This is a response to a familiar question that I get all the time from people. It goes something like this: “What do you think of my content marketing efforts at my company?”

With 99% of marketers saying they rely upon content marketing as a core strategy, being a content-marketing expert is a lot like being a doctor or nurse. People can’t help but ask you what you think. Sadly, what we think is that most of the content marketing programs we are asked to review suffer from the same illness. Symptoms of this illness include the following:

  • | Boring words + graphics
  • | Story telling or narrative that is completely lacking
  • | The basic elements of persuasion in communication are not used
  • | Calls to action are weak or absent

For an example of a program that is NONE of these things, lets look at Urban Ears, a company that makes headsets for phones and tablets based in Sweden. Urban Ears competes in a wickedly competitive category. Arguably headphones are something no one really needs to purchase except in the replacement market. All smartphones and tablets come with headphones that are OK but not great. The reason to purchase headphones is to replace the ones you got “in the box”, to upgrade their functionality, or for stylistic reasons. For most people, the headsets in the box are probably perfectly adequate. Still, this is a multi-million market, with in-ear headphones ranging in price from $2 to $500.

Getting the content right.

Urban Ears (not our client) successfully uses content marketing to differentiate itself in a number of ways.

Urban Ears | zinken

First the company is not boring.

You can tell from one glance at its website that the company has audacious goals. Working backward from the creative, I’d guess that the company has a stated goal of “making people love our products so much they buy them as fashion objects, in multiple colors, and buy multiple types of headphones for different usage occasions.”

The first step in not-being boring is to be audacious and this is audacious branding, especially the use of the multicolored heart-like logo that goes throughout the site and is incorporated in all the inbox materials as well.

The company isn’t afraid to tell it’s story.

In fact, each video on its site starts with the story of Urban Ears. This is a personable company with a personality. Contrast this with Bose, which has also made headphones and has a storied history of making audio products for audiophiles. In comparison’s Bose’s product videos – which are all about the product seem stale. Flat. One-dimensional where Urban Ear’s appear multi-dimensional.

The basic elements of persuasion are used effectively.

To make someone want to buy a product they don’t need—and most people don’t need to buy headsets to go with every outfit – you need to hit people’s emotional hot buttons or triggers. One way to do this is to use social proof, which is a weak form of persuasion, but one thought to be particularly effective for Millenials.

Beyond social proof, there are other tools that you can use to up the persuasion quotient of your content as detailed in the presentations you’ll find cited at the bottom of this post. While persuasion, emotion, and trust are generally thought to be ways of looking at User Experience Design | UXE, we are starting to look at our clients’ content this way as well, to uncover opportunities to make our clients content more persuasive.

Among the persuasion methods being used within Urban Ear’s content are scarcity, expectation, the power of people we like, and the Contrast Principal … to name just a handful of persuasion techniques built into either their website or their in-box materials.

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