Content Marketing for Successful New Product Launches
Content marketing is a buzz-word heard around the Internet these days. In this article I'll explain what content marketing is and how food entrepreneurs use it in their new product launch programs and why you should consider a content marketing strategy.
What is Content Marketing
Simply stated, content marketing is a plan that focuses on creating interesting and engaging content to attract prospective buyers to your products. The content you create may address needs that buyers have in every stage of their decision to purchase specific goods.
Often called inbound marketing, content marketing uses strategic distribution of your content around the Web where your prospective buyers will find and interact with it, leading them to your products either at retailers or on your website.
What Content Marketing is Not
Content marketing is not a broadcast message or shouting to your customers, "Buy our stuff." Instead, content marketing's be all and end all is interesting, informational, or interactive content designed to address a specific buyer "problem." Content marketing is indirectly about your brand, but first, it's about your customer.
Digital Marketing for a Winning New Product Launch Campaign
- Blog posts on your own website focused on just about any aspect of the consumer's need for your product.
- Guest blog posts on other's blogs where your potential customers are reading/visiting and searching for information.
- Reviews of products on blogs devoted to specific lifestyles or topics, such as gluten-free lifestyles or general review sites such as Yelp! should be part of your new product launch (DC consider Mommy Bloggers if appropriate for you brand since they are the new force in social word of mouth )
- E-Newsletters - email marketing online
- Social media content such as posts to your business's Facebook page, Twitter or Google+ accounts
- Recipes and How-Tos posted on your website-Our client No Moo Roux used their website to share recipes using their dairy free soup and sauce mix. Their non-dairy cream soup and sauce mix is targeted towards those with dairy allergies or those who wish to limit their intake of calories. Offering recipes is the perfect way to help potential customers understand all the ways the sauce mix can be used. (DC - Kraft Foods created their iPhone Assistant that delivers recipes and how to videos to time starved consumers)
- Videos -Why just tell when you can show? Demonstrating the appeal of your company's food products during tasting events like Slatherin' Sauce does can help your prospective customers understand all the uses for your sauce.
- Presentations- going to see prospective retailers? Post your marketing presentation on Slide Share or in a virtual media room such as the ones at the Fancy Food Show.
- Photographs of your products -distribute photos of your products across the web with enticing descriptions and links back to your website. Flickr is the granddaddy site for this. Google+'s integrated photo sharing is also an up can comer because all items placed there are indexed for search.
- Pinterest Pinboards with inspirational lifestyle images that relate directly to your typical buyers' lives. BecausePinterest is a virtual vision board of content that is aspirational, be sure you share images from others' boards, perhaps even creating a shared Pinboard where others may add to the collection of images, giving you deeper insight into your buyer's lives.
Why should you use content marketing?
As a specialty food entrepreneur, you are possibly challenged with a smaller than average marketing budget, and need to "get the word out" about your company's products. You also need to rank well in search engines.
Generally, content marketing doesn't require any special tools. However it does require the ability to understand your buyer, and what problems you "solve" for your buyer. Content marketing does require that you plan.
A carefully crafted content marketing plan allows you to increase awareness and "trial" or use of your products. It can send buyers to retail outlets selling your products, or your website and can increase your search engine results pages (SERPs i.e. the pages presented to users of the web who search for specific items, goods or services.)
How to create a content marketing plan
The first thing you'll want to do is create buyer personas for your use. You may have more than one of these depending on how many products you have, and how many issues your products solve.
In the case of No Moo Roux, their product meets the needs of those with dairy allergies (one persona) and for those who wish to limit their caloric intake. Buyer personas need not be complicated, but they must specifically articulate your buyer, and the needs they have and how your product fits their needs.
As an example: "Our buyer is a time-starved, home cook on a budget who prepares dinner for his family three nights a week." Consider creating a 5 step product positioning statement to help in defining your buyer persona.
Notice that in this buyer persona, we understand all the opportunities when our buyer will be searching for information on the Internet probably using a smart phone: mid-week, later in the afternoon, on the way home from work. He'll be seeking either recipes, specials at groceries in his neighborhood or for deals and coupons to help him remain on budget. It's critical for you as a specialty food marketer that you really understand the trends affecting your buyer, their lifestyles and needs and articulate these in your personas.
Where is your customer on the web?
To find out, set up a listening campaign on Twitter or Facebook; set up a Pinterest account and begin observing how others "pin" images related to their dreams and lives; use searches in Google and observe what people are sharing, discussing and what Google presents in response to a search for information on the topic. If you want to know more about Twitter you can read my recent article on The Benefits of Twitter for Food Entrepreneurs .
Now that you understand the buyer's needs, where they seek information on the Internet and trends affecting them, you can begin to create and distribute content. Should you need a planning tool to assist you, we recommend David Meerman Scott's marketing plan template. You can download it for free. It simplifies everything and helps you get your plan organized.
Social Media Marketing means creating content
You can either hire an outside marketing consultant to help you create content or you can assign this task to yourself or an employee.
Earlier we mentioned that the tools to create and distribute content across the social Web are mostly free and while that may be true, your time is not free. Success in a content marketing program means that you calendar an editorial focus each month, and specify the precise type of content you will create (blog posts, videos, testimonials, product reviews), the date/time and where it will be distributed.
Get the team involved
Not everyone is a good writer or social media conversationalist. So while you may be the entrepreneur behind the company, it just might be that your sales manager might have a better ability to write customer-centric blog content or manage your Facebook page. Invite members of your team to "audition" by inviting each one to write a series of Facebook posts or Twitter updates or a short blog post.
If you hire an outside content marketing consultant you can have them develop strategy, content and distribute it or you can have them develop the strategy and help you learn the skills of distribution.
If you plan to represent your firm and distribute your content via social media, and have doubts about your social media skills, take online classes or read books that teach you the skills you need. Don't just assign this task to an intern. Your content marketing is as serious as your production, your finance and the bookkeeping of your accounts.
What kind of results can you expect?
My next article illustrates 2 Case Studies of Successful Content Marketing Plans.