Article

Powerful content marketing isn’t all about the product

Eric Melin | February 24, 2015

The FurlowLet’s face it: for brands to be successful in content marketing, they need to start thinking like media companies. And as entrepeneur and author Seth Godin said recently, “Real content marketing isn’t repurposed advertising, it is making something worth talking about.”

In an environment where consumers are bombarded every day on every screen imaginable with multimedia content, it’s more important than ever for brands to have content that is meaningful and builds trust.

Can content marketing make a difference? Can branded content help people and move them forward in a positive way? Absolutely.

I was at the KCIABC Business Communicators Summit last week and heard about one eye-opening example of meaningful content marketing. Joe Pulizzi from the Content Marketing Institute talked about John Deere’s The Furrow, an entity that’s been around since 1897.

The goal of The Furrow is simple: to help farmers and small agricultural business owners. It’s not merely in journal format anymore, of course, but it’s still a leading resource, with over 1.5 million subscribers in 40 countries. That is an enormous amount of earned trust that you simply can’t measure. And as Godin says, “In a world of zero marginal cost, being trusted is the single most urgent way to build a business.”

That’s why we were so excited to partner with Westar Energy on the Imagine Kansas short film series. Imagine Kansas is about all the incredible people who live in our state who are working to push Kansas forward, and Westar Energy powers the technology that enables communities all over Kansas to do amazing things.

The company also innovates directly, having engineered and constructed an innovative Edison award-winning full-scale wetland, which is the most environmentally friendly and least costly solution to treat wastewater. The wetland, paired with sulfate precipitation pretreatment, is a natural and less expensive way of removing pollutants while meeting high environmental standards.

Imagine Kansas isn’t about Westar Energy’s product—supplying electricity to 700,000 Kansans. It’s about how people across the state are working together to create a better future. As Godin says, “It’s human, it’s personal, it’s relevant, and it doesn’t trick people. If the recipient knew what the sender knows, would she still be happy? If the answer to that question is yes, then it’s likely it’s going to build trust.”

Westar Energy didn’t build the game-changing wetland treatment system because it was going to be profitable. The company built it because it was the right thing to do for Kansas—an innovative and environmentally friendly solution that costs significantly less than the EPA-recommended treatment strategies. That commitment extends forward, as the Imagine Kansas series will tell the stories of Kansans who have dedicated themselves to that same cause: ad astra per aspera: “To the stars through difficulties.”

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