One of the main objections we hear from brands about implementing a content marketing strategy is that their product or service is not ‘sexy’ enough, or that there is nothing interesting to talk about in their field. However, when you scratch beneath the surface, you find that this is simply not true. Wherever there is a market for something, there’s an audience with problems to be solved and needs to be met. As the following examples prove, you might just have to think a bit more broadly about your subject matter.
There’s nothing inherently sexy or riveting about accounting software but MYOB has successfully tapped into the Australian business community with its blog, ‘The Pulse’, providing “news, views and ideas” for small businesses. The blog is written by a combination of MYOB staff members and external experts. Rather than just focusing on accounting, The Pulse covers a broad range of general business matters including leadership, culture, HR and marketing. Accounting body CPA Australia has also used content marketing to give the profession a makeover, putting CEO Alex Malley into the spotlight as host of ‘The Naked CEO’. The show – described as ‘social media meets reality TV’ – gives students a behind-the-scenes look at some of Australia’s most successful companies. The Naked CEO also spawned a gaming app called Boardroom Tycoon.
US marketing execs Joe Speiser and Alex Zhardanovsky knew it was going to take more than a blog about pet food to spark interest in their online pet supplies company, Petflow.com. So they created a community around the love of pets, capitalising on pet owners’ propensity to share cute and funny stories and videos about animals. Petflow.com’s blog now has an avid following, along with a Facebook fan base of over 3 million. And the company’s success is not just measured in terms of popularity – in its first year, Petflow.com achieved over $1 million in revenue and closed 2013 with $39 million in sales.
Clever content marketing has taken the humble Sharpie from being ‘just another marker pen’ to having a cult following online. The company has created a blog out of images of what its customers have done with the product – from bespoke wallpaper to eskies, clothes and custom coffee tables. The real genius of this approach is not just that it gets Sharpie’s customers using the product, it also gets them creating the content. As well as the blog, Sharpie has a Facebook following of over 4 million (mostly teenage) fans.
While Colgate didn’t exactly need to create a blog to build brand awareness, its website is an interesting exercise in taking the banal and turning it into something useful. Featuring hundreds of articles, interactive guides and videos – with dedicated sections for dental professionals, teachers and kids – Colgate’s website is a complete resource on oral and dental care.
In an industry that is reticent to take risks and give away its intellectual property, Pod Legal (a boutique Australian law firm specialising in IP, technology and social media law) is bucking the trend. Pod Legal publishes a range of useful content on its website, including articles, eBooks, FAQs and even cartoons, which it dubs ‘podtoons’ that deal with relevant legal issues.
US blender company Blendtec could easily have gone down the route of many kitchen appliance manufacturers and focused on
creating a community around recipes that can be made using its products. However, this clever brand took a chopping blade to conventional wisdom and produced a series of YouTube clips demonstrating the toughness and durability of its blenders. The ‘Will it Blend?’ series featured founder Tom Dickson putting the products to the test with items including iPods, iPhones, marbles, golf balls and remote controls. The series went viral and, according to Dickson, had an “amazing impact” on sales.
Dollar Shave Club is another brand that has successfully used YouTube to bring its message to the masses. In March 2012, the company rocked the social media stratosphere with an irreverently scripted one and a half-minute clip featuring founder Mike Dubin. “Do you like spending 20 dollars a month on brand named razors? Nineteen go to Roger Federer,” he quips. “And do you think your razor needs a vibrating handle, a flash light, a backscratcher and 10 blades?” … “Well, for a dollar a month we send high quality razors right to your door.” The clip, titled ‘Our Blades Are F***ing Great’, prompted 12,000 orders in a two-day span after it was released, and racked up 4.75 million views in the first three months. In June 2013, Dollar Shave Club released a second video on YouTube called ‘Let’s Talk About #2’, which again starred its CEO and promoted One Wipe Charlies. The video won the Shorty Award in 2014 for Best Use of Social Media.
Spicing up a ‘boring’ brand with content
• Think broadly – tap into the broader category, don’t just focus on the product
• Know who your customers/prospects are and encourage conversations that will create and engage a community around your product/service
• Don’t limit yourself to writing – consider things like images (Pinterest, Instagram), video (YouTube, Vimeo) and games
• Consult Buzzsumo.com for ideas on shareable content in your field
• Find a niche for the brand and establish it as a thought leader in that niche
• Target authoritative sites or publications in your field and consider offering your services as a guest blogger
• Establish your in-house experts as ‘go-to gurus’ for journalists through services like Sourcebottle.com
• Dare to be different
• Have fun – poke fun at yourself if it’s appropriate for your brand
Here’s a great Slideshare deck on other brands that have turned ‘boring’ into ‘brilliant’ with content marketing: