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4 Brands That Make Relationships Central to Content

Being in a relationship signifies a long-term, loyal commitment. The same rules apply in business. Relationship marketing is a way to cultivate ties between a brand and a company.

Relationship marketing is usually much easier in channels that have a one-on-one element. But what about in your broader content initiatives? How can you continue to foster brand loyalty and fan excitement from a blog or video series?

Well, who’s to say that relationship marketing and content marketing can’t go hand in hand? Here are four brands that nailed the combination.

1. Lay’s

For years, Lay’s has been running a crowd-sourced competition that brings new potato chip flavors to the nation. The Do Us A Flavor campaigns often turn into big social media hits, with related hashtags and promotional visuals. Recently, the food brand added in a relationship-marketing element that incorporated fan tweets and content submissions into short video clips.

Featuring two puppets known as the Taste Spuds, these videos respond directly to fans’ flavor submissions. They call the creator out by name and rattle of pun after pun related to their ideas. This is a great example of relationship marketing because it places the focus squarely on an individual. During a contest that receives many thousands of submissions, the effort to highlight good flavor ideas not only makes those individuals feel special, but the opportunity to be the subject of a clever video could encourage more participation in the competition. That’s a win for everybody.

Crowdsourcing is a wonderful way to work relationships into your content marketing plans. Lay’s goes above and beyond with this concept by not just moving quickly to put fans’ ideas into its video material, but also by making those ideas the star of its product line.

2. Dollar Shave Club

This mail-order company is already well known for its spunky approach to video, running popular commercials both on- and offline. But Dollar Shave Club’s content marketing goes beyond clips of the founder promoting his razors. It also has an excellent blog with a strong relationship component. Once a week, the blog features a different Dollar Shave Club member who has an interesting story to share or a business or charity to promote.

Crucially, these posts have almost no tie-in with the company. The interview questions highlight the subject’s character and profession, but don’t discuss any shaving preferences or products. The accompanying slideshow usually has one or two photos of him shaving, but the rest is entirely about that individual and his passion.

This feature on the company blog helps promote the community feeling that you’d expect from a company with “club” in its name. The different subjects are referred to as members, not customers. It not only gives fans the chance to be a star for a week, but it gets them more directly involved with the company. Finally, presenting its fans and their personal endeavors also gives the company the sense of being a broader lifestyle brand rather than just a source of razors.

3. Zappos

Relationship marketing is about building bonds between a brand and its customers, but that isn’t the only relationship that can be the star of your content. We can see that with Zappos, an online retailer that has the reputation of being a social media juggernaut and customer service icon. It’s also renowned for its unique approach to internal culture. The big relationships that Zappos has chosen to highlight with its YouTube videos are the ties among its employees.

There are more than 100 videos that showcase #ZapposCulture, with many clips that highlight different team members. Some focus on individuals and the work they do, while others show groups embarking on wild pranks and adventures around the office. Other videos on Zappos’ YouTube channel further this idea of building relationships. One of the latest was a surprise appreciation for a UPS mail carrier who makes deliveries for the company.

Even though these relationships aren’t focused on the customers, they still convey the Zappos ethos. Sharing that clear vision of values can do just as much to connect the Zappos brand with individuals. That connection is a foundation for building a long-term relationship between the brand and its customers.

4. Kohl’s

For most people, their smartphones are very personal possessions. This means that a mobile campaign can be a great way to spark a one-on-one connection with customers. Retailer Kohl’s used a combination of mobile apps and big data to reach out directly to shoppers in their stores, giving a real world, brick-and-mortar grounding for its efforts in data-driven relationship marketing.

When a customer logs into the Kohl’s mobile app, the software taps into a database of past purchases and the individual’s position in the store to offer specials or deals tailored specifically to that person and where they are. Sending this information by phone and being location-based gives the recipient a very focused experience.

This venture shows the importance of relationship marketing being a two-way street. When customers opt in to a marketing program, the brand is responsible for ensuring that those shoppers get value out of participating. It also proves that data, which might seem impersonal, can be used to make an individual connection with a shopper. A surprising amount of personalization can come through in a series of zeroes and ones.

For the People

Whatever the relationships are that you want to showcase in your content, putting a focus on personal ties lets the world see the human side of your brand. It’s about people, not products.

Think about the elements that go into any relationship, whether they’re between two people or between a person and a brand. Relationships require give and take, and mutual rewards for being involved. Make sure that your company brings that attitude into its interactions with fans through your content marketing.

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