What is Content Marketing?

“Share a Coke” campaign case study

Do you remember the “Share a Coke” campaign? You know, the one that made you search high and low for a Coca Cola bottle or can with your first name on it. This campaign was originally launched in Australia in 2011 and was created to inspire shared moments between consumers along with personal relationships with consumers.

Initially, only the top 150 most popular names were printed onto millions of bottles, but as the campaign’s popularity grew, customers began to vote on the next names rolled out. Then, other countries around the world adopted the campaign with its own unique twist. Before Coke knew it, their campaign had become an overnight sensation.

At its very core, the “Share a Coke” campaign is a prime example of content marketing. It demonstrates how strategic marketing can be used to reach your target audience and boost sales. Coke planned, created, distributed, shared, and published content, and they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

Content marketing is an effective technique used by top brands and small businesses alike. Let’s jump right in and take a look at what content marketing is and why you should implement it for your company.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach that utilizes planning, creating, distributing, sharing, and publishing content to reach a target audience. The goal of content marketing is to increase brand awareness, boost sales, extend reach, improve interactions, and develop customer loyalty.

How is content marketing different from traditional advertising?

What most people find difficult to understand about content marketing is how it differs from traditional advertising. After all, if “content is king,” what have companies been marketing with all these years?

Traditional advertising is interruptive and allows marketers to push out their message in front of their audience — regardless of whether or not they want to see it. Traditional advertising rushes at consumers in the form of newspaper ads, magazine ads, billboards, radio ads, television ads, and direct mailings.

On the other hand, content marketing is much more subtle. This marketing is entertaining and educational. It draws in customers through storytelling, articles, blog posts, newsletters, emails, quizzes, infographics, videos, and podcasts. Content marketing offers consumers value and thereby makes them appreciate your company’s existence. You’re not advertising directly to your customers. You’re offering them something in your marketing that helps them feel connected to your brand.

Content marketing also excels through avenues like a company or outside blog, social media sites, YouTube, and online articles. These formats have only become more available in the past two decades, and companies are taking advantage of them.

There are a few other ways that you may distinguish content marketing from traditional advertising:

Short-term v. Long-term

Traditional advertising operated on the idea that a customer would see the ad and be enticed to buy the product immediately. But…who actually does this? Conversely, content marketing doesn’t worry about selling a product each and every time they get in front of their customer. Companies who focus on this strategy know that the best way to their customers’ wallets is by providing valuable content.

Talking to v. Talking with

Traditional advertising talks to customers. There’s no dialogue or relationship. It’s just a litany of benefits of a product or service. Content marketing, especially on social media, allows customers to respond, engage, interact, and get involved. You can gauge interest in certain topics or ask for feedback on new ideas. It allows you to cater your marketing and campaigns to your audience instead of telling them what you think they want you to hear.

Showing v. Nurturing

A great example of traditional advertising is a car dealership commercial. Within seconds, you know all about the business and product that is being sold to you. The person on the screen is talking at you, telling you what you could have, and showing you the price tag for it.

Content marketing is the opposite. It’s a slower process, and it targets customers who have an interest in your industry. By producing content that they find useful or interesting, you create and nurture a relationship with them. You provide value and keep them coming back.

General v. Targeted

Traditional advertising is about getting your message in front of as many people as possible. Content marketing targets a specific group of individuals. Before putting out a content marketing campaign, businesses will research that specific audience and look at trends that do well among that group. The more they know about them, the greater chance they have of boosting engagement, getting new sales, developing customer loyalty, and more!

Why is content marketing important?

  1. Increases audience retention: Content marketing is generally a positive experience for customers and keeps them coming back.
  2. Helps social media traction: If you’re looking for ways to boost your following on social media, quality content marketing can help you attract people who want to learn about topics related to your products or services.
  3. Establishes trust with your audience. With content marketing, you’re not constantly marketing at people. You’re talking with them and not to them. This helps individuals feel confident in your exchange. When you’re creating value without expecting anything in return, they’ll ultimately trust your advice, recommendations, and product.
  4. Generates leads. Content — especially in the form of blogs, newsletters, emails, etc. — can help guide users to landing pages.
  5. Enhances SEO. High-quality content boosts SEO and helps your business become more visible online. For small businesses and unknown brands, having strong SEO can differentiate you from your competition.

How did the “Share a Coke” Campaign nail it?

Coca-Cola started its own content marketing efforts nearly a decade ago. Their goal was to entice teens and young adults that loved Coca-Cola to reengage with their brand. Even though research showed popularity among that group, they weren’t getting the sales where they needed them.

The “Share a Coke” campaign was ultimately about storytelling. It was about reconnecting with an audience and doing it through their product without just saying “Coke is good, go buy one.” When the marketing team debuted the “Share a Coke” campaign, it was an instant hit. It focused on giving a Coke to another person (in case you couldn’t find your own name) and became a way to connect with people — particularly loved ones — who were far from you.

In fact, even though social media wasn’t quite a strong as it is today, it ignited snaps across mediums like Instagram. Blogs were covering it. Their digital experience even enabled people to send a virtual Coke to someone else via Facebook. Looking back, the creative excellent lead for Coke has said that they’d probably spend a fraction of what they spent on TV if they did the campaign today. It just wasn’t necessary; it was incredibly successful without traditional advertising techniques.

Share a Coke proved that focusing your marketing resources on what your audience values is worth it.

Casey Botticello

Thanks for reading this article! Leave a comment below if you have any questions, and if you want to learn more about blogging, content marketing, and social media strategy, be sure to sign up for the Blogging Guide Newsletter!

Casey Botticello is a partner at Black Edge Consulting. Black Edge Consulting is a strategic communications firm, specializing in online reputation management, digital marketing, and crisis management. Prior to founding Black Edge Consulting, he worked for BGR Group, a bipartisan lobbying and strategic communications firm.

Casey is the founder of the Cryptocurrency Alliance, a Super PAC dedicated to cryptocurrency and blockchain advocacy. He is a graduate of The University of Pennsylvania, where he received his B.A. in Urban Studies.

You can connect with him on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or by following his Medium publication, Digital Marketing Lab.

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