Content innovation - the customer comes first

26 September 2012

This comment piece was originally published in Marketing Week on 26th September as part of its content marketing special feature. 

There’s often a temptation with content marketing to think about the next big innovation or technology without actually thinking about what it could mean for the customer. It’s vital that content is always relevant and empowering to customers regardless of the technology used. 

For example, we recently created a cover to cover augmented reality (AR) issue of the Real Food magazine that we produce for Tesco; the first food magazine to use the technology. But rather than doing gimmicky stuff on just a handful of pages, we used AR consistently throughout the magazine to create a useful experience for customers. Every page was augmented with click-to-buys or content linked to video tips and how-to demonstrations. It was all built around how to make the customer’s experience simpler and more enjoyable. This was effective multi-channel content in its truest form. 

The same is true of content used on social media as social dialogue. A lot of brands think they need to have a social media presence. However the bigger question is how will that conversation benefit the customers they want to talk to? A brand’s social media presence should be a personality with which people want to engage and simultaneously create a dialogue that enables customers. For example, our Live Food Chats on the Tesco Facebook page let customers pose their questions to food experts. We ran a Back to School chat recently and it really epitomised the Real Food mantra of ‘Family Meals Made Easy’. This is a great example of how content can actually become customer service by making life easier for people 

Research from the CMA reveals that regular readers of the retailer’s title have a higher average weekly shopping spend than their non-regular reading counterparts. I think this goes back to the nature of these magazines and the fact that they create a degree of loyalty, through the useful content they feature, that other kinds of marketing can’t match. It comes back to marketing that really does something new rather than just saying the same old thing. It’s this marketing which really delivers commercial success. 

Effective content marketing is focused on enabling customers, rather than just projecting a brand message. So the uplift in spend comes from the fact that customers feel empowered and savvy; they know they can make the money go further with retailers, thanks to the know-how they’ve attained from the content available to them. 

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