What if you were to create content that helps your customers spend LESS time discovering your products? Content that leads them directly to their purchase destination, potentially cutting off opportunities to view other products that may lead to add-on sales?
That is an approach to content marketing that turns conventional wisdom on its head. It puts the customer need for helpful, useful information before brand promotion. And it wins their loyalty over the long haul.
That is what Jeff Handler did.
As CMO of Meijer, a retailer with more than 200 stores in the Midwest, Handler was looking for ways to enhance the shopping experience of customers. That’s when he heard about mobile mapping technology company Point Inside.
Point Inside specializes in indoor location applications that connect customers to stores and brands through their smartphone. Handler wondered if this would work in a retail environment.
A new twist on content marketing
A typical Meijer store has more than 100,000 products ranging from groceries to hard goods and most everything in between. Think Walmart.
Conventional wisdom says retailers like Meijer should put products people want in the back so customers have to walk through the entire store. Presumably they will buy more products.
But Point Inside has found that doesn’t really work.
Todd Sherman, Point Inside CMO, says, “People are kind of in a hurry, and in fact, they get annoyed that they have to walk all the way to the back of the store to get the milk.”
What does work, according to Sherman, is enabling customer efficiency. People go to the store with a mental number, he says.
“They think, ‘I’ve got 20 items and 30 minutes to shop for them.’ If you help them pick up those items in 20 minutes, they’ll use that extra 10 minutes to look at other items in the store. Some of them will be added to their shopping cart,” says Sherman.
With this in mind, Meijer collaborated with Point Inside to create Find-It, an industry-first mobile app delivering useful information to Meijer customers in real time. Here is what they can do with the app:
- Locate specific products in the store within a few feet
- Create and track personal shopping lists
- Route a shopping trip for optimum efficiency
- View sale items and use virtual coupons
- Locate store services such as restrooms
Check out this two-minute video to see Find-It in action.
‘Useful’ is the future of content marketing
The Find-It mobile app takes content marketing to a new level. More than just telling a brand story, it delivers useful information in real time. It enables customers to experience the brand story by giving them a gift – time.
Jay Baer calls this Youtility. Youtility turns conventional marketing upside down. Baer explains it this way: “Instead of marketing that’s needed by companies, Youtility is marketing that’s wanted by customers.”
Making the shift away from company-focused needs to customer-focused needs can be risky business. Jeff Handler took a risk in not doing what was always done before. For Handler and Meijer, the risk was rewarded with greater customer trust, loyalty, brand affinity and sales.
For example, the Find-It shopping list feature has a direct impact on sales and profits. By helping shoppers locate products in the store, the app saves Meijer an estimated five percent in potential lost sales from every customer purchase.
The loyalty effect is even more dramatic.
Research by Point Inside found that shoppers who use store mapping applications like Find-It have strong loyalty to the brand. “Sixty-five percent of customers said they would shop at that store, and not their competitor, because the application gave them the ability to find products so easily,” says Sherman.
The takeaway for your content strategy is this:
Meijer could have used mobile technology to push more-targeted ads or SMS texts to customers. That would have served the needs of their business. But they turned that upside down and used the technology to create a valuable, helpful experience for customers.
That is your path to competitive advantage with content marketing. Ready to take the risk?