When most marketers think of content marketing, they think of the online variety. To be fair, the internet is a perfect medium for content marketing. But it's often forgotten that this powerful marketing strategy began long before the idea of the World Wide Web was even conceived.
One of the original pioneers of content marketing was John Deere. In 1895, he published The Furrow magazine. The Furrow was not a sales-focused publication. Instead, it focused on informing and educating farmers on how to be better business owners. In fact, in the history of The Furrow magazine, which is still in publication some 120 years later, Deere & Co. have only mentioned their products and services in the magazine a handful of times. This is a perfect example of content marketing.
What Is Content Marketing?
As it is defined today, content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience and ultimately drive profitable customer action. It involves creating and sharing online and/or offline content that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to indirectly stimulate interest in its products or services.
"Traditional marketing with content means talking at someone about you. Content marketing means talking with someone about them."
While it may be easier to run a successful content marketing campaign online, it is entirely possible to execute offline as well, as John Deere and many other companies have shown us. It is also possible to create a hybrid content marketing strategy, using online and offline channels together.
The Only Way To Get Started
The first step for any content marketing campaigns, whether online or offline, is becoming intimately familiar with your customers or intended audience. You need to know who they are, how they behave and interact with your business, and what kind of information they might be seeking.
The best way for brick-and-mortar businesses to do this is to install and utilize a quality WiFi marketing and analytics platform. Other options are available, but they are very expensive and only provide a current snapshot of a small portion of your customer base.
WiFi marketing and analytics platforms, described in more detail below, can provide an ongoing, real-time view of a very large portion of your customer base. And WiFi analytics can be implemented at a small fraction of the cost of traditional market research solutions. You will also have the ability to collect very detailed customer information, behavior data and demographics.
Through thorough research on the data you collect, you can begin to create your most ideal customer segments and craft the perfect strategy for each of them by finding the emotional value in the data. Remember, content marketing is not about going for the sale. It is providing each of these customer segments with information to show them, inherently, that what you offer can satisfy their needs.
At this point, your content marketing can begin to take shape. As you begin publishing and sending out your content, it is important to remember that this is just the beginning. You will want to constantly test new types of content, as well as new content topics, on each of your audience segments.
For optimal testing, you’ll need to be able to measure the success of each campaign. This is another reason why marketing and analytics platforms are so powerful for brick-and-mortar businesses. Solutions like Bloom Intelligence are ideal for tracking individual campaigns down to the individual customer level. You’ll be able to monitor each campaign and adjust/optimize your campaigns on an ongoing basis.
Using the definition of content marketing above, let’s examine a few of the ways that brick-and-mortar businesses and restaurants can reap the remarkable rewards of content marketing.
Perhaps the most effective way to begin a content marketing campaign is to start a blog on your company website. Once set up, you should post to your blog on a consistent basis. You can blog every day, or once a week, or once a month, but whatever schedule you decide on, you should keep it consistent so that you’re not leaving your audience guessing when to come back for more.
Again, you won’t be selling your brand on your blog, you should simply be giving your customers the information they may be seeking. You could blog about specific types of diets, local events, holiday meals, different craft beer types or how to make a dollar go farther when dining out.
Another great way of getting content out to the masses is by guest posting. This involves reaching out to related websites and offering to write content they can publish on their website. Typically, they will allow you to publish an author bio with your image and a short biography. This is where you would quickly mention your place of business.
You are essentially getting eyeballs on your content by way of the website’s loyal visitors. When they read your bio, they can make the connection between great, educational content and your place of business.
There are many great restaurant-related podcasts available today, covering anything from operations and management, to technology, to recipes, to new trends in the industry. Much like guest posting, you can reach out to these podcasters and offer to be interviewed on a future show.
Think about what you can offer that is above and beyond the ordinary so you can showcase it in your outreach, and in the podcast as well.
You can easily query your favorite search engine to find them, but here is a short list of some of the top restaurant-related podcasts:
Content Marketing Through Email
Email has been, and continues to be, one of the best ways to reach consumers.
- In 2017, global e-mail users amounted to 3.7 billion. This figure is poised to grow to 4.1 billion users in 2021. (Statista)
- Email has a median ROI of 122% – over 4x higher than other marketing formats including social media, direct mail, and paid search. (DMA and Demand Metric)
As you can see, collecting your customer email addresses is a crucial part of a successful offline content marketing campaign. When paired with a WiFi marketing and analytics platform, collecting email addresses becomes extremely easy. Testing various content types and topics also becomes easy while it allows you to track each individual campaign.
Using a WiFi Marketing and Analytics Platform
These platforms utilize your customer WiFi access points. They gather data from any mobile device with its WiFi signal turned on. Since each device broadcasts its own unique ID, the system will recognize each customer individually based on their mobile device. Specific behavior data can then be tracked on each device, including dwell times, repeat visits, days of the week or hours of the day when at your location, and much more.
When a customer logs into your WiFi, the system will capture their email address or social media profile, so you will be collecting those valuable email addresses and customer profiles passively. At this point, the system can then associate all previous activity from that device to the customer's profile, as well as demographics such as gender, age, birthday and more.
With this kind of data, you can send content to your customer segments on a very granular level. And you'll know each and every time they come back to your location.
Get Started Today
One of the greatest things about content marketing is that you can get started immediately, and on a very limited budget. In some cases, it costs you nothing but the time it takes to write your content and find the perfect place for it to be published.
But the most important thing is that you get started as soon as possible. Competition is fierce in today's marketplace and it's up to you to stay a step ahead. Content marketing can provide you with an inexpensive and powerful way to create relationships with your customers, keep you top-of-mind, and keep them coming back again and again.