Picture this: You’re sitting on your couch with your family after a long day at work. Your favorite show just came on and you’re all excited to find out whether Barry is actually going to get together with Iris or if these star-crossed lovers will remain apart forever. After all, Barry is the fastest man alive and that would put a strain on a normal dating relationship. Just then, I kick down your living room door and start yelling about the latest features on the new android phone and assure you that the price is actually quite reasonable. You’d probably tell me to get out of your house. Actually, your dog Bruno would probably chase me out first. After all, he was trained to be a master level protection dog. Well done Bruno.
No one wants to be interrupted. In today’s media environment, most audiences are choosing what they want to watch and when they want to watch it. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video all make it easy to consume content without watching any advertising and for those viewers still watching through more traditional cable broadcast channels, DVRs have made it easy to skip commercials and get right back to the content you were watching. That’s the key word: “content."
We enjoy watching content. We usually don’t seek out advertising. Consumers may read reviews or look for information when they are in the buying cycle, but much of the traditional advertising we are hit with ends up being background noise or worse, annoying. “Dude, I’m not ready for that kind of commitment yet. I don’t even know you.” Content marketing seeks to provide valuable, relevant, and consistent content to your audience with goal of connecting on a personal and emotional level. Eventually, this should help drive profitable customer action.
Dove is one company that has employed successful content marketing by creating a series of short films that promote an ideology their brand holds. These pieces don’t speak specifically about price, features, or even specific products. Instead, the inspiring videos from Dove promote the idea that each woman is beautiful. In the “real beauty” campaign, women see other real women instead of the models that are often associated with beauty product advertising.
Another important attribute of content marketing is that brands are authentic about the messages they promote. Dominos saw great success when they took customers’ complaints about their pizza to heart and created a campaign to address those complaints publicly. They changed their whole recipe and turned a negative opinion about their pizzas into 6% marketshare increase from 2009 to 2016 through self deprecating marketing.
Pepsi and Heineken demonstrate the importance of authenticity in content marketing. Pepsi made an attempt to capitalize on social and racial issues in an ad featuring Kendall Jenner giving a police officer a can of Pepsi. The ad was met with outrage on all sides, called “tone-deaf” and actually lead to the trending hashtag “#boycottpepsi”. Heineken succeeded where Pepsi failed by creating a social experiment campaign called “Worlds Apart.” In the videos, pairs of people are introduced and encouraged to begin a conversation. Their seemingly opposed backgrounds are revealed to each other but the ads end with each respecting the other and sharing a drink. Where Pepsi tried to co-opt a hot topic, Heineken created a conversation. Modern audiences are very sensitive to authenticity.
Rather than interrupting your viewers with traditional marketing or trying to jump on a bandwagon, think about the genuine story your brand has to tell. Create content marketing that speaks to your audience about your values and then trust the method. ROI may be hard to track with this type of campaign, but the engagement you'll get with your followers will be tangible and that connection will lead to the sales over time.
EDIT: The day we published this, Dove received a lot of backlash for a new video which really missed the mark. This just goes to show that knowing your demographic is just as important as authenticity
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