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Using Content Marketing to Show Product Evidence

By: Sarah Ban
Posted: January 24, 2013, from the March 2013 issue of GCI Magazine.

When a consumer approaches a shelf of beauty products or scrolls down to view the vast expanse of Google search results, there is invariably one common denominator: an inundation of products to choose from. And hand in hand with the deluge of products are research and scientific statements, newfangled ingredients, technological advancements and many other unique selling proposition factoids that compete to jump out and prove something to the consumer.

On a shelf, a beauty brand has minutes if not seconds to convince the customer. Unless there are point of sale brochures very near the products or a sales rep auspiciously fanatical about your brand, a beauty product relies on its packaging, or a short online product description, to persuade an on-the-spot purchase.

However, that doesn’t mean a brand can’t nurture a long-term relationship with a customer even when she is not in the act of buying. Through content marketing, a brand can convince customers of their scientific claims via a steady route to win trust over time.

What is Content Marketing?

In short, content marketing is providing prospective and existing customers with valuable information—both original and curated—to establish and build ongoing relationships to ultimately incite behavioral change. This includes consumers buying, repurchasing and acting as loyal, active brand ambassadors.

Content marketing enables brands to not only educate consumers but to befriend, empower and help them as well. And you can do this well before they’re even ready to buy.

Changing Times

The landscape of traditional advertising continues to shift drastically. Consumers no longer believe what they read on advertised statements, and this ever-increasing skepticism draws many to their smartphones, laptops and tablets to research beauty brand claims. Some log into their favorite forums, others reach out to their favorite beauty bloggers, and many go directly to Google or the brand page itself for further information. Consumers can now be virtually blind to banner ads, and access to knowledge spurs skepticism for many forms of paid advertising.

Ideally, when consumers look for information about a specific claim your product is making, they should find information from your brand, rather than from a competitor or one of the millions of uncited, under-researched articles available on the web. This is why it’s important to strategize a content marketing strategy prior to employing tactics so you can answer questions before they’re even asked.

Content marketing extends far beyond the corporate blog or e-magazine. Below are some innovative ways you can educate your customers of your scientific claims so they act as extensions of your product labels and build trust immediately and over time.

Fundamentals

First, remember a few fundamental guidelines:

  1. Content marketing is a holistic program. One piece, whether it’s a blog or a case study, is never independent. All components must make sense together and alone, and support each other.
  2. A successful content marketing campaign requires deliberation and input from the whole team, with one chief content officer as the pointperson who oversees all activities.
  3. Content marketing includes on- and offline tactics.
  4. A budget and timeframe must be established before execution. Content marketing isn’t simply finding an intern to write a few blog posts per week.
  5. Expect manageable and realistic outcomes. Content marketing is a long-term process that requires patience, retooling and constant analysis.

Strategies for Content Marketing

Go graphic. Many beauty brands use blogs to provide basic information such as “10 Tips for Dry, Winter Skin,” makeup tutorials or company updates. This is fine, but take it one step further and create regular infographics that depict the formulation process from conception to research to mass distribution, how ingredients are chosen, and/or what processes are used to create a product. You can even depict how exactly the skin reacts when a key ingredient is topically applied. You’ll need a savvy graphic artist to achieve thi,s but these types of infographics will serve as evergreen pieces that bring customers in and back.