By Steve Sullivan, National Sales Director

I recently attended a meeting in which chief technology officers (CTOs) were discussing their buying processes and how they handle marketers or sales professionals who are eager to pitch to them.

Hearing insights from across the table is always enlightening and provides a few important reminders for marketers. Here are a few that stood out:

By Rex Hammock

For the first few years after college, I worked in public relations. One of my earliest lessons was taught by a client who expected to be mentioned in every newspaper article even remotely connected to his industry.

“But what about last Sunday’s newspaper feature about you on the front page of the business section?” I’d ask. The answer would always be a version of the question, “But what have you done for me lately?” I quickly learned how to use clipping services and press releases to small-town newspapers to supply a steady stream of client-centric news to his inbox.

By John Lavey | Hammock President/COO

How can content be used to support account-based marketing (ABM)? We defined ABM in an earlier Idea Email this year, and as the concept has gained traction, we thought it deserved a closer look.

By Rex Hammock

In 1957, unemployed magazine editor Vance Packard spent two months writing a book about advertising titled The Hidden Persuaders. He was not an expert in advertising, and much of the content of the book came from interviews and the writings of others.

By John Lavey | Hammock President/COO

I had dinner with an old friend last night. As we caught up, we swapped stories about lots of things, including the health of our parents. We both have parents with heart issues who were treated in the same hospital—Inova Fairfax Hospital—near where we grew up.

This morning, my friend sent me an article about Inova Fairfax. It’s a beautiful story about two teenagers who received heart transplants in the same hospital on the same day, then years later, fell in love.

By Rex Hammock

I’ve been asked hundreds of times over the past three decades: “What does Hammock do?”

As a professional content creator, you would think I’d have an instant answer. Indeed, if you look at our website, you can see that we try constantly to answer that question in different ways—from case studies to portfolios to 1,000-plus blog posts. However, every time someone asks me the question, “What does Hammock do?” I hesitate before responding.

By John Lavey | Hammock President/COO

A colleague recently decided to replace a rotting windowsill. He didn’t want to hire someone, so he researched what he needed to do, talked to friends who had experience, then did it himself.

As soon as he finished the windowsill, he noticed he needed to paint the window frame. As soon as he painted the window, he noticed the other windows in the house needed to be painted. And so on and so on. Success became about making the entire house look as good as possible.

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 |
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 John Lavey | Hammock President/COO

Earlier this week at a client’s healthcare conference, the featured keynote speaker was Super Bowl-winning quarterback Peyton Manning. What interested me most in his remarks was how he, as one of the greatest NFL quarterbacks of all time, remained so devoted to learning throughout the course of his career. And that willingness to learn was described as one aspect of what made him an outstanding leader.

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.