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Real-Time Giving: WestJet’s Christmas Miracle Highlights the Importance of Honest, Empathetic Content

20 January 2014 BY

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For this month post I’ve been looking at the value of honest empathy tied into content marketing strategies. Whilst conducting research for this post I came across two startling facts about online marketing I wanted to share with you:

  1. A study carried out by ContentPlus found that 70% of consumers prefer to know a company via their content marketing efforts as opposed to ads. What really caught my curiosity though is the fact that brands spend more on advertising than on content creation.
  2. When we look at B2B marketing though 93% of businesses are using some kind of content marketing, but just 42% of them believe that their content is effective according to the ‘B2B Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America’ study conducted by MarketingProfs & the Content Marketing Institute.

So what’s so crucial about these findings? Content is an increasingly important factor in both consumer and business decision making. Currently brands are either uneasy with their efforts or they are missing the boat entirely.

So why does content marketing matter? Consider how you approach any purchase you make: be that looking to buy a holiday or health insurance, you’re likely to Google your options. It goes with the territory to further read online reviews and recommendations. Additionally, since we are social creatures we are most likely to then also poll our friends on G+, Twitter and Facebook in, wherever you happen to hang out online, really.

According to Google ‘The Zero Moment of Truth’ recognizes that people come to a business via many, different online sources such as search, friends, reviews, etc. Simply put the relationships we have with others are increasingly leading us to brands – it’s not just simply marketers that lead brands to us any longer.

Greed is out - Empathy is in

This is a clear indication that the old marketing model which referred to that brands attracted consumers via advertising and various outreach efforts is outdated. In today’s era of search and social businesses should focus far more on enabling interactions instead of chasing transactions. Businesses should therefore focus on helping the people they want to reach, make decisions about the purchases they want to make via the online content they create. As a result the key is to create helpful content that is seeded with genuine empathy. So what are the best 2 ways to do just that?

Create Customer-Centric Content & Be A Problem Solver

During my research efforts for this piece I cam across Marcus Sheridan who saved his pool company River Pools & Spa from disaster by in-part overhauling his marketing strategy. Instead of focusing on PPC, TV, radio and print (as done previously) Marcus shifted his strategy to focus on generating sales through informational blog posts and videos. The reason for his success though was not to simply just create content but it hinged on the specific nature of the content. Instead of avoiding to answer tough questions such as price and disadvantages of fibreglass pools for instance – Marcus though was happy and willing to answer such questions.

This undermines that businesses generally are creating corporate-centric content instead of customer-centric content. So what’s the difference between the two? Customer-centric content is purely focused on the consumer whilst corporate-centric content refers to what a business does for consumers – a rather critical shift therefore.

To ensure you are creating genuine customer-centric content you should be in the position to honestly answer questions such as:  will my customer thank me for this content? In effect also, will my customers thank me for marketing to them? If the answers are yes then you are on to a winning path.

What we have to keep in mind is that by addressing issues and questions you are demonstrating your understanding of your customers pain points. Looking back at Marcus he succeeded because he earned the trust of ‘would be’ pool buyers. The lesson we can learn from Marcus is to produce content with clear utility for people, and content that’s seeded with honest empathy for the problems that your products and services can solve.

Are You Speaking Your Customers Language?

When it comes to articulating empathy in your content voice and tone are the 2 most crucial components. The former refers to the personality you convey in your copy, hence every brand’s voice is unique. Put great effort into communicating through simple terms and direct language your customers can directly relate to – in other words, isn’t’t that honest empathy?

Needless to say the tone of your messaging also plays an important role. It might be the case that the voice of your site is loud, upbeat and fun, however you might want to shift the tone in some instances such as customer service pages or any place customers might visit when facing an issue or problem. In these instances it’s definitely worth dropping an upbeat tone in favour of helpful empathy!

WestJet’s Christmas Miracle 2013: Real-Time Giving

In early August  2013 WestJet brainstormed what ‘giving’ at its best looked like. The idea was to create something fresh, exciting and new. With the help of 175 WestJet volunteers, 3 airports the airline made a Christmas miracle happen for more than 250 passengers on 2 Calgary-bound flights.

What actually happened? You’ll have to watch the video below to find out. Make sure you have some tissues nearby though…

The result of this innovative Christmas miracle? The video went viral across the globe, whilst people were wondering where the success came from. I believe the answer is simple: WestJet wanted to do something good for their passengers and show them that they care! At the end of the day this effort was all about creating a remarkable experience, something that would live with their passengers far beyond their WestJet flight.

Obviously, the team at WestJet couldn’t script the emotional reaction of their passengers to the simple gesture of a Christmas gift given for the sake of making someone’s day. The reactions of families receiving their Christmas wishes, as well as the reactions of the more than 3 million people who have since viewed the video, serve to reaffirm the true message surrounding Christmas, it’s better to give than to receive. Exactly the same principle should really be applied to your content marketing efforts!

AUTHORED BY:
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Clarissa is a bilingual Strategic Marketing MA graduate with rounded experience in a number of key marketing disciplines including social media, project management, research and business development. Clarissa is Marketing Graduate at Linkdex.
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