Content marketing is a big deal, but the term will disappear as we realise all marketing is defined by its content.

Econsultancy’s Chris Lake made a similar point when recently introducing a list of great content from brands. He argued that the difference between advertising and content is moot.

Shouldn’t all advertising be thought of as at least one of: funny/useful/inspiring/informative etc? Obviously the answer is yes, but the reality is a little different.

Content marketing is still a hugely popular term. One can point to tens of thousands of Google searches every month, the jagged rise of the term shown on Google Trends, and the astounding success of Lake’s periodic table of content marketing, which has been shared more than 5,000 times in less than a week.

The broader trend though is a consumer enabled by the internet to become ever more informed, an instantaneous autodidact on a previously unimaginable scale. Basically, savvier than ever.

So how do brands make sure that savvy customers’ power is appropriated? The answer is through communities, through providing content that effectively takes ownership of a particular question or problem. This can be as simple as ‘should I buy a Nissan Leaf?’ (read on for more) or ‘how do I care for my baby?’.

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.

Nissan Leaf campaign

This Nissan Leaf landing page is great.

nissan leaf landing page 

It doesn’t permit the Nissan brand to shout about how great its own products are, but allows customers to interact with each other, and takes ownership of conversations previously taking place over at publishers and on online review platforms.

With 87% of new-car buyers using the web for research, number of visits to a dealership before making a purchase has come down from eight to somewhere between 1.2 and 1.8.

This means the opportunity for brands to affect the customer decision is pretty much entirely online.

The Nissan campaign is called “Real Owners. Real Questions.” Current LEAF owners share their stories about what it’s really like to go electric. 

nissan leaf real owners real questions

Tiles and search functionality allow the consumer to explore the many answers that are largely practical and constructive, without ever making the Leaf look bad.

Video is used effectively to showcase current owners, and this will likely increase time on site, as well as putting a real, trustable person’s face in the window.

HSBC Expat Explorer

HSBC had tremendous success with its expat campaign, which featured educational community-based content aimed at a group of potentially high-value customers. 

With most people only considering banking late in their research process, HSBC wanted to engage earlier.

The bank created useful ‘informal’ content for this niche audience in the form of hints and tips, alongside some country comparison tools. The Twitter account @expatexplorer proved very popular, and was used to direct consumers to the website.

You can find out more about this campaign in Econsultancy’s marketing case studies library.

hsbc expat content
hsbc expat content

If you’ve got more examples of brands creating an educational or community resource around a product, please let me know in the comments.