July 5, 2016
If ever there were a profession suffering from motion sickness, it’s marketing. Upheaval from a sea of constant change is truly the new norm. Sure footing is a thing of the past. As we look to deliver value within our organizations, we find that our arms need to span greater breadths and depths. First we thought alignment with sales was big. Then we took on technology. Now we see another progression as conversations expand into customer experience. It’s no longer enough to tell the story of the good you deliver. Now, brands have to pony up on that expectation at every touchpoint with uber relevant experiences.
We’ve seen great companies make the transition from traditional marketing into content and bring it to life through stellar storytelling. That’s still comfortably within the realm of expectations for marketing’s responsibilities. But there’s more looming on the horizon and we’re picking up speed fast.
Marketers must take our deep understanding of customers and use that to take action to drive revenue. In this case, it means opening up our arms to embrace all the experiences that customers have with our brand. From awareness to customer retention, from sales to service – the interactions that people have with our brand is a prime consideration in every marketing channel. Reviews of a company’s performance trump claims in high-priced advertisements. It’s these experiences that creates brand value, not just product value, reach and awareness. It’s the difference between the brands that commit to serving customers first and foremost verses those commit solely to selling products.
The emotions people feel when they interact with a brand is the emotion they attach to the brand. Happy. Sad. Frustrated. Relieved. It’s the sum of digital, social and face-to-face connections that determine whether someone becomes a customer and how long they stay. It’s no longer enough to tell the story of why a brand is different. It’s time to put ideas into action and organize around creating stellar experiences that are separate and distinct from the products and services that we sell. This must be our core strategy for creating and growing the value of brands.
What, exactly, do content-driven experience look like? And what brands are getting them right? Clearly, those who understand that delivering relevant experiences means offering value first to connect with more people, more often and in new ways. They put building audiences and creating differentiating experiences at the forefront of everything they do. Take a look at these six examples:
Marriott’s content studio is designed to create a community of people who love to travel, not just push hotel room. In February, Marriott released its third short film, which is part of the brand’s focus on partnering with creators to tell original stories that showcase its portfolio of 19 brand. These short films are just part of a larger marketing strategy focused on winning the hearts, minds and wallets of the next generation traveler.
Emerson’s ILoveSTEM site is the go-to destination for all things science, technology, engineering and math. By partnering with ‘Geek-Chic’ internet video sensation Hank Green, Emerson is wooing young talent into the engineering profession, enticing new grads into industrial markets and showing hard-won clients how they solve one of their toughest problems – fueling the employee ranks of the industrial engineering industry.
Going beyond shoes and workout gear, Nike + Training Club is a downloadable app that inspires athletes of every level to work out with Nike Master Trainers, get motivated with friends and train better together. With a ‘No matter your level, no matter your goal’ philosophy, Nike offers over free 100 workouts for people to train whenever they want, wherever they are.
With the welding industry losing practioners at an alarming rate, the brand wanted to spark a captivating conversation. By launching Arc Magazine in February 2015, they sought to show how vital of a skill welding is and how potentially cool it can be. The magazine is designed to appeal to a new generation of welding and create practitioners. In the first 12 months, Arc Magazine has attracted a subscriber base of 12,000 and a distritution of over 350,000.
Kraft Heinz (formerly Kraft Foods)
One of the leading collections of food brands in the world, KraftRecipes.com houses over 30,000 recipes. KraftRecipes employs 20 culilanry professionals who work with Kraft products every day to develop recipes, tips and ideas for its audience. The site also has product information and print-from-home coupons. With more than 1 billion views a year, the site is ranked number 7 of all recipes sites. The paid subscription for its print magazine, Food & Family, is larger than that of Food & Wine.
In 2009, the company launched its free Energy University program that offers courses on energy-efficiency and data center topics to help people identify, implement and monitor efficiency improvements within organizations. Developed with the Institute of Energy Professionals (IEP), the online university gives energy-focused individuals worldwide new options for earning a highly marketable respected credential in the field of energy management. Since its introduction in 2009, Energy University has provided industry-leading, vendor-neutral energy efficiency education to more than 130,000 professionals worldwide. The program offers more than 200 courses, including the Professional Energy Manager (PEM) and Data Center Association certifications.
What content-driven experiences are you seeing that are setting new standards for how brands create value? Tell us in the comments below.
About Carla Johnson
Consistently recognized as one of the top influencers in content marketing,as well as one of the top 25 in B2B marketing and one of the Top 50 Women in Marketing, Carla’s latest book, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing, teaches marketers how to develop, manage and lead the creation of valuable experiences in their organizations. Carla serves on the Executive Board and as the Vice Chair for the Business Marketing Association (a division of the ANA) and is an instructor for the Content Marketing Institute. Carla also contributes to industry wide news outlets, forums and conferences on the future of marketing, leading through innovation, and the power of storytelling.