“Content is the atomic particle of all marketing.” ~ Rebecca Lieb
The importance of content as a marketing tool in a competitive market cannot be emphasized enough. Every brand in the world is trying to tell a compelling story to get a slice of the user’s attention. The adage ‘If you are failing to plan, you are planning to fail’ is most appropriate if you are attempting to launch a new product independent of a concrete content marketing plan. According to an AcuPoll study 80-95% of new product launches bite the dust! In a majority of cases, the single most striking reason for failure is the lack of a thorough content marketing strategy.
Content marketing is not shouting from the rooftop to trade your wares to every passer by. It is not about creating a deluge of information on all available media at frequent intervals. Content marketing is about using clear, concise, and compelling content judiciously to engage your audience all through the journey of your business and humanize your product to create an experience. A good content strategy will weave a story around the product and build a relationship of trust with the target audience. It will compel the customer to make a purchase decision that favors you over your competitor and builds allegiance to your brand.
The role of content marketing throughout a product life cycle is illustrated below:
Content has always been the king, irrespective of the medium of marketing. A pre-internet era product launch that leveraged content to its benefit is best illustrated by G.I. Joe toys of the 80s. In 1982, Hasbro and Marvel came out with their comic book series, G.I. Joe – A Real American Hero. In a span of two months of releasing the first comic book, they had captured the imagination of five to 12 year old boys, and one in every five owned two or more G.I. Joe toys. And, the comic book only had 2 stories. Within a decade, the series emerged to be one of Marvel’s strongest titles and two out of three boys in the same age category owned at least one G.I. Joe action figure.
Here’s a look at some of the most successful product launches in the digital era that got the content game right:
ADP, a leading business outsourcing solution provider, has cashed in on their expertise in human resource management to create numerous white papers on the topic. The icing on the cake was their white paper-centric search engine they developed to help their customers sift through the available material to gain invaluable information. This effort alone garnered them business leads to the tune of one million USD within three months of the launch. A fine example of ‘what helps people, helps business’.
Virgin Mobile has always been leading the pack of wireless and VoIP providers in using social media and content marketing for its campaigns. Their motto which has kept them ahead of their competitors, is the emphasis on the depth of engagement over extent of reach on digital media campaigns. Virgin Mobile Live — a social newsroom that the company uses to promote apps, music, and other digital content throughout the day — has created a strong brand presence and helped generate new leads.
In 2013, Crowe Horwath, a leading accounting and consulting firm, launched a content marketing drive for reaching out to financial institutions with $1 billion or more in assets. They reached out to their customers with 50 (yes you read it right) different topics of interest for their target audience in all formats like case studies, infographics, videos, and executive briefs. And the result? One infographic alone generated 800 new leads with two of the leads hiring their services for $250,000 each.
Glossier, started by beauty blogger Emily Weiss, took the leap from content to commerce in 2014. Her cosmetics line was built from the feedback she received via her much followed blog ‘Into the Gloss’ (started in 2010), Instagram, emails, and surveys. Emily describes content as the “heart and soul” of the brand. Glossier teased its Instagram audience with behind-the-scenes photos for a month prior to the launch. And, their account grew to 15,000 followers without people knowing what Glossier was! Emily still relies heavily on her customers to crowdsource her products. Glossier’s content marketing is all about – ‘Do not sell. Instead make your customers the hero of your stories’.
The key takeaways from the success stories are:
With a plethora of digital and non-digital platforms to develop content for, the campaign space is getting noisier. A smart marketer will not only yell louder, but will yell a better story louder! Make sure your content marketing has the right answer for the million dollar question – what makes a better story?