Quality of Connections and Content Marketing

If marketing is about about building connections and relationships with the Consumers and Content Marketingconsumer, could we be changing how we define connection and relationship?

Content marketing includes curating information, creating avenues for conversation and user generated content. This week on Forbes.com, there is an interview with Julie Fleischer, Director of Content Management of Kraft Foods in which she explains how Kraft builds connections with consumers. She explained that engagement and traffic are very important but more important is identifying attributable sales growth. Fleischer has a great question for knowing if content marketing fits your organization. She asks, “What is your basis for conversation?”

“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience  – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

                                                                                 The Content Marketing Institute

Conversation, not talking at, is what creates connection in the first place

Marketing has traditionally been companies talking at us. “We’re a great company and this is a great product (or service) because…” Now, marketing includes being where your customer is. As Susan Gunelius noted in her post, “That’s because consumers build brands, not companies.” But that may be oversimplifying because the consumers need a starting point.

Healthy connections and relationships are a two-way street

Companies have to produce content that has some kind of meaning for their target audience. And this meaning has to spark some kind of action. For Kraft, having people sharing their recipes using Kraft products encourages good will, enthusiasm for the products and, of course, purchase of the products.

In a recent presentation by Clay Collins, he recommended a system where you engage with your followers to tell you what they want your next product or service to be and then sell it to them before it is even created. Through email, surveys and other channels, his system enables your consumers to get exactly what they want when they purchase from you.

Using social media sites and blogging seem to be the most natural place to have actual conversations with your customers. There is a natural give-and-take there.

Content marketing may speak to a larger sociological trend

If I am responding to the online spokesperson (or spokespersons), it would make sense that I would feel a connection to that person or persons. Much like shopping at a small business on your Main Street, you might share information or a laugh. There is a wine shop I go to occasionally. They always greet me like I’m their favorite customer. When it comes to online interactions, can you give someone that warm fuzzy feeling so they want to do business with you? If you are creating some kind of platform for people to share their experiences and uses of your product and service, are you really creating a community or a group of people with similar interests. Communities have been made up of people who some kind of relationship with one another. Connections repeated over and over create relationships. Multiply that into a network involving companies and consumers and what do you have?

*Please join us this Friday on Twitter at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT on #KaizenBiz to explore this topic further.

How is the relationship between company and consumer changing?

With content marketing, how is community defined?

Do consumers have a relationship with the product, the company or the person they are interacting with? Why?

How could using more content marketing affect our perceptions of authenticity?

If the market is perceived as fragmented, how do companies connect with their specific audience?

How do you see content marketing changing our participation in communities?