Along with the countless articles out there extolling the wisdom of engaging in content marketing, there are some naysayers. In my observation, the majority of content-marketing-cynics "came up" in the business during an era, not very long ago at all, when marketing was Advertising-only. I believe the resistance to content marketing is primarily based in Fear. People like to keep doing what they've been doing; it's just more comfortable that way. To change, perhaps even drastically, in order to keep up with the times in your industry, can be a threatening concept.
I admit that I, too, was initially cynical about it, because I learned my craft of copywriting during an era of Advertising. I have since come to be a believer in and earnest practitioner of content marketing AND advertising.
Why? At this point in time it should be pretty obvious. Given the revolution in how we consume messages and have taken control of how we search out products and services, any brand would be foolish to keep their head in the sand.
To me, content marketing is another tool in the tool belt.
You use the tools that make sense to engage the interest of your target audience(s), where they live, and how they live. You do what works. This has always been the case.
As an example, I worked on Jiffy Lube business in the early 2000's — the Los Angeles and San Diego franchise group. The marketing tools that made the most sense then and there were radio commercials and outdoor billboards. You spoke to people when they were captive in their cars, likely to be aware of strange new noises coming up from under the hood, more likely than not to be receptive to a message that said, hey, if it's been awhile, go get an oil change, because it will help you to keep your car running smoothly. It was entertaining creative, because it needed to be; getting an oil change is not exactly a high-interest sell. So we made people smile with our advertising. (Yes I can use that word without cringing; it is advertising and I'm proud of it. Part of the pride comes from knowing that it worked. The radio ran on a rotating schedule, and during the weeks that it aired, more cars drove into Jiffy Lube stores. When the radio spots weren't airing, the numbers dropped. It was like magic.)
If I was Southern California Jiffy Lube's marketing consultant today, I would recommend that they continue to be on the radio and on billboards, because it still makes sense to remain top of mind; but I would highly encourage online content as part of the new mix. Why? Because people don't trust car mechanics very much, certainly ones that are part of a big national company. The more actual stories of human, friendly, helpful interactions between Jiffy Lube employees and customers that you can share, helps to build trust. Then, as people search online for the nearest oil change place, Jiffy Lube earns a higher ranking in people's minds, because they've got a better story to tell and share.
They could tell a story like the one that happened to me here in North Carolina.
A while ago, I needed to install a new headlight bulb in my car, and couldn't manage to fit my fat thumbs into the tiny space to install the bulb. The woman at the auto parts store told me that Jiffy Lube (right next door), would do that for me. I brought the car next door, asked about the installation, and was told it would be $10 to do so. I said sure. They put the bulb in. They said, have a good day! I said, what about the charge? They said, skip it. (Yes, they were kind of busy, and maybe it served them not to take more time to take my ten dollars, but on the other hand, it was a friendly and helpful gesture that I have not yet forgotten, about 10 months later). Would I consider that store the next time I needed an oil change? Yes.
Simple stories. Relevant and memorable stories. Informative stories that people may find of interest, and help to build a brand's reputation. To me, this defines good (and effective) content marketing. And it can be ever more powerful when the stories are told by your customers. I'm all in. How about you?
My client ShopBot Tools is getting ready to launch the latest version of their Handibot Smart Power Tool. It's pretty cool: a portable tool that cuts, carves and mills wood, plastics, even soft metals like aluminum. And you can drive it wirelessly from your phone or tablet. Here's the headline for a series of stories we're putting together:
The most effective marketing being great content, we were super pleased that Michael Fogleman shared his story of making wall art with a Handibot.
A new campaign deserves a new rallying tagline. The best part about it is, it's not something artificial that gets "slapped onto the product." It evolves quite naturally out of the many stories of people using the Handibot to carve their own path.
This year I've been collaborating on several projects with Springer Studios. I've written targeted landing pages for CompassPointeNC.com, and also wrote scripts and conducted the on-camera interviews for a series of videos featuring Compass Pointe homeowners. They've all migrated south from places such as Northern Virginia, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey to Wilmington, NC, for retirement. When they "tawk," target audiences up on the Eastern Seaboard are listening. Watch video here.
Direct mail pieces such as the piece below have been out-performing previous efforts in driving phone calls to the sales group.
Oh wouldn't you like to be there right about now? Maybe you ARE there (the Crystal Coast of North Carolina). In that case, I'm hugely jealous. This summer I wrote the website and accompanying video for the Ocean Bluff development, www.oceanbluffnc.com. The site was designed by my friend David Springer from Springer Studios. Check it out! And save me a cold one.
Arkansas-based corporate recruiter Matt Jackson specializes in management-level searches for the construction industry. His website was bringing him a lot of unqualified leads. This new site has begun to change that. Its tone needed to be conservative and crisp; its language needed to be clear. I came up with a simple, targeted, provocative tagline and wrote the copy. Mike Rosado designed it, Matt Harrell built it. Visit the site.
This summer I had the pleasure of writing a new site for WithersRavenel, a leading civil and environmental engineering firm in Raleigh. They were celebrating becoming employee-owned! A pretty big deal. Site was designed by my friends Mike Rosado of MRCreative Shop, developed by Matt Harrell and the gang at Five Points Solutions.
Michael Berliner is a copywriter based in the Triangle area of North Carolina (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill). Get in touch with Michael