered to be highly coveted awards by many chefs in Europe. A 3-star Michelin ranking is exceedingly rare. Only 26 3-star restaurants exist in France, and only 81 in the world.
So what did the Michelins understand that some other marketers don’t?
1) The product you sell does not define your image – think laterally
The Michelin brothers could’ve very easily said “We just deal with tires. This is just the way it is”. But they didn’t.
They looked at the bigger picture. They saw that for customers, it wasn’t really about tires. Ultimately, it was about what tires allowed them to do. So they said to themselves “We can do something infinitely better than just sell tires. We can encourage customer to have an amazing experience“.
You also may find the best way to increase the demand for your products or services is about increasing demand for a ‘linked’ product, or even by putting your efforts into promoting your industry as a whole. Don’t go constraining yourself.
2) Create content that lasts for years
Both Michelin’s products – tires and guide are built to last.
3) Make your content useful
As Michelin proved your content doesn’t have to be specifically about what you are selling – as long as it is relevant and useful to your audience your brand will stay positively front of mind.
Educate your customers, don’t just talk about yourself.
Content marketing is based on a simple principal: “If your customers are successful, you will be successful.”
4) Less is more
Michelin guide started as just one book. It was 7 years before they expanded into new countries.
More content isn’t always better for your marketing. One piece, like the guide, can have a life of it’s own and grow to evolve into a piece of marketing that will last longer than any ads or tweets you produce.
How do I approach content marketing?
When I sit down with my clients to discuss our Digital PR and Content Marketing strategy, I ask two questions:
1) How does your product help people to live better lives?
2) Where do you share interests with your audience? What your audience is likely to be comfortable hearing from you that is also useful for them?
The trick is finding an area that a brand can talk about without sounding too questionable, and that people feel comfortable hearing from them about..
When the area is identified, our clients become ‘experts’ in a much wider and interesting area, than just their products/service.
When you’re a content marketer, you can’t limit yourself. Your product is only your starting point.
I’d like to hear about the best content marketing examples you’ve come across. Feel free to drop your examples in the comments.