Coke Takes a Big Gulp of Content Marketing
If you needed any further convincing that content marketing is the wave of the future, look no further than last week’s Ad Week. The well respected ad industry tabloid ran a major editorial column with the following headline: “PepsiCo Exec Fears the Agency Model Won’t Bend, but May Break. Says shops aren’t changing with the times”. If you’re observing these changes, it isn’t hard to see that Content Marketing is the real thing! (Thanks for the loan of your famous tag-line, Coke!)
As the article explains, traditional ad agencies bubble up "four pieces of content a year, each taking about four months to make". But consumers are drinking from different media fountains these days. Brands who have remained fluid with their consumers changing media habits are producing between 400 and 4,000 content pieces per year, in contrast. The big agencies, spoiled on super-sweet marketing budgets, are accustomed to charging up to $2 million for a single 30-second spot whereas healthy and lean content agencies are telling new customer engagement brand stories for as little as $20,000 per year.
Meanwhile, across the proverbial aisle at Coca Cola, brand marketers have completely embraced Content Marketing!
First, take a look at what Coca Cola is saying to their internal army of brand marketers:
Now that you’ve drunk in this amazing bit of small business marketing strategy, let’s take a closer look inside Coke’s strategic bottle.
Coca-Cola’s premise is that they are going to dominate the hearts and minds of their consumers by ‘creating ideas so contagious they cannot be controlled’. A bit later, the narrator says that Coca-Cola’s content marketing initiative is going to link Coca-Cola’s business objectives (written in bold, 20-point dollar signs), brands and customers interests. What’s he alluding to?
As pointed elsewhere on Thrive, content marketing replaces the worn-out feature/ benefit driven, brand-focused consumer messages of the past with new stories that have everything to do with the brands’ clear understanding of what their consumers are passionate about. By making the consumer the focal point, Coke has an opportunity to recapture their consumers’ hearts and minds, which is expressed in brand loyalty. However, they’re also going to do it by show-casing how naturally all their brands perfectly fit the lifestyles of their consumers. The products won’t overtly be the ‘stars’ of these productions, their consumers will. But by ensuring that its brands are always in the picture, the implied message will be that ‘these stories aren’t complete without our products’.
Coke is also leveraging the most important aspect of the new media – the fact that their consumers themselves play vital roles in telling their own stories. Digital is the great democratizing force in our landscape. Anyone with a computer, smart phone or tablet can create and publish their own stories! In fact, the videos own narrator says ‘consumer generated stories outnumber Coke generated stories on most of our brands.’ Everyone knows that word of mouth is the strongest form of advertising. Since it comes from other consumers, its perceived as more objective and more reliable. Coke is simply going to co-opt these stories for its own advantage! But it’s also going to go well beyond doing that. Their tactical plan calls for ‘acting and reacting to those conversations 365 days per year. I can imagine a vast team of content marketers both internal to Coca-Cola and external in its partner agencies swimming in massive kettles of content analytics and creating tactical plans to both influence and leverage the abundance of brand and consumer generated content.
And what will be the impact of all this new and exciting work? Coca Cola, one of the world’s best known brands, believes it’s going to double its business!
In a way, content marketing is to traditional advertising what punk rock was to music in the 1970’s. Back then, you didn’t need to be a great musician or a great singer to generate a loyal following – in fact, the more earthy and untrained (we might say ‘authentic’) the band was, the more legit. Those punk pioneers were creating something new and fresh (honest and passionate and reflective of their scene according to their fans) compared to the dinosaurs they replaced (the prog rock bands and disco) and that’s why it caught fire.
And you don’t need any fancy, expensive hardware to produce it. Your smart phone will do just fine, thank you. For an example, Tangerine is a movie that was showcased at the Sundance Film Festival this past year. It was produced on an iPhone 5S using an $8.00 (yes, that’s eight-dollars) app. (This is the same smart phone you can use for your social media posts – so the point isn’t lost.) Tangerine rests mostly on great story telling that its audience relates to in the same way that punk songs were about people and events that its followers felt a part of. Your stories should also reflect your customers lives while sharing your brand, demonstrating the requisite skills and competencies and helping your audience solve their challenges. When you do this, you’ll benefit in the same ways Coca-Cola knows it will benefit.
Your customers will become your advocates. Your stories will have influence on prospects and the decisions they are making. Best of all, your business will grow. Coke isn’t achieving these things so much because of what they are going to do – though they are going to do it well like they always have – but because this is how people are wired. As long as there have been communities, there have been story tellers. Internet is just the new medium for storytelling. Be a story teller and prosper!