Walking to the corner market with my best friend to buy a packet of that little pink bubble gum wrapped in a comic strip was one of the highlights of my nine-year-old existence. Sure, there were other bubble gum brands on the shelf, but none of them had the latest adventures of Bazooka Joe inside. I was too young and blissfully ignorant to realize that my purchase decision was being influenced by a well-used, little-known marketing strategy, called Content Marketing.
Content marketing is a way of engaging and attracting existing and potential customers by providing information they find valuable. This can be informational, educational, or even entertaining.
Scotts LawnService are masters of content marketing. And they’ve proven that the content you provide doesn’t even have to be free. Besides their line of lawn care products, they also sell a plethora of “how-to” books to get you up to speed.
But the spirit of content marketing is giving away free information to your target market, in this case, DIY homeowners. And Scotts LawnService provides plenty of that—from email newsletters, podcasts, and even an iPhone app, which landed No. 3 in the iTunes Store Lifestyle category.
But you don’t need to go all high-tech. In 2002, when email marketing was all the rage, I decided that a print newsletter would get more attention than just one more message in my clients’ already overcrowded inbox. (And it did.) Besides newsletters, you can also deliver content in the form of:
- Blog posts
- White papers
- Articles published on industry websites
- Wall posts
And don’t forget an often overlooked type of content: special offers and discounts. You don’t have to offer daily deals like Groupon, but budget-conscious shoppers love an occassional good deal—or an exclusive one.
After the dot-com crash of 2001, Bill Gates quoted Winston Churchill during a keynote address, famously saying that this was not the end, but “the end of the beginning.” From those early growing pains, the web has evolved from a collection of static pages into a publishing platform. Internet users are no longer simply content consumers, but content creators. Tools like Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress have given the average small business owner the ability to leverage that platform to build an audience. That audience may be people looking to learn from your sage advice, or simply looking for a good deal.