When I wrote Marketing 2.0 in 2009 I set out to write a book for the average marketer. My goal was for marketers, particularly in small and midsize businesses and non-profits, to understand what social media is and how to embrace it productively. I boiled my book down to two core principles: content marketing and relationship building (through your content). In this post, I focus on content marketing because it is so crucial. And, truth be told, I still see many marketers struggle with their content marketing strategy.
Any business, in any industry of any size can (and should) create a compelling content strategy. Regardless of your industry, a content strategy should deliver on the 3 E’s.
Educate | Enlighten | Entertain
We live in an interactive world. People go online to do research about the products they’re considering, the companies behind them and even the people who make and sell them. There is no hiding behind a corporate façade any longer. It’s not 1997, nor 2007. Those days are long gone. If a company tries to hide behind a corporate identity, they probably don’t even realize how much damage they’re doing to their brand because their corporate head is buried in the sand.
Businesses who produce great content that attracts people to it win. Period! Let’s look at how the 3 E’s of content marketing allow these three companies to market effectively. BTW, it was hard to pick just three examples.
SpaShopper sells spa pumps, filters, covers and other parts and accessories for spas and hot tubs. Their blog, Hot Tub and Spa Expert focuses mostly on educating consumers on a variety of relevant topics of interest to hot tub and spa owners. The topics range from how often the water needs to be changed, to how to regulate the temperature, adjusting filter cycles, proper use of chemicals, reducing electrical costs, how to winterize your spa and much more you might never have thought of. In addition to great articles on these topics, they’ve produced educational video on topics such as replacing your spa pump and motor which shows a young lady dressed in overalls replacing a spa pump and motor. The message in these videos is anyone can do it! And the message is delivered in a believable, educational way. SpaShopper also has product promotions displayed on their blog, which results in product sales each time a new educational blog post is released. In full disclosure, SpaShopper is a client.
Sarasota Memorial Hospital (SMH) enlightens by sharing insights about their hospital, their staff, their capabilities, what they care about and about the local community. For example, “Sarasota Memorial’s licensed mental health professionals are on call 24 hours a day to provide free mental health assessments, referrals and advice.” Or, did you know that May is national stroke awareness month? And, did you know that strokes are (unfortunately) rising among younger adults. And, did you know that the city of Sarasota has moved from #11 to #5 in the top 25 small cities according to American Style Magazine. This kind of content is endless on a daily basis from SMH. Of course, they also provide enlightening content through Twitter and Facebook and through a new construction blog. All this enlightening content helps make SMH a well known hospital system. And, it doesn’t hurt that SMH is ranked one of America’s top 100 hospitals according to U.S. News & World Report.
There are so many good examples of companies that use entertainment as part of their content strategy including HubSpot’s videos and, of course, Blendtec. But, the example I’ll share with you is from Indium Corp. Their story has become pretty well known too. They are outstanding content producers. Indium has more than 70 engineers blogging about solder paste applications in the electronic assembly manufacturing industry. That’s obviously a very narrow niche. If you’re not an engineer in the electronic assembly market, you wouldn’t be a reader of their blogs. But, the engineers who read these blogs, many of whom are PhDs, have a sense of humor. Rick Short at Indium decided to create some videos designed to make fun of themselves. As Rick readily admits, Indium is humanizing themselves by poking fun at the importance of solder paste. Let’s face it, while solder paste is very important to electronic assembly manufacturers, it’s not a product linked with romance or cheer on Christmas. Yet, Rick made video parodies about giving a tub of Indium’s solder paste to his wife on Valentine’s day and to a little girl on Christmas day. The result? Rick is effectively humanizing Indium and creating buzz that often creates new opportunities. Rick was once walking the halls of a trade show in China when he was approached by someone who saw his Valentine’s Day video. Rick had to explain that he didn’t really give his wife a tub of solder paste. It was a joke! Indium’s overall content strategy delivers on all 3 E’s including entertainment.
I hope these three examples have provided some inspiration to develop a content strategy that delivers on the 3 E’s. If you’ve only been delivering one of the 3 E’s that’s a good start. Consider what else you can do with your content to expand into the other 2 E’s. Study your competition. Don’t copy what they’re doing (if they’re doing any good content marketing). Rather, look for ways to capitalize on your strengths and differentiators by creating more content that delivers on each of the 3 E’s.
Did you give someone you love a tub of solder paste on Valentine’s Day? If not, now you have an idea for next year…