September 12, 2017

Andrew Knoblack  Hs

Content marketing is a lot like telling a great story at a cocktail party.

Let me set the scene for you, and for the sake of this party let’s lay on the elegance. In a parlor on East Avenue, a bartender behind an oak bar serves a Finger Lakes Riesling to one guest and a Manhattan to another. Women circulate the room in flowing dresses, the men in black ties. A mixture of laughter, clinking glasses and a string quartet set the mood.

That’s when you walk in. Let’s freeze here, shall we?

Your goal is to have a great time, meet new people and enjoy a drink. Much like content marketing, you’re not here to bring the boredom. Your stories need to entertain those listening. In this context, “entertain” is broad. It can mean laughter, tears, gasps, clapping or a smirk to rival that of Leonardo Dicaprio’s in The Wolf on Wall Street.

This probably isn’t the best place to tell a story about the inner workings of a rotary telephone (though there is a time and place for that as well). Remember, you’re at a party. You only have someone’s attention for so long.

But before you can entertain them, you need to understand your audience. What drives them? What scares them? What motivates them? At the beginning of each day, they put their pants on one leg at a time, just like you. They have mortgages. They have good days and bad. In short, they are people. So yes, you need to understand how to entertain them, but there’s something more important that needs to happen.

Talk to them like a real person. This is where marketers sometimes fall short. They use “buzz words” or industry terms that aren’t relatable to most people. Instead of forcing business jargon, focus on being relatable and relevant. If you find a guest who loves Game of Thrones, drop your favorite Jon Snow conspiracy theories instead of forcing a conversation about KPIs and Facebook’s latest whatever. Talk to them about what they’re interested in and build that relationship.

Building relationships is the whole kit and caboodle in content marketing. You (or your brand) becomes a trusted source of information. Someone will then decide to opt in to you so they can continue to hear from you on the subjects they care about. Once it is time for them to purchase a product in your vertical (even if it’s not for two years) they will most likely come to you first because you’ve worked hard to build that trust.

Sidebar, how great would it be to have an opt out option at a party?

Need an example of building loyalty? Let’s take my favorite grocery store, and potentially the greatest place on earth, Wegmans. Menu Magazine is published two or three times per year and is packed with recipes, stories and more. Story after story, Wegmans provides shoppers like me useful information that will help me lead a healthier life. Why would I shop anywhere else? It’s a long-lasting relationship that Wegmans will be able to capitalize on.

Grab your drink, tip the bartender and go tell a great story. Find what’s relevant to your audience, entertain them, treat them like real people and build fruitful relationships.

Andrew Knoblauch is a content marketing and social media supervisor here at Dixon Schwabl. Follow him on Twitter (@AndrewKnoblauch) and hear him on our One More Thing podcast.