Content Marketing – A New Kind of Classroom
Don’t you miss the smell of chalk and the sounds of a bustling classroom? The eager eyes that wait for you to share wisdom and light their minds with knowledge?
Well, as a marketer, you’re not that far from a teacher, as you may think. Education isn’t confined to the four walls of a classroom, and in the world of marketing, your content is the curriculum.
The playground has shifted, and so has the game. Marketing is no longer about pitching your product at the highest volume or having the most dazzling billboard. It’s about engaging, connecting, and educating your customers with content that adds value to their lives. So, let’s lace up our boots and prepare to teach a lesson that our customers will never forget.
Table of Contents
Step 1: The Subject Matter – Your Product, Your Story
Remember the best teachers you’ve had?
They were those who didn’t just know the facts and formulas, they breathed life into them, turned them into tales that captivated your mind, ignited your curiosity, and left you yearning for more. They knew their subject matter not just at a surface level, but inside and out, back to front, and every way in between. As a marketer, you’re not just a salesperson, but an educator, and your subject is your product.
Yet, it’s not merely about knowing the specifics of your product, but about comprehending the story it tells, understanding the problems it resolves, and recognizing the value it delivers. This is the tale you’ll be imparting to your customers.
Education, after all, isn’t just about relaying information, but about inspiring a desire to learn. This principle holds just as true for your customers. It starts with creating content and a content marketing strategy that goes beyond the shallow end, diving deep into the essence of what your product truly offers. This isn’t a one-time process, but a continual journey of discovery that you embark on with your customers. Every blog post, every whitepaper, every webinar, every how-to guide is a new chapter in your product’s story, unveiling a new aspect of its character, a new dimension of its usefulness.
Take, for instance, a company selling eco-friendly cleaning products. A mere description of the product won’t cut it. Instead, a blog post could cover the story behind the brand’s commitment to sustainability, the specific problem of harmful chemicals in conventional cleaning supplies, and how their product provides a solution.
A whitepaper could delve into the scientific aspect, detailing the research and development process, explaining the ingredients used, their sources, and their impact on both cleanliness and the environment. Webinars could offer live demonstrations, highlighting the effectiveness of the product, answering customer queries in real-time, and offering tips for best results. How-to guides could provide creative ways to use the product, driving home its versatility.
Each piece of content uncovers a new layer, presents a new perspective, sparks a new conversation. And with every revelation, your customers gain a deeper understanding of not just the product, but the value it brings to their lives.
They begin to see beyond the label and the price tag, appreciating the story that your product tells. This is the power of educational marketing. You’re not just selling a product, you’re sharing a narrative, a narrative that resonates with your customers, that engages them, that makes them part of your story. And that’s a lesson they’re sure to remember.
Step 2: The Lesson Plan – Crafting Your Content Marketing Strategy
Just as a maestro wouldn’t step on stage without a score, a chef wouldn’t start cooking without a recipe, a good teacher doesn’t stroll into the classroom without a lesson plan. Likewise, embarking on content marketing without a concrete strategy is like setting sail without a compass.
Your first mission, as the educator in this context, is to comprehend your audience in-depth. Understand their demographics, their desires, their difficulties. Recognize the questions they’re asking, the problems they’re facing, the solutions they’re seeking. And then, tailor your content to address these aspects.
The goal isn’t to bombard your customers with information but to furnish them with knowledge, knowledge that arms them to make informed decisions.
This is where a detailed content marketing calendar becomes your trusty companion, your roadmap in the sprawling landscape of content creation. It’s a pre-planned schedule that outlines what content you’re going to produce, when you’re going to publish it, and where it will be shared. It’s about strategizing, prioritizing, and organizing. But more importantly, it’s about maintaining consistency, building momentum, and fostering trust among your audience.
Your content marketing calendar should reflect a balance. Like a well-rounded diet, it should contain a mix of different types of content, each serving a unique purpose. Evergreen content is your staple. These are the pieces that remain relevant regardless of time, continually educating and providing value to your customers. They could be in-depth guides, how-to articles, FAQs, or explainer videos, anything that offers long-term value and builds a solid foundation of knowledge.
On the other hand, timely content is like your seasoning, adding flavor and variety to your content mix. This could involve content that speaks to current trends, industry news, seasonal topics, or responses to recent customer queries. This type of content shows your customers that you’re not just a static entity but a dynamic, responsive brand that’s in tune with the changing landscape and their evolving needs.
By effectively planning and balancing your content, you’re not just providing your customers with a one-off lesson but a comprehensive course that educates them about your product, your brand, and the value you offer. It’s not just about marketing, but about fostering a learning journey that empowers your customers, instills confidence, and ultimately, encourages loyalty. So, sharpen your pencils, prepare your lesson plan, and get ready to transform your content content strategy from a mere marketing tool into a powerful educational platform.
Step 3: The Teaching Method – Delivering Your Content
Remember the diversity in your school classroom?
Some classmates learned best by watching, some by reading, others by listening, and a few by doing. Each had their own unique approach to learning, their own preferred style. Similarly, your customer base isn’t a monolithic entity. Each customer has their unique preferences when it comes to consuming content.
Some may favor reading in-depth blogs, others may enjoy watching videos, some might find infographics more engaging, while others might prefer listening to podcasts during their commute or attending interactive webinars.
