Content Marketing, like SEO it’s one of those things people know they need but have too many questions that they’re afraid to ask. Here’s a little case study to explain content marketing, its benefits and best practices to help you hit the ground running.
Content Marketing 101
Content marketing is the practice of producing valuable content for the right audience, at the right time, in the right format – and then amplifying it to ensure they see it. Most businesses do the basics – write a blog that answers a particular question and then share it on social media. If you’re doing this well, you’re already a budding content marketer. If you’re doing this but it’s not driving sales and interest in your brand, you might be just a few changes away from greater success.
Our content marketing case study
Meet Jack, a five year old content marketer from Brisbane. Jack had a problem. His favourite movie of all time is E.T. but very few of the kids in his prep class had seen it. He wanted to play alien games at lunch time but nobody was aware of, or interested in alien play. Jack defined his problem and then set about creating a strategy to solve it.
Determine the desired outcome
Jack’s desired outcome was encouraging a core group of his ideal market to take an action that would lead to both hard and soft conversion goals.
- The hard conversion goal – the most desired outcome was to have friends sign up to play E.T. and alien games at lunch time.
- The soft conversion goal was to raise awareness around the movie E.T. and aliens in general as a means to growing interest in both the product and industry.
Define your audience
There’s an old adage in advertising – speak to everyone and nobody listens, speak to one person and everyone eavesdrops.
Content marketing works best when delivered to a narrow, invested audience. The message must be wholly targeted to their needs, problems or aspirations. That isn’t to say that all content should be so specific that only a handful of people care (this kind of content is best delivered in a one on one way such as a sales pitch or email) – but that it delivers a valuable idea to all those with a common problem.
- Jack defined his ideal audience as his “posse” of around ten classroom buddies. The kids he already played with who would be easiest to convert to a new game.
- Then there were kids that are close to becoming one of his “crowd”. They were aware of his posse and were teetering on the edge of joining in with their games.
- Outside of that, there were kids he’d like to play with but they weren’t yet aware of how awesome he and his games were. They’d heard of him, maybe had a chat with him once or twice, bumped into him in reading groups but never made the leap to friendship.
- In addition to this there were the kids from the other prep classes who have never even heard of him but who were also in the ideal demographic for alien play. He didn’t yet have access to those kids but he was interested in gaining some.
How to best deliver your content
Delivery is very important. Your content needs to find the audience where they are. Unlike advertising, content marketing doesn’t seek to “tell” them to take an action, it seeks to inspire them to come to you. This is why the term “inbound marketing’ is used to describe combinations of content marketing activities.
Jack’s desired action was getting kids in his prep class to ask their parents to hire/download/stream the E.T. movie. He knew that the E.T. product was good. He knew that they’d love it and that it would lead to sign ups to his lunch time games.
Getting them to watch it was the issue. He could tell them directly to watch it, but there’s so much noise in the kid movie marketplace – how does a product that is proven to be great but is relatively unheard of in this marketplace have a chance? How does it compete with the big ticket Pixar movies when it’s far less glamourous and sophisticated? He told them it was good, his best friend (and PR agent) told them it was good, but 983740 ads have told them that the shiny new blockbuster is better.
How good content can cut through the noise made by big brands
Clever content that “nails” your audience’s pain point or aspirations will always fare well, even against showy paid ads. There’s a reason completely unheard of brands have millions of Facebook followers – they nail content. There’s a reason that so many small businesses derive 75% or more of their sales converting visitors via their blog and social activity – they understand their audience and the platforms they use to market to them. It’s below the line, one-on-one marketing at an epic level.
Getting E.T. onto T.V.s
Jack planned his campaign well. He set about looking for opportunities to reach his ideal audience at the right time, where he would be positioned as someone worth listening to. He chose to save up his campaign for his allotted “show and tell” day – an optimum time for exposure. This choice meant:
- He had a captive audience (similar to a webinar, speaking engagement, social media group or targeted email blast)
- The audience was responsive to his message (and therefore likely to share it with their friends outside his classroom)
- All desired subsets of his main audience were present (for maximum value on his work)
- The message was targeted to their location and industry (be it a prep class or LinkedIn group)
- It was in a format they’d love (visually appealing to the demographic and well-crafted as a story)
Executing the content marketing plan
Jack created his own picture book that told an abridged version of the E.T. movie, including the forest landing, the shed scene and all aliens. He took this to school for show and tell and “read” it to his class. Not once did he try to sell the idea of downloading or buying the film. Not once did he tell kids to play aliens with him. He never tried to explain content marketing goals to them. He never tried to sell a single thing to the kids. The results?
- Those who’d seen the movie enthusiastically helped tell the story
- Those who loved aliens compared it to Oh, the character from the blockbuster alien film of the time
- Those who had never heard of it, asked questions to learn more about it
- Those who loved stories and pictures became excited by the concept
- The teacher, a trusted and authoritative figure in the room, used it to launch a conversation about planets and our solar system
- Aliens became part of the general play repertoire, joining princess fairies, soccer, Transformers, Harry Potter, Angry Birds and house as one of the standard lunch time games.
- The audience members shared the story with their friends from the other prep classes
- The audience members bugged their parents (the financial decision makers) to acquire a copy of the movie.
- The siblings also watched the movie and spread the word to their friends, widening the message to a bigger (and more powerful audience)
- Within a few days, Jack had more than enough playmates to re-enact the whole movie at lunch time
Of course, Jack didn’t actually create and execute a content marketing strategy – he’s five. He did however demonstrate that content marketing, without the marketing, is a powerful tool for generating sales and leads. It was in fact, his lack of sales experience that made the content so powerful. His enthusiasm, knowledge and desire to create a fun experience for his peers is what made the execution so perfect. Great content marketing can’t be explained – it is about feelings and understanding. Be passionate, know your passions inside and out, lead others into passion and your content will do the rest.