Every good marketer knows that the most successful brands don’t sell products; they sell identities and values. For health and wellness products, those revolve closely around lifestyle. This is why Pfizer doesn’t market Advil as the best way way to inhibit COX enzymes and block the production of prostaglandins. It knows that very few people know — or care — how ibuprofen works. Pfizer isn’t even really selling pain relief; it’s selling the lifestyle you can enjoy when you are free from pain.
Another example is Wahoo Fitness, a manufacturer of wearable tech like heart rate monitors and pedometers, which launched a content marketing campaign designed to help athletes train smarter. It created a series of educational articles to help customers motivate themselves to run more or get the most out of spin class; then it invited those customers to engage by sharing videos with the brand and each other across social media platforms.
So how do you know what to say, who to say it to and where to say it?
Answering those questions can be done using four steps.
1. Identify your target customer. Who is the ideal customer for your brand? Demographics are a good start, but what you really need to know is what makes this person tick. Attitudes, preferences and values are key differentiators in uncovering which messages stick and which become noise. Unless your brand is niche, there is probably not a single answer. Identify how many different types of target customers you have and develop a persona for each one — then, look for similarities and differences in those personas. That will help determine whether a single campaign can reach them all or if multiple campaigns should be run concurrently.
2. Draw a lifestyle picture for each persona. A lifestyle picture is created when you draw from what you know about each persona to uncover specific details about their lives. What social media content they are sharing, what books they are reading, how they spend their weekends, and what activities they engage in are all part of each persona’s lifecycle picture. Build as comprehensive a picture as you can on what daily life truly looks like for these consumers, collecting real samples from their online user generated content and data points from sources like entertainment companies and travel service providers. U.S. Census data can also be mined to extract meaningful intelligence.
3. Map your brand identity to lifestyle pictures. When you know the true value that your brand brings consumers, you can find where it intersects with lifestyle pictures. Once those points are uncovered, target them with highly shareable messages that highlight how the brand aligns. Wahoo Fitness did this by realizing that it can provide actionable tips to help consumers enhance the sports and activities they love participating in. Knowing runners and cyclists would be likely to share these tips, it created short and easily shareable tips to make the most out of their active lifestyles (e.g., “8 Tips To Boost Your Motivation To Run”).
4. Provide a platform to engage customers. Consumers expect two-way conversations with the brands they support, and sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube provide perfect venues for that. One of the reasons the ALS ice bucket challenge was so successful is because it gave people the chance to be creative and connect with their friends, and that can be tapped for any marketing campaign. An added benefit is the more customers share with you, the more you learn about them and the better you become at speaking to them.
Content marketing is highly effective at building brand equity that leads to sales, and a well-crafted emphasis on lifestyle accelerates the process. As traditional advertising and online marketing techniques fall on the deaf ears of savvy digital natives, the true path to brand identity and ultimately loyalty is through education and engagement on multiple channels. That’s selling lifestyle, and the avenue is content marketing.
Editor's note: This article originally appeared on June 21, 2016, in Marketing:Health.