Therefore, just as a skilled teacher adapts their teaching methods to meet the diverse learning needs of their students, you too need to diversify your content formats. Consider it as speaking different languages to connect with different segments of your audience. The more languages you speak, the broader your reach. However, the key is not to blindly create varied content but to experiment, analyze, and understand what truly resonates with your audience.
Consider using surveys or polls to gather feedback on your content. Track engagement metrics to see what types of content strategy get the most interaction. Use A/B testing to compare the effectiveness of different content formats. Your customers will guide you, through their engagement and feedback, towards the formats they prefer.
But diversity of format is just one part of the equation. Accessibility and digestibility of your content are equally vital. Your aim is to educate, and for that, your content must be easily understandable and engaging. Break down complex topics into smaller, manageable chunks. Use clear and concise language – this isn’t a race to showcase jargon or complex terminologies. Remember, the best teachers are those who can simplify the most complicated topics.
And don’t underestimate the power of visuals. A well-designed infographic can present a wealth of information in an easily digestible and engaging manner. Videos can bring your product to life and demonstrate its use in real-world scenarios. Even within written content, visuals like images, diagrams, or flowcharts can break the monotony and improve understanding.
The journey of learning about your product should not be a daunting climb but a pleasant stroll. It should be as simple, as enjoyable, and as enlightening as possible. So, as you craft your content, don your teacher’s hat, step into your audience’s shoes, and create content that enlightens, engages, and empowers.
Step 4: The Homework – Engaging Your Customers
Think back to your school days. Did the learning cease the moment you stepped out of the classroom?
Of course not. It continued at home, as you worked through homework assignments, reinforcing and deepening the understanding you’d gained in class.
In much the same way, the education of your customers shouldn’t conclude once they’ve consumed a piece of your content. True learning, the kind that resonates and sticks, is a process, not a one-time event.
This is where you introduce the ‘homework’ for your customers. But don’t worry, we’re not talking about burdening them with complex assignments or stringent deadlines. This homework comes in the form of engagement – interactive content like quizzes, surveys, challenges, or even user-generated content initiatives.
Encourage your customers to put the knowledge they’ve garnered into practice. Ask them questions related to your content, seek their opinions, spark conversations on your forums or social media platforms. The aim is to keep the momentum of learning going, to cement the concepts you’ve introduced, and to encourage a deeper understanding.
A quiz, for example, isn’t just a fun activity. It can be a powerful tool to reinforce the key takeaways from your content. A survey, on the other hand, can be a valuable source of feedback, helping you understand what your customers found valuable, what they didn’t, and what they’d like to learn next. An interactive challenge could invite your customers to apply your product in a unique way, stimulating creativity and engagement.
However, it’s important to remember that in this classroom of content marketing, education is a two-way street. As much as you’re teaching your customers, you should also be learning from them. Pay close attention to their feedback, their queries, their discussions. Are they struggling with a particular concept? Are they asking questions that your content hasn’t addressed? Are they offering insights or ideas that you hadn’t considered?
This dialogue with your customers, this open channel of communication, is a goldmine of insights. It can guide you towards the areas your customers are interested in, highlight the gaps in your content, and reveal the opportunities for further education. By listening to your customers and by making them an active part of the learning journey, you can continuously refine your content strategy, making it more targeted, more relevant, and more effective.
Remember, the journey of educating your customers is a dynamic, interactive process. It isn’t just about delivering lessons but about fostering a vibrant, engaging learning community. So, assign that ‘homework’, spark those discussions, and turn your content marketing strategy into an ongoing, engaging educational experience.
Content Marketing Strategy Planner
Some Real World Content Marketing Examples:
Here are a few content marketing examples of retailers that are utilizing educational content marketing to engage their customers:
Home Depot: Home Depot is an excellent example of a retailer that uses educational content marketing effectively. Their website and YouTube channel are filled with ‘how-to’ guides and DIY projects ranging from fixing a leaky faucet to installing a new floor. These resources empower customers to take on projects themselves, but also subtly suggest the tools and materials they need – which can conveniently be purchased from Home Depot.
Sephora: Sephora, the multinational chain of personal care and beauty stores, offers a wealth of educational content to their customers. They host in-store classes and tutorials, and their website and YouTube channel provide a range of makeup and skincare tutorials. Sephora’s “Beauty Insider Community” also provides a platform for customers to ask questions and share tips, further fostering a sense of learning and engagement.
REI: REI (Recreational Equipment Inc), an outdoor retail corporation, is dedicated to educating their customers. They offer classes and events on outdoor activities like hiking, biking, camping, and more. They also provide extensive educational online content marketing on topics ranging from outdoor survival skills to gear maintenance. Their “Expert Advice” section features articles, videos, checklists, and guides on various outdoor topics.
By educating their customers, these retailers not only assist them in making informed buying decisions, but they also position themselves as authorities in their respective fields, fostering trust and loyalty among their customer base.
Conclusion: The Graduation – Empowered Customers
In the end, the aim of education is to empower the students, to equip them with knowledge and skills that enable them to navigate the world. Similarly, the goal of educating your customers is to empower them – to make informed decisions, to understand the value your product offers, to become advocates for your brand.
In the vast sea of marketing, content that educates is a lighthouse guiding customers to your brand. It’s an investment in building trust, fostering relationships, and cultivating a loyal customer base. It’s not just about marketing your product, but about enriching your customers’ lives with valuable knowledge.
So, let’s don our teaching hats, step into this new classroom, and embrace the exciting task of educating our customers. Because when our customers learn, we learn. And that’s a lesson worth teaching.