Monthly Archives: October 2013

In marketing, is content king? No, great content is the real king.

For food and beverage marketers, connecting with and engaging consumers has become the major thrust of most marketing initiatives. Online advertising, email, and particularly social media, have proven themselves to be much more than the promotional “flavor of the year“, and with good reason. They facilitate personal, one-on-one interaction with consumers, and foster brand awareness and trust. But there is one very big caveat marketers need to know:  it is not the quantity of content a brand puts forth . . . it’s the quality of that content that drives successful marketing.

In food and beverage marketing, what defines great content? Here are three key questions to ask in developing content that will build and strengthen brands through consumer engagement with a brand’s website, online advertising, email and social media marketing campaigns.

1. What’s the value?

If a brand is going to ask consumers to read and respond to its messages and content, that content has to be of value to the consumer audience. For food marketers, it’s more than claiming superior product attributes. What’s in it for consumers? Content of value provides useful information and unique insights into the food product and its variety of uses. Recipes, serving suggestions, targeted nutritional information…all of these subjects provide food marketers with a rich source of content that is of value to consumers and can enrich their experiences  in using food products. Great content is written from the perspective of consumers’ interests and needs for relevant information. While incentives to purchase a product can be incorporated into audience-focused content with a direct response mechanism, great content is not simply a self-serving sales pitch.

2. Where’s the audience?

In developing great content, it is important to understand where the target audience is “hanging out” online. This knowledge not only ensures that the target audience will actually have an opportunity to see a brand’s content, it also sets the tone and feel of the content. A food brand’s choice of venue for its content speaks volumes about the brand’s understanding of its core consumers and how to reach them. Misplaced content serves no purpose no matter how good the content may be. The right venue is one that the target audience already regularly visits and trusts, allowing a marketer to leverage existing trust between the venue and the audience.

3. What’s the purpose?

Food marketers should consider this question from two perspectives. Developing content that is meaningful and engaging to the target audience is the first perspective, but it is equally important to consider the brand’s strategic goals. Food marketers need to be cautious about topics that might garner a great deal of attention, a sensational headline or topic for example, but the content does not really align with the brand’s strategic goals. The purpose of great content is to provide relevant information to the target audience while supporting the brand’s core strategic goals. Generating an audience of “curiosity seekers” through content that does not really align with brand values serves no purpose.

If you can answer these questions, you’re on your way to developing content that will engage your consumers and differentiate your brand from competitors. In food marketing, there is a need for both self-promoting advertising and content marketing. What’s really important is understanding the difference and using each of these tools effectively.

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Rules for successful social branding.

There is no “one way” to build and maintain a great food and beverage brand, but there are some marketing rules that will really help in successful social branding.

Find the fit. In social media,  marketers have very few precious seconds to capture audience attention. Consumers may know some things about your brand, but there is also some information that is missing…information that completes the brand’s relevance for your target audience. That piece of information should be the focal point of your message. It is the hook that draws consumers to your brand emotionally. Find that fit and consumers will reward you…miss that fit and you become just another message to be summarily ignored. It’s about respecting your audience’s time and attention span.

Be helpful. Marketers love to send a steady stream of communication to their target audiences, but are you sending messages that are of value or just “more of the same old blurbs”?  Ask yourself:  “Why would consumers want to regularly hear from my brand? What am I sharing with them that improves their lives?” The reasons consumers should want to connect with your brand should be obvious to them in the messages you’re sending. It’s the difference between “Like us on Facebook” and “Get delicious recipes and coupons – like us on Facebook”.

Show some personality. Since it is “social” media, it is the right time and place to showcase your brand’s personality. Consumers really connect with the human side of brands. Invite your brand fans to share their experiences with your brand…birthdays, holidays, fun with family and friends, any occasion where your brand and products have had a role in your brand fans’ lives. The only really important point to keep in mind is that you remain true to your brand’s image and use this opportunity to reinforce what your consumers have come to know about your brand. Don’t send mixed messages in an attempt to over personify the brand.

Start conversations. Social media is all about conversations, but it’s not about what you have to say about your brand.  It’s about what consumers say to you and to each other about your brand.  While you may start some conversations with interesting and brand relevant content, always encourage and make room for consumers to do the talking and sharing. Reward consumers for their social interaction with your brand by inviting them to “share their favorite recipe or brand experience with friends, and the brand may host your next big get together”.

Invite the ShareIn social media, the Share is every bit as valuable as the Like and Follow. It creates the person-to-person connection with your brand and spreads the word faster than any other vehicle. To make your brand “share worthy”, your content must be relevant and dynamic. There should always be something new and interesting going on at your brand’s social sites and website. Make sharing easy for consumers with share buttons and invitations obviously placed on all your brand communication…consumers won’t share if you don’t make it easy.

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