by John Graham
When’s the last time you actually clicked on an ad? Seriously, if you’re like me than you’re beyond annoyed by popup ads. Especially the ones that force you to watch a completely non-relevant video before your desired video starts. A recent study found that online display ads have a click through rate of less than 1/10th of 1 percent. With our screens being overloaded with ads and our increasing control over the content we consume marketers have to step their game up. The smart ones are starting to turn to a different means of connecting their brands with consumers. This approach does less selling and more telling…
One of the hottest trends in digital marketing right now is content marketing. Whether small business or international mega corp, CM is getting major budget allocation and for good reason. The Content Marketing Institute defines Content Marketing as “The marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” While it’s not a new concept by any stretch of the imagination it is becoming one of the most effective ways to communicate value to a target audience on digital platforms, especially us Millennials.
Because we believe in transparency as a rule rather than an exception we’re less trusting of brands that try to sell us a product or service. Instead we need to see the direct connection between our lives and the product. The content I’m most likely to share, click through, or consider purchasing as a result of engaging with is the content that provides value to me without the hidden agenda of getting in my pockets. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still extremely likely to buy something on impulse. In fact, millennials are 83% more likely to purchase something on impulse than any other generation. However, you have to woo us with emotionally engaging content that speaks to our hearts and intellect and not our wallets.
Now I have two choices here. 1) Inundate you with a bunch of stats about the effectiveness of content marketing (Stat Junkies Click Here) Or 2) Show you what great CM looks like. Spoiler alert! I’d rather show you some examples of brilliant content marketing that I think beautifully executes on the objectives of providing value to the audience without pushing a hard sell.
Example 1: Malena’s Vintage Boutique: What Is Bakelite?
Malena is an amazing vintage clothing expert and boutique shop owner I know based in West Chester, PA. Her video is a great example of content that speaks to a clearly defined target audience and offers loads of valuable information that the viewer can now tuck away in their toolbox for later. Great production quality in short format is always a winner. Additionally, did you notice all of the products being featured in this video? From her necklace and blouse, to the various bangles and bracelets, this video was product rich but never once did she ask you to buy anything. She’s garnered over 16,800 views and has driven 44 subscriptions to her YouTube channel. The kicker is that the video was published 3 years ago and it’s still working to bring awareness to Malena’s brand, and she’s not spending a dime to do it!
Example 2: Always – #LikeAGirl
Always brand commissioned award winning documentarian Lauren Greenfield to shine a spotlight on the insecurities that women deal with based on societies stereotypical views of what it means to do things “Like A Girl.” This visual was gripping in both its honesty and its approach. By having real people share their natural responses in a visual case study format to reveal their own biases was brilliant. This approach garners trust from the viewer and breaks down the barriers that would otherwise remain firmly in place if a product were present. As a father of 2 with my youngest being a 2 year old girl guess which brand I’ll be considering when she becomes of age? While many saw this ad spot during the 2015 Superbowl it was actually published in June of 2014. It’s now generated more than 55 million views on YouTube and brought in over 6,600 new subscribers.
Example 3: QVC – The Basics: Perfect Pancakes
This one caught me off guard because I didn’t expect to be engaged by QVC’s The Basics. No knocks to their brand but I am not their target audience by a long shot. However, this visual takes an inviting approach by offering valuable cooking information that anyone can use. Great production quality and very simple tutorial style make this a clear content marketing superstar. QVC is typically a product driven seller of all types of items so naturally at the end of the video a recommendation to learn more about the products being featured was made. This would typically be a turn off to me and others like me but oddly enough I found myself staring at the buy button on the product detail page of the flat non-stick pan she used to make the pancakes. They got me to click through and learn more about the product because the value and relevance was offered up front. After sharing this video with my network on FB and Twitter several of my friends advised that they nearly bought the pan as well. My wife actually used the recipe and tutorial to make pancakes the very next weekend. Considering the fact that I’m a millennial male and their target audience is 45-64 year old women, QVC may have a hit series with Millennials on their hands . Well played QVC… Well played.
These examples are only the tip of the iceberg. With more and more people becoming immune to the tactics of yesteryear’s marketing agencies a new age of thoughtful marketing is upon us. If you’re a content creator the answer is simple. Start by considering what value you want to provide the target audience. Your product will sell itself if you take you out of the equation and put your potential customer at the forefront of your decision making. Fail to do that and your content is as good as ignored!
If you’re trying to sell content marketing to your executives who only care about how much revenue it will generate there are a few things you can do. Proving ROI means more than just sales. Look at the long term value of content that provides long term customers. Consider the low cost of producing content that is useful for years after it’s published vs the high cost of paid search ad spots that disappear from memory within seconds of being seen if seen at all. Lastly, consider the high propensity of impulse buys when customers questions are answered and problems are solved by your content. While it’s not an immediate revenue generator in all cases (No marketing is) it is certainly a long term value generator that creates brand loyalty and word of mouth awareness potential that rivals any Superbowl commercial ad spot you could think of. Content marketing is not a tool to get someone to buy a product they don’t need, rather it’s a tool best used to get them to remember you when they actually need to buy the product you offer.
Great Resources To Help You Garner Buy-In From Execs:
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