Content Marketing

Why the best content is about marketing sideways

The best content marketing transcends the transactionbadge-jay-says

This is the third in a series of videos culled from an interview about content marketing I did with Terry Foster of Cision Canada. Cision (the USA version) is also a sponsor of Convince & Convert and our Social Pros podcast. (here’s a post I wrote about their nifty content amplification tool).

Terry: So when a company’s just starting with content marketing, what are some key performance indicators, basic KPIs that they could start with in order to start measuring the effectiveness and success of their efforts?

Jay: It depends on the type of company and whether they’re B2B or B2C or how they sort of track their actual business in the real world. But, generally speaking, I think the best way to look at content programs is to say: “Do people care about it? Is there proof of caring?” And a lot of times you can measure that just anecdotally. You don’t have to necessarily have a whole complicated scheme.

For an example, there’s a company called Life Technologies – a major global manufacturer of scientific equipment. They have this great content program where they take their product catalog and they execute it as a series of YouTube videos that are chained together with annotations. So it’s almost like a choose-your-own adventure product catalog.

Well, they can’t necessarily track that back and say, “How many more beakers did we sell because of the YouTube product catalog?” But instead, when all their customers are calling and telling their sales reps, “We love this thing,” that’s proof that it’s working. That’s proof that people are paying attention, that they’re caring, and especially when it’s your first time out, that’s sometimes the best you can do is say, “Look, let’s come up with evidence that people care about this.”

Showing Your Content Marketing Personality

Terry: So if content marketing is a great way to show your brand personality, that’s a great example. What are some other good examples of personality through content marketing?

Jay: I’m glad you mentioned personality, Terry, because it’s really important. One of the biggest problems today with content marketing is companies creating content that is all about themselves or about their products and services. There’s a name for that kind of content marketing. It’s called a brochure.

One of the biggest problems with content marketing is companies creating content that is all about themselves. (click to tweet)

What I talk about a lot in Youtility and in presentations is this notion of marketing sideways, that the best content transcends the transaction. That it’s not necessarily about your products and services per se, but it’s about something that your customers care about that is related to what you actually offer.

The best content marketing transcends the transaction (click to tweet this)

columbia_sportswearOne of my favorite examples is from Columbia Sportswear. Columbia, of course, creates outdoor gear and jackets and hats and things like that. They have a mobile application called What Knot to Do in the Greater Outdoors. It’s actually an app that shows you how to tie knots, right on your phone. So if you’re camping or hanging off the side of a cliff, it’s pretty useful, right?

But they don’t sell rope. Columbia’s not in the rope business. But it’s related enough to their brand and what they sell, that it feels appropriate and useful. And when you use that app (which I do), it inserts their brand into my life in a way that otherwise they wouldn’t be present.

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  1. says

    Great post here Jay. Life Technologies has a call to action in that video series to order the product you’ve selected after following the branching chain of videos. Best of all, when you get to the final video on YouTube, the description confirms the criteria you used to make that selection.

    I reviewed that and a simpler product selection tool from Thermo Scientific (who have since purchase Life Tech) in my blog. I also question the utility of brochures in an age when product info is so easily accessed on a web page. I strongly believe the effort used in creating them could be redirected toward other more valuable content that is often omitted for lack of bandwidth.

  2. says

    Totally agree with everything you had to say Jay. Just finished reading Epic Content Marketing where Joe Pulizzi is pushing the same stuff. Content marketing is so much more than getting a lead, or getting a sale.

    Had on idea Columbia had created a cool app like that, and especially that they don’t sell climbing rope or carabiners.

  3. says

    Hey Jay,
    thanks for the great post. I love the Columbia example – that’s really straight to the point. And it opened my eyes how closely linked the vision of a company and content marketing are.

    For example: Mercedes Benz is selling cars, but their vision is actually “mobility” (that’s why they invested in car sharing in Germany). When they want to do content marketing they shouldn’t do marketing with selling cars in mind, instead their marketing should aim for helping people to get a higher rate of mobility.

  4. says

    Great point re: proof of caring – I just made the switch from product/ops into marketing and we’ve been talking about what we can do to scale that exact thing…reminds me of DJ Waldow, probably one of the best at transcending a transaction. No one makes you want to high-five more than that guy.

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