Robert Rose once said, “Marketing is telling the world you are a rock star. Content marketing is showing the world you are one.” Too often, when we think of marketing our communities and businesses, we tend to think how to reach as many sets of eyes as possible. Certainly, reaching eyes is critical to the overall marketing and branding mix, but if that is the extent and main focus of your marketing efforts, you are missing the boat entirely and will ultimately fail.
Humans have several senses that tend to be overlooked when preparing marketing or branding strategies. Yes, the eyes are an important one. But let’s not ignore the senses of touch, smell, taste and hearing. Let’s face it, many of those other senses are every bit, if not more powerful than the eyes. Think of the music you grew up with, think of the music that accompanies the Olympics, both conjure up powerful visuals in your mind.
When you walk into a restaurant, is it the words on the menu that capture your mind or is it the smell of fresh coffee or bread, seafood, steak that ultimately wins the day. When you walk into a potential new home, is it the address and look of the property? Or, is it the combination of that along with the feelings of home, the smells of freshly baked cookies on the counter or the image of what it would be like living there that ultimately sells the property?
When enjoying music, is it the words of the song that first captures your attention? Or is it the beat and rhythm that suck you in? Is it the words on the window of a new car that capture you, or is it the smell of the newness or the feel of the vehicle when you take a test-drive?
But greater than all of the above examples and the words or images the eyes behold, are the unrecognized sense we often over-look, the sense of imagination. The best way to sell your ideas, your community, and your business is through imagination marketing. What is imagination marketing? Very simply put, it is marketing in such a way the audience is imagining themselves in your product, your business or your community.
Some of the greatest marketing campaigns of all time evolve around this concept of imagination or content marketing. Whether you could be just like the Marlboro Man years ago, jump like Michael Jordan by buying his branded shoes, being an Indy driver by buying a certain car, losing weight with this or that product, experiencing that burger that makes your mouth water by looking at the commercial, hearing the Coke sizzle on the screen causing you to get up and buy a $6.00 cup of Coke, it all evolved around getting you to believe you would gain a particular strength or passion by simply buying the product.
What does this mean to a business or community today? Communities need to sell vision and imagination. They need not only sell their events and attractions, they need to convince readers, viewers and listeners that they have to do more than just see it, they must experience it and imagine it. If you believe your town is musical, visitors must hear, see and experience music at every turn. If your town promotes itself as a BBQ capital, then promote the imagination of BBQ on everyone’s taste buds 24/7. If you believe your town is a renaissance town, then embrace it and become renaissance in nature. Whatever the hook, be a big hook capable of catching large fish, not a hook seeking minnows.
Marketing and branding are vastly different. While different, both are effectively an art based largely on localized intuition, coupled with good information and data. When it comes to marketing and branding your community or business, everyone will offer their two-cents, but understand the true value of those two-cents. Don’t just tell the world what you are; show the world what you are. That is the essence of imagination and content marketing.
John A. Newby, author of the "Building Main Street, Not Wall Street " column is dedicated to assisting local communities and local media companies combine synergies allowing them to not just survive, but thrive in a world where truly-local is lost to Amazon, Wall Street chains and others. His email at: john@360MediaAlliance.net.