What do Apple, Wegmans and AAA have in common? They're all primarily B-to-C companies, yes, but they all also leverage editorial-style information as a commercial touchpoint. Welcome to what's being called content marketing, a practice commonplace in the B-to-B space but that is beginning to gain legs as a B-to-C marketing strategy.
Take this month's cover story on Spring-Green Lawn Care, a lawn and tree care service that supports its franchise network in local markets with educational articles, podcasts and a glossary. These content tools help the franchisees attract customers, educate them on how to take care of their lawns and trees, encourage them to sign up for service, and then even entice them to come back for more information as customers, priming them for not just retention but upsells and cross-sells.
The company's content marketing strategy largely plays out online, via search engine optimization and paid search. But given the anticipated challenges of paid search costs, Spring-Green is more focused on what SEO can do for its brand and sales. So, it's not just the '80s fashions that are back in style right now, but also the '90s-era concept of Web site stickiness.
Connecting with customers over content ties in to more than just online marketing activities, however. This material also can be delivered through other channels, such as American Express' recent educational direct mail piece. The financial services giant mailed a 6˝ x 9˝ envelope package to members of its OPEN network, its products and services line for small businesses. The mailing includes a four-page guide, titled Building and Protecting Business Credit, and a one-page letter that introduces the guide and provides recipients with a toll-free phone number and URL for access to more OPEN member resources. While American Express puts out a good deal of information for small businesses online (it recently launched a Twitter feed called Pulse), it recognizes that not all of its customers and prospects can be reached online. A good content marketing strategy takes all distribution channels into consideration, even face-to-face meetings with salespeople.