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"The Hour" in iPod touch, at Starbucks
Image by CanadaPenguin via Flickr

If I read one more time how “content is king” I think I’m going to throw up.

The problem? That statement is absolutely correct.

Engagement and interaction with customers is all about content. That’s the concept upon which Raidious was conceived and built, so of course we’re going to tell you that. And of course we can back it up with data and case studies.

But don’t take our word for it: ask Starbucks; ask Apple; ask Volkswagen. Ask all the most widely recognized, most beloved, most valuable brands with the most passionate customers and they’ll tell you the same thing.

Starbucks

What started as a humble little seafront coffee house has turned into a global lifestyle enterprise. Visit their website and you’ll do more than learn about coffee: you’re immersed in a culture that includes music, home appliances, gifts, charity and more.

They have scads of custom-generated content, all written by and for Starbucks and operating much more like a lifestyle magazine than a corporate website. The front page of their website changes daily, with new videos highlighting Starbucks-supported community programs–much of it user-submitted. The music section even includes free downloadable mixes.

All this is just the tip of the mocha freeze, providing a completely immersive experience with a consistent tone and relevant content designed to appeal to their customer base. The bulk of the site has no real concrete relation to coffee products. As the old saying goes, they’re selling the sizzle, not the steak.

(In an act of true synergy, there’s even a Starbucks iPhone app.)

Apple

Who doesn’t know about the Apple experience? Love it or hate it, it’s more than just computers and iPods: it’s a lifestyle. Everything about Apple’s site is designed to emphasize this fact. They don’t need to deliver a hard sell on their products to the in-crowd.

Their well of content runs deep and wide, especially in the Pro section, which is dedicated to musicians, videographers, photographers, designers and artists. From magazine-style profiles of creators and innovators to sections like “Insights and Ideas” and “Techniques,” Apple is emphasizing the individual user’s connection with a greater universe of creativity and exploration.

Volkswagen

A car is a mode of transportation. A VW is a lifestyle object. By driving one you are instantly part of a community, and you’re displaying your aesthetics and politics to the world. VW’s site takes a slightly more direct tone with the “Experience VW” section, which includes VW events around the world, the VW Club, and online accessory shopping.

Can you think of another mass-market consumer product that mere ownership entitles you to membership of an exclusive and enthusiastic club? It suggests that driving a VW is more than just a purchasing decision: it’s a voluntary act of solidarity with those who share your point of view. They’ve moved from customers to fans to an audience of advocates, and those are the people who will do your marketing for you.

Summary

Once is a rumor, twice is a trend, three times is a fact. But don’t let that stop you from finding out more. Check out this list of the top 100 most valuable brands in the world. Pick 10 or 20 that have maniacally passionate customers and you’ll find the same things outlined above:

  • Deep content
  • High levels of engagement

Now that we’ve let the results speak for themselves, ask yourself:

  • What are my company’s content needs?

  • How can we produce this content?

  • How do we integrate it into our existing marketing and communications efforts?

Then drop us a line or call us. We’d be glad to help. Because we figured all these things out and built a company around it.

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