For over a decade now, marketers have heralded the promise of content marketing as a replacement for digital advertising. Although content certainly has increased web traffic, and organic search, it has yet to deliver a promising ROI for 3 reasons:
- Good content must be distributed in such a way that it brings NEW prospective buyers to your website, rather than customers who are already aware you exist.
- Content that simply promotes your solutions is incredibly ineffective.
- Although content is moderately more effective than advertising, potential buyers don’t want content, they want information and entertainment.
Direct to Consumer Cuts Into Retail:
This phenomenon is best seen in the Direct-to-Consumer model. Notable players include Dollar Shave Club, The Honest Co.and Jet.com, all of whom have taken on monolithic competitors and captured market share quickly.
According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), a trade group that conducts research on marketing and advertising, “two-thirds of all U.S. consumers expect direct connectivity to the companies from which they buy goods and services.”
Translated, today’s buyers know that by using digital and social channels, they can first build relationships with brands, and then be educated and/or entertained by them (before Dollar Shave Club ads showed up on TV, they were notoriously found displaying funny videos on YouTube).
As that relationship grows, an initial purchase ensues, and if the product experience is good, the buyer (now in a full-fledged relationship with the brand) literally BECOMES the marketing engine.
They share the educational and witty videos, tools and tips. They tell their friends what they liked and didn’t like. It’s totally transparent and ridiculously cost-effective.
So, how do brands implement these authentic promotional strategies and start growing more cost effectively?
- Know your target market very well. Where are they online? Know what they want/need well BEFORE they buy your product? If you’re not sure, ask them. Even if you are sure – ask them anyway.
- Be creative, tell stories, and have fun. Create an interactive marketing campaign that allows the customers to physically or virtually connect with the product. This could be through VR, ARor other innovative technological components.
The best example of a D2C killer brand is wine label 19 Crimes. The Australian wine label used history and an ingenious app to literally have wine bottles come to life and tell a story about 18thcentury British criminals imprisoned for one of 19 crimes who were subsequently shipped from England to then “new world” of Australia.
The app is simple: Focus your phone camera on the criminal’s face (which is on the wine label), and the app plays a short video on your phone. It’s that cool!
19 Crimes has quickly become the fastest growing wine label with virtually NO marketing. The customers who love the creativity of the story-driven technology and believe the wine is “better than average,” tell their friends, who tell their friends.
- Determine what you can provide for free, that potential customers will consider valuable. For example, connect with your target market through shareable, short video clips within the physical product that encourages engagement socially and amongst each other.
Dollar Shave Club provides entertainment on a boring subject – shaving. What if they added a QR code from the product to one of their fun videos?
- Last, but most important, just be real. Don’t try to spin or fake your way through it. Engage with customers before promoting to them. Utilize community forums and social sharing sites to make an impact through messages, whether it is driving them to a community forum, or interactive tool that provides information with minimal effort. Think of this as making it easier for the consumer to educate themselves about your product. For example, maybe a blog post reads itself out loud, or produces an interaction with content that highlights a social movement in some way.
Content marketing, for content sake won’t generate an ROI. But, if the focus remains on the customer, and serving them while they are educating themselves, the ROI escalates.
Our vision with Promote On Purpose is bold. We revolutionize the way brands grow. And we’re so good at Authentic Demand Generation™ that we guarantee a revenue-based ROI.