What’s the best content marketing activity that a marketer can engage in? Excellent question.
Being a marketing professional in today’s digital world can be incredibly challenging. We know we’re supposed to be segmenting our audience, creating personas, and then ‘content marketing’ to them – but what’s the best way to deliver that content? Long form blog articles? Video posts on Instagram or Snapchat? White papers? With new digital platforms and tools popping up constantly, it’s hard to tell which ones to devote the most time and resources to, and how to analyze all the data that each generates.
The pace of innovation in the field is so fast that as one expert in New York told me after a panel discussion on digital marketing, “This information (about digital marketing platforms) will be obsolete in about 6 months.” OK then. Sounds like simply keeping abreast of the field can be a full time job. And it is, but don’t let that make you take your eye off the ball.
Your marketing strategy must still include the tried and true. You can try all the new social media platforms you want, but at the end of the day don’t forget to keep executing on the “old school” marketing tactics. Because they work. You have to execute them well, and then yes, use the new digital platforms to augment, track, and analyze them, but they’re by far the top performers.
So have we piqued your curiosity? Ready to learn what the most effective form of content marketing is today? Which one of the following do you think it is?:
- Long form blog/website articles
- Frequent posts and engagement across social platforms (of infographics, helpful info, etc.)
- Video posts on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook
- Events – user groups, custom appreciation outings, trade shows, etc.
- Press releases and white papers
We kind of gave the answer away by saying it’s old school – the answer is D) Events. Yes that’s right, events. Or, as called now: Experiential Marketing, or Experiential Brand Activation, or IRL Marketing (short for “In Real Life” Marketing). No matter what you call them, it’s in-person face-to-face events that are the best way to connect with your target audience, particularly in the B2B world. But don’t take my word for it, hear it from the expert:
“In every year since we’ve been producing our content marketing research, in-person events are rated as the most effective content marketing activity. Such an amazing opportunity for any-sized brand.” – Joe Pulizzi, chief executive, Content Marketing Institute
That pretty much says it all, coming from the person with all the data. But to add umph to that, I recently heard a marketing expert from Google mention, and I paraphrase here, that “Events are the original social experience. It’s the immersive experience that really builds the brand and the connection with the audience.”
To you, the marketer or business owner, note that of particular value are unique events that you create for your own brand. Here’s a great example of some kickass IRL marketing, which is at the high end of the budget scale, but still serves as a great example of what we should be shooting for:
Experiential Marketing Case Study
A few years ago, AirBnB executed some experiential brand activation at SXSW (that’s South By Southwest in Austin, TX for those not up on their acronyms – a major annual event for technology, film, and music). Since AirBnB was still fairly new, their target audience was young professional ‘influencers’ in the United States. (I.e. not just young professionals with disposable income, but the cool kids, the leaders of that demographic, the ones who influence their peer groups.) That demographic led AirBnB straight to SXSW, arguably ground zero for this demographic. A perfect event for AirBnB not only to find their target audience, but also because hotels sell out in Austin for SXSW months in advance, creating huge demand for alternate housing.
With a budget of $1.2mm, they created a 5-day activation event by building a 12,000 sq. ft. pop-up neighborhood in a parking lot downtown near one of the SXSW locations. They laid down astro-turf, built picket fences, put 3 houses up that were fully-functional mini-houses, and had a celebrity host in each house: Alan Stone in one, Capital Cities in another, and ready for this..Snoop Dog in the third. Then they set up lemonade stands, coffee stands, a popsicle stand with hemp-milk popsicles and other cool flavors from a local company, a barber shop where you could actually get a haircut or your hair braided, a bloody mary stand, harmonica lessons, marching bands, an artist who used brain waives and a funky machine to blow up ballons, and to round it all out some morning yoga sessions. Not too bad!
Imagine being a South-By attendee wandering around the sweltering heat of Austin and stumbling upon this? They were literally an oasis in the middle of hot and sweaty SXSW where people could come in for free, hang out and freshen up. Like grabbing a hemp-milk popsicle and saying hi to Snoop Dog! AMAZING, right?! And guess how these young influencers expressed their amazement and “pumped-ness”? By immediately posting on social media of course, and reaching thousands of consumers right in the cross hairs of AirBnB’s target demographic. With all the AirBnB branding in the images and videos being posted, and of course the hashtag. Not too shabby.
Now of course most of us don’t have a budget of $1.2mm for one event. Only the lucky few have that. But we can use this as a great example of how it’s done and what we’re shooting for, even if on a smaller scale. It can be as simple as creating a nice customer appreciation event at a local hang, or exhibiting at a trade show for your target audience. This latter one is especially valuable for B2B businesses. The point is to just get out there and create those face-to-face interactions, and the digital will happen as a result.
When you do stage those events, don’t forget to give people a reason and opportunity to post to social media. Get creative! Stage something fun and memorable that’s worthy of a snapshot, with your brand featured or in the background. And this will be your most effective form of content marketing.