For decades, companies have relied solely on the performance of their products to satisfy their customers. And with great success. According to current surveys, corporate and private customers in the outdoor industry are extremely satisfied with their suppliers.
However, the often one-sided focus on performance, growing intensity of competition, and the huge range of products have led to customers often no longer recognizing any differences between the various offers. As a result, even satisfied customers buy from the competition if it is cheaper or more convenient for them.
With successful content marketing, companies can counteract this trend and turn customers into fans.
Nowadays, companies can rarely set themselves apart from their competitors by increasing their performance. Therefore, clever content marketing is required that focuses on the emotional attachment of the customer to the product, the brand or the company.
Through a consistent focus on his individual needs, the satisfied customer becomes a loyal fan, who is highly committed to the brand and also makes this solidarity known to the world. "Only when people identify with the product and perceive it as unique, the brand becomes tangible for them," reveals media expert Svenja Walter.
"Many companies ask themselves the wrong questions when developing their digital content," Walter continues. The discussion usually focuses on the own company and the entrepreneurial needs and wishes. "Far too seldom people ask what the customer actually thinks and feels when he looks at the content. And that alone will give you range."
If you want to make your customers fans and your brand more accessible, you should ask the following questions and incorporate the answers into your content strategy:
- Who is my customer?
- How did the customer become one?
- Where does the customer come from?
- What's important to the customer?
- What can we learn from the customer?
- What else is the customer up to?
Content has added value, when it not only focuses on the customer, but also enables him to interact beyond that. "The content should give the company the opportunity to talk to people about their dreams, wishes and needs," says Svenja Walter. Because only if the customer can make a personal contribution, the brand becomes tangible for him and a long-term relationship develops.
A good example of this is the #optoutside hashtag campaign by the American outdoor retailer REI. Almost four years ago, the company decided to give its 12,000 employees a day off on Black Friday and send its customers on an outdoor trip. The retailer provided ideas for possible excursion destinations on a website. The campaign was a huge success.
170 other companies joined the movement. There were billions of media and social impressions. On Instagram, REI has now more than eleven million hashtag entries and there is a vast community.
The REI campaign is also a successful example of perfect community building. "More and more companies are realizing that it is worth providing a platform for exchange as well as moderating the community. These are sustainable investments that bind customers for the long term," explains Svenja Walter.
This simultaneously creates a direct line to the consumer, there is constant feedback on marketing and products, thus recommendations are made naturally.
"The easiest way for people to interact with corporate content is to tell them an understandable story that reminds them of their own lives and challenges," reveals the social media expert. Such stories are often referred to as "hero's journeys" and follow a dramaturgical pattern that is also the basis of many well-known books and Hollywood films: The hero receives a call to adventure, leaves his comfort zone and meets a mentor, with whose support he passes numerous adventures, to finally return as a new human being - strengthened - to his old world.
Almost all big campaigns - like "Rule Yourself“ by Michael Phelps with Under Armour or "Just do it“ by Serena Williams with Nike - but also books like Harry Potter or fairy tales like Cinderella follow this pattern. The characteristics of such a story are perfectly suited to showcase complicated content in a simple way and to activate, emotionalize, inspire, and bind the recipients.