Content marketing: communicating on equal terms – even in the beverage industry

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Content marketing: Often used and widely heard, it practically seems to be almost a buzzword these days. But how many companies actually implement their content marketing in a structured and meaningful manner – by addressing customers through content rather than slogans? And to what extent can the beverage industry effectively benefit from it?

While there is no doubt that companies are now increasingly focused on content marketing, it seems apparent that SMEs in particular are often still hesitant to put it into practice. The focus on one’s own products, rather than on providing (potential) customers with high-quality content value, still seems to be firmly embedded in the minds of businesses.

Added value for customers: information and content

Today customers expect much more than classic promotional messages. They want their specific needs met and their concerns addressed. They want information tailored to their interests as well as custom consulting services that provide a clear added value that they’ll be able to benefit from. In addition, end customers in particular seek out tangible values they can identify with, therefore making credibility in content marketing indispensable. Once companies have analyzed customer needs, they need to communicate convincingly on equal terms with their customers rather than just sending out promotional messages. Only when companies have a clear understanding of what motivates their customers can they inspire them with just the right content. And because the great majority of people today make a point of informing themselves online before deciding to purchase something, companies can benefit a great deal from providing suitable sources (or content) with answers to questions potential customers might have.

Content marketing is more than advertising

One prerequisite for successful content marketing is the formulation of appropriate brand language. It allows the content and meaning to be conveyed to the customer in such a way that companies are then positioned as experts. It is almost impossible today to clearly distinguish one company from the competition simply by means of increasingly creative advertising. Today we are practically inundated with advertising non-stop, whether online, through social media, in print media, on digital screens in public spaces, on the radio and TV, and not least in stores. One side effect of digitalization is the ever-growing number of promotional channels. As simple as it may sound, there is a limit to how well companies can confront this permanent inundation by making things “faster, higher and larger.”

Relationship building: interacting with the customer

Effective content marketing requires high-quality content that has been customized for the target group. Thanks to programmatic advertising, it is now easier than ever to send automated company messages that have been specifically tailored for the audience on the basis of user information. And there is another major advantage in the social media segment: interactions with the customer can be purposefully initiated. Sure, there is a certain amount of effort involved in maintaining a compelling, advantageous dialogue. But building solid customer relationships is worth it. Another plus: the ability to produce user-generated content (UGC) in which users are motivated to discuss and share content. A prime example of a successful shift from classic advertising to content marketing in the beverage industry is Coca-Cola, which offers broad, user-centric editorial coverage online. And Red Bull even takes it a step further, having its own magazine, own TV channel and a special content homepage for such hip recreational topics as sports and music.

B2B marketing with target-group-relevant content

And the more emotionally charged end-customer segment isn’t the only place where the transfer of knowledge is in demand. B2B marketing, in particular, lends itself to companies who want to make a significant impact by publishing expert knowledge and hard facts – whether with inhouse seminars or online webinars, product videos, video interviews with experts or an independent blog aimed at specialists with content and solutions specifically tailored to subject areas that concern business customers. There are countless formats available for the beverage industry that are suited for communicating in-depth, specialized information and thereby draw attention to a given company. Krones AG, a globally active manufacturer of equipment for the beverage industry, has been doing this successfully for years with its YouTube channel and blog.

Good content marketing means putting the focus on the customers and their needs and supplying them with relevant information and added value. If companies can accomplish that, both sides will profit in the long-run.

Andra Gerhards

Andra Gerhards is a freelance journalist and copywriter. She focuses on topics such as marketing for town councils and local companies, (sustainable) consumption and retail.