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.
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