Content Marketing and Storytelling
Years ago, products and companies could market their features, pointing to them and saying “our product speaks for itself.” Today, given the density of signal in the world and the dizzying array of media competing for your attention, most products need a story, or more accurately they need to offer themselves as the vehicle for your customer’s story. Content marketing focuses more on your customer imagining themselves utilizing your product, so an effective strategy is one in which we tell stories where your customer plays the main role. Follow along for an example strategy in which I market a triathlon short for Wattie Ink., a triathlon and cycling apparel company.
Building a Better Tri Short
At first glance, the lower garments of a triathlete’s outfit seem basic, but building a piece of apparel that dries quickly, carries nutrition comfortably, doesn’t chafe men or women in their down-belows, sheds heat, flatters most athletes, and doesn’t break the bank proves to be a bit of a moonshot. At Wattie Ink., purveyor of excellent triathlon and cycling apparel, we set out to do all of those things and deliver the product to customers for under $100. The first step? Figuring out what triathletes wanted from their athletic apparel and the questions they had. When you’ve been in an industry for a while, it can be easy to lose sight of what newcomers want, and we were surprised to discover through my research that most new triathletes didn’t know a) that one eschews underwear underneath triathlon shorts and b) that this was the garment they would wear all day.
Educate and Empathize
If you’re reading this you probably already live and work in the marketing realm, so you know that educating your customer and empathizing with them makes for the shortest route between attention and action. For our tri short project, I identified five answers to the questions I’d researched, educating our customers about how triathlon shorts work and the different challenges to providing them what they needed. Along the way I used approachable and inviting language to disarm possible customers and lower the bar to entering what can be an intimidating sport.
Make the Sale
Making the final sale involves summing up your case, having established that using a better triathlon short can lead to the outcomes your customers desire. In this case we discovered our target audience was primarily female, so we chose an image that communicated the values of the company, established in a brand bible, and then connected those values to the qualities of the product. In this case: quick-drying fabrics that perform well on course; comfort without chafing; a leg gripper that holds the short in place; flattering hideaway pockets; a wide waist band that doesn’t constrict; and useful during training along with racing.
The result? Our Wattie Ink. triathlon shorts, priced at $99, quickly became one of the company’s best and most durable sellers, quietly chugging along as a steady money-maker for the business.