Written by Matt Caprioli, Content Marketing Associate at eZ

Can content solve the same problems as your product?

That's one of the many questions Jay Acunzo asked during his re\VISION talk in New York, a conference eZ Systems hosts where 

industry experts speak about anything related to digital transformation. This latest conference we focused on content marketing. Sujan Patel gave a very useful talk on 7 ways to boost your ROI through social media, Product Manager at eZ Systems Roland Benedetti talked about the long-term planning that goes into content marketing, and Tom Critchlow told us how to survive a decentralized Web

Our last speaker was Jay, The VP of NextView Ventures (and perpetually entertaining blogger), whose main point was for marketers to give their customers content that is as useful--and above all, innovative--as the products their company offers.

It’s a simple idea, but considering how infrequently it actually happens in content marketing, its implementation is always radical.  

During his talk, Jay quoted Twitter co-founder Ev Williams's definition of innovation. To be innovative is to “Take a human desire….and use technology to take out steps.

This view informed his own definition of content marketing:

 “Content marketing: solve the same problem or convey the same emotion as your product, using media you create and distribute”

Jay Acunzo

Uber is a perfect example of technology removing the steps necessary to complete an action. To catch a ride in the past, one had to go through the following steps:

                         1. Walk to it

                         2. Hail it

                         3. Ride it

                         4. Pay it

The slide below shows life after Uber:

 

By thinking how technology could simplify the process of a human desire, Uber made it so people could focus on what they really wanted: a ride. 


So if innovation is about removing the steps it takes for a customer to reach a goal, how can that simplifying strategy be applied to content marketing?

Under Jay’s thinking, ‘content’ and ‘product’ are one and the same. The goal of content marketing is to create content that solves the same problems that a company’s products aim to solve.

Content and product thus serve the same end: to reduce the steps your customer has to pass to reach what they want. Innovative content marketers use content to reduce the steps a customer has to take to get what they want. 

 Jay gave three great examples of content marketing efforts that simplified the desire-getting process. 

  • Wistia, the video hosting services for business, took a human desire (looking good to others, in this case through video) and simplified that process through educational videos and a highly amusing blog. They exemplify the ever decaying line between product and content. As founder Chris Savage said of their vision: “Instead of trying to market and sell a product, we’re trying to market and sell a mission: Help people do more with video.”
  • IMPACT Branding & Design wanted to help people blog effectively. They also saw that coming up with exciting ideas was a sort of challenge. To simplify the blogging process, they build a template appropriately title, Blog About.
  • Jay’s own company, NextView Ventures, created templates like “Startup Pitch Deck Templates” and “Board Deck Templates for Seed-Stage Startups” to help them reach their goals.

These are superb examples of content marketing: where the content's raison d'etre is clearly aligned with the product's. This alignment is so vital because as people experience the content, they will also experience the product.

It’s this type of content that leads to what Jay called the “Oh by the way moment.” This occurs after the customer has experienced enough of the content/product and feels a fair amount of trust toward the company. The content has, to some degree, been successful in meeting their specific goals.

Once this relationship has been established, the company can reasonably say "oh by the way" whatever issue you're experiencing can be solved even more effectively by buying our product.  

The challenge is that the "oh by the way" moment can't be reached unless your content builds trust and clearly connects with the product you're selling.

Content that succeeds in channelling its product's usefulness is truly innovative.  

At eZ, our content marketing includes things like this blog post as well as re\VISION events. Our aim is to solve the same problems our products aim to solve, which is to simplify how people can manage content to generate business value. Along with eZ products, we hope to bring insight on how disciplines beyond technology for its own sake, such as “content marketing” and "content strategy," can really mean business.

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