Content that makes a customer happy. The Park Tool website homepage has two choices: “Tools” and “Fix It.” Translation: (1) You know the tool you want and just need a catalog, or (2) You know the problem and want to know how to fix it.

By Rex Hammock

When asked for good examples of marketers that use content and media for building long-term, loyal customer relationships, my top two answers used to be Williams-Sonoma and Orvis. Williams-Sonoma decided a long time ago it wasn’t in the pots and pans business—instead, it helped its clients be better cooks and entertainers by providing engaging content centered on great products. And Orvis is as famous for its fly-fishing schools and educational content as it is for its fly-fishing equipment. Both companies can teach us a lot about using customer media to build relationships.

But now, I have a new best example. For those who know my passion for bicycling (I bike-commute to work most days), it won’t come as a surprise that it’s bicycle-related: A company called Park Tool, the king of fix-it gizmos for bikes.

You may have never heard of this 55-year-old company, but anyone who loves a bicycle has. But Park Tool doesn’t just sell tools—they also teach customers how to fix their bikes with step-by-step processes. When a cyclist has a flat tire and watches a Park Tool education video to help him fix it, that individual’s relationship with his bike—and with Park Tool—changes forever. The person feels more empowered. Less intimidated.

After an hour or two of watching the company’s free tutorials, a cyclist can conquer her fear of having a chain break or getting a flat tire and being stranded on the road or trail.

How savvy is ParkTool’s use of customer media? Take a look at the Park Tool YouTube channel composed of how-to videos. Note how little hype there is. The content is all about educating and enlightening customers.

And what’s more amazing? ParkTool’s print ads have evolved from messaging about the quality of its tools to promoting its free online video tutorials, which have become the go-to source for those willing to take on do-it-yourself bicycle maintenance tasks.

To learn what masterful customer content is, take a look at the Park Tool full-page ad currently running in bicycle magazines.

“Learn how your bike works, how to fix a flat or do a complete overhaul. Park Tool’s website and YouTube Channel offer a comprehensive lineup of maintenance and repair help support.”

Is Park Tool’s education first-and-foremost strategy working?

Its YouTube channel has 151,756 subscribers and hundreds of comments that are more like love notes. Spend a few moments watching a video, and you’ll want to go out to your garage and break down your bike. Search Google or YouTube for any bike-related “how-to” and you’ll discover the SEO power of helpful content.

Lesson for marketing with content: Long-term loyalty comes from helping customers use your products, not just own your products. Customers don’t buy products; they buy solutions that often require hand-holding and support. And by hand-holding and support, we mean great customer content and media.



About Hammock Healthcare Idea Email |
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By Rex Hammock

Your new mousetrap is obviously better than your competitor’s. And you’ve done all the things a great marketer should do to explain to potential customers why they should change to your revolutionary new mousetrap.

By Rex Hammock

In the United Kingdom and Northern Europe, Facebook is launching a customer marketing program called Grow. Targeting business leaders, the ongoing program will include a quarterly print magazine and access to a special invitation-only event.

Wait! Did I just say “print magazine”? Yes, but Grow isn’t a magazine, according to Facebook; it’s a marketing program. But because Facebook didn’t include a print magazine in its initial announcement, reporters have made that the focus of their coverage.

I think Facebook is correct in describing Grow as the brand of a marketing program, and not just a magazine. Five years ago, in a longform post on the Hammock Idea Blog, I explored the roles magazines play as (1) a business model limited to ads and subscription revenue and (2) a medium that deepens relationships with customers or members and supports a business model such as an association or university.

What Facebook is doing is savvy. It demonstrates how to use the power of a direct-to-customer magazine within the context of a broader marketing strategy. It’s more than a magazine, but it probably wouldn’t work without the magazine component.

Bottomline | Facebook will be using multiple media channels to reach an audience critical to its long-term success. Selling ads in a niche magazine is not Facebook’s reason for developing Grow. Facebook’s goal is to position the company as the dominant thought leader among an audience of corporate executives or government leaders. It’s not a program playing a magazine business model. It’s a magazine supporting and protecting the core business model of Facebook.

Image: Getty Images



About Hammock Healthcare Idea Email |
This post is part of Hammock’s award-winning Idea Email series. Idea Emails are sent every other week and share one insightful marketing idea. Idea Email comes in two flavors: Original and Healthcare. To subscribe to the original Idea Email (general marketing ideas), click here . To subscribe to the Healthcare Idea Email (healthcare marketing ideas), click here.

By Rex Hammock

The history of a business or an association can too often get lost in the shuffle of time. The stories that define a company’s mission and values—its foundation—can be forgotten, leaving behind only photographs or myths about its founders and leaders.

By Rex Hammock

One of the mantras at Hammock is a three-word phrase to describe marketing that builds long-lasting customer relationships: “Help not hype.”

By Rex Hammock

Fire-heated branding of farm animals originated in Egypt around 4,000 years ago as a technique to identify the owner of livestock. The practice of burning a symbol into the hide of cattle stayed fairly consistent for four millennia.

However, in recent years, other forms of livestock identification have been developed that are more humane and more effective, including freeze branding, inner lip or ear tattoos, earmarking, ear tagging, radio-frequency identification, and tagging with a microchip implant.

By Rex Hammock

(Note: I may be breaking an Idea Email rule. Over the past five years, I’ve devoted a lot of space encouraging marketers to avoid hype and focus on help. Some of my colleagues think that by focusing on Hammock Inc., I’ve come close to the no-hype rule. I can understand their point. So we flipped a coin. I won.)

If you read how most marketing firms describe themselves these days, you might think “content” is a departmental bullet point on a long list of services that have replaced the words “advertising” and “public relations.”

By Rex Hammock

In any marketplace, there are two phases in the relationship between a buyer and a seller: The “Why” phase and the “How” phase. During these two phases, the role of marketing with content is very different.

By Rex Hammock

While working on a video documentary about multigenerational family businesses, the director and I recently spent time visiting several fascinating people who returned home to run their family businesses after successful careers in other fields.

By Rex Hammock

The current blow to some digital marketing core beliefs caused by the Facebook Cambridge Analytica data breach is providing a much-needed moment of reflection on the reality vs. perception of a long list of digital marketing buzzwords like big data, adtech, SEO, retargeting, social-anything and dozens more.