Content persuades prospects that we are a valuable resource, it often drives people to our site, and it can be a key differentiator and branding component for savvy businesses. All of this, coupled with the growing disdain for traditional marketing, explains why brands embracing content are rising to the top. But the climb to success is more like an ice laden mountain than a grassy knoll.
Content is a tricky strategy, because we can't always predict what will be well received. Maybe you've outlined your personas, but you're not sure how to tell a story and create information they'll embrace. Maybe you've created a few blog posts, eBooks, or videos, and aren't seeing the response you'd hoped for.
Today, I'd like to take a look at a brand that has essentially mastered the art of content marketing, complimented by social engagement. It's a brand which I rely on to get through many afternoons, and for many it conjures up college memories soaked in Jaegermeister. Mentions of the brand often lead to discussions of the infamous Felix Baumgartner Skyfall which left us all awestruck, gripping our seats, and celebrating the amazingness that is mankind.
Of course, we're talking about Red Bull.
Red Bull has come a long way since it's inception in the 1980s in Austria. But even in its initial marketing initiative messaging signaled a product characterized by a flair for the unique:
As the first product of it's kind, Red Bull was initially tasked with the unique challenge of simultaneously creating a need for a product and promoting a brand.
As the company has evolved through the last couple decades to satisfy the changing desires and expectations of their customers and challenge competition, their dedication to the "Red Bull Gives You Wings" slogan has remained intact.
In fact, much of the brand's messaging has shifted away from the product in favorability of the concepts they've associated it with the "Wings" idea.
This creates the backbone of their content strategy, which is truly second to none.
Red Bull has invested a lot of energy (and millions of dollars) into positioning itself in congruity with extreme lifestyles and jaw dropping athleticism. They've accomplished this in a method distinct from most brands, which are happy with slapping their logo on an athlete's jersey or race driver's car, and expecting consequential notoriety.
In addition to filming documentaries, hosting extreme events, and generally pushing the boundaries of human ability, Red Bull promotes their messaging and content through a robust social media strategy anchored around embracing the language and practices of their core audience.
You'll notice that much of the branding in this content is minimal, especially on their website. Much of their newer messaging anchors on the "World of Red Bull" concept.
These amazing feats and high quality production pieces are the core of Red Bull's strategy and spend. Truthfully, content has grown out of being just a marketing strategy and has created distinct sectors within their business. Today, Red Bull is an energy drink, a media house, a record label, a TV channel, an athletic sponsor, and an event host.
And it's not just the jaw-dropping that they showcase – the brand takes care to capture, comment on, and share the moments their audience embraces. This is where we see the company's true understanding of and value placed on delighting their personas.
Remember the beginning of this post, where we fondly remembered those youthful nights fueled by Red Bull mixed with liquor? Red Bull knows that kind of behavior constitutes a huge part of their revenue. That's why the brand embraces the party hard, extreme fun, live in the moment lifestyle. We see this repeatedly on their social accounts, which alternate between promoting their one-of-a-kind content and driving conversations centered around overall fun.
Nowhere is the practice of embracing personality better demonstrated than in Red Bull's Drunkish Dials app on Facebook, which allows fans to rate the drunken dials the brand receives to their 1-800 line:
Apologies for the vulgarity. It's all in the name of education!
Although Red Bull's content is vast and varies in subject matter, the brand manages to seamlessly tie all efforts back in to the "Red Bull Gives You Wings" core messaging. Ironically, speaking from my own personal perspective, it seems the gives you wings mentality actually translates universally well for people who are performing extreme athletic endeavors AND people just getting drunk and acting like buffoons.
In summation, there are a few key takeaways any brand can extract from the Red Bull method. These hold true whether your business is mundane or envelope pushing, and can still be applied by those of us who don't have a multi-million dollar budget:
- Understanding your audience will always come first in content marketing. Everything else (medium, messaging, promotion) is based around your personas' preferences and goals.
- Your brand's personality may evolve, sometimes without you even intending for it to do so. Be versatile and willing to accept the associations your community builds.
- Content is not an add on, it's a critical component to marketing success. Especially as the digital sphere grows.
- High quality, big budget content is great – but conversational, on the fly engagement is every bit as valuable. Try to find a balance of carefully strategized content and personable, low maintenance initiatives.