Content Marketing and Volkswagen

Volkswagen Winter Driving Ad

Content marketing – everybody’s talking about it, but how many of us are doing it? I can think of a couple of related reasons why many of us (and I certainly include myself here) have failed to exploit this approach to marketing:

  1. Time and resource – it’s the same old same old, but doing content marketing well is going to take a lot longer than tweaking a few Adwords or producing a new glossy flyer,
  2. Lack of data showing its value.

These two problems are related because, unless you’ve tried it already you don’t have the data to show it worked – and hence don’t want to invest heavily.

Firstly, as I’ve said before, if you’re not measuring what you’re doing, you really have no idea if you’re wasting your time or not. One of my favourite posts from this year was the following:

In it Jason Falls argues that, essentially, if you’re not providing statistically valid data showing the impact of your work then, quite frankly, why are you bothering?

But this is classic chicken-and-egg. We haven’t tried proper, measured content marketing yet, so we don’t know whether it works yet. The first time always requires a little faith. Also, as argued by Jason – don’t believe others’ stories of silver and gold: you need to prove this approach works at your organisation.

So the point is, it’s an investment. But if you do it well – who knows? I found the following graphic on the excellent Drew’s Marketing Minute:

The content marketing matrix

(by first10. Check out their data visualization blog.)

I have this chart printed out next to my desk and a lot of these are great activities. However, if I had to pick only one, and I was feeling ambitious, I might try the item in the bottom-left – “Guides”. I think one of the best examples of this sort of pure content marketing (“pure” in the sense that it’s almost wholly devoid of marketing spiel), is the type of campaign Volkswagen have been running for a while (and thanks to my colleague for pointing these out). I love:

Sure, they’re selling their accessories in parts, but the vast majority of this is just straight-up great advice about driving in the snow. What do you take away from this? That VW care about you as a driver, that they understand the importance of car safety and that they are worthy of your trust. Of course a lot of this material applies whether you’re driving a VW, Ford or Ferrari Testarossa, but that just doesn’t matter. Well done VW – could you think of something similar for your widget or service?

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