The proof is in the Content

And then there was content marketing. Now that omnichannel has become somewhat self-evident, the brands and retailers are now setting their sights on the latest ‘buzzword’: content marketing. There is a certain realisation sinking in with brands or retailers that, amidst all the competition, the key to staying ahead of the pack is to distinguish yourself. But then the question arises: how do you make it clear to potential customers to buy your product or service? What makes your product so special? Reason enough to produce more and more ‘evidence’ – in the shape of content – to persuade the customer. But just how persuasive is that content? And is it really what the consumer wants? There may be an urgency to carry out the distinguishing factor, but the consumer will only be open to it if this distinguishing factor is relevant to him, if he senses that you understand him. If you can achieve relevance, you can gain the trust and build a bond, ultimately resulting in brand preference.

The distinguishing factor: your heart and soul
In order to be unique, it is very important to find a persuasive, ‘distinguishing factor’; to tell your story in a way that appeals to your target audience, in a form and through a channel of their choice. Joe Pullizi, the renowned content marketing guru, strongly advises that you look for your own ‘sweet spot’. Or in other words: find those topics that

truly make you unique (your expertise) and genuinely interest your target audience.

An excellent example is Patagonia, a brand and retailer that designs outdoor clothing and makes outdoor gear for the so-called silent sports (climbing, surfing, trail running, etc.). Their mission is to make their gear as sustainable as possible, with the commitment to cause no unnecessary harm the environment to produce their products. This is the heart and soul of the Patagonia brand! For instance, they saw it as their duty to initiate the Worn Wear programme: produce products of the highest possible quality, repair them if necessary, so you can continue using them for as long as possible without having to buy them anew, without burdening the environment with reproduction. This message, and the concept, appeals greatly to their target audience.

This is then translated into the very engaging ‘stories we wear’, in which real people talk about and demonstrate the bond they have with their favourite Patagonia clothing. Such as Tom from Ireland, who has made, sanded down and polished more surfboards than he can remember, all while wearing the same Patagonia jacket. Wearing the jacket not only gives him the protection he needs while working, but also the satisfaction he wants. Stories aren’t just ‘told’ in blogs and videos, but are given added shape in the ‘Repair & Care guides’ and even in an actual Repair Bus, which travels the country, ready to mend clothing on the spot.

A bond for life
Evoking sympathy by expressing a beautiful message forges a bond. Dove, for example, is dedicated to giving a realistic look at beauty. Let’s get rid of the insecurities women have about their bodies and give them the confidence to be beautiful the way they are. The advertisements with ‘real’ women to state this message have made way for loads of content that’s sending out the same message.