What does it mean to become a “trusted partner” of a prospective customer, or even a current one? Is it really possible to separate your brand and company from all the competitors making their “sales pitch” to the target audience you share? The answer of course is a resounding “YES!” and it’s being done all around us. The formula isn’t a difficult one to work out. In fact it’s a lot easier than the old style methods of book it, push it, and hope-for-the-best type tactics that ruled the landscape for decades.
Here at B2BrandWater, I try to provide examples of companies who are doing it right and illustrate how easy it can be for you to replicate. I also try to remind you that some of the more well-known brands in the WORLD have already found this to be the most effective means of increasing their brand awareness and ultimately, their bottom line. This week I wanted to shine the light on a little company named American Express.
AmEx now has a forum (or in some looser definitions, “A Blog”) where it aims to appeal to small business owners and operators. After examining which subsection of their target market (not easy when your target market is pretty much EVERYONE) should be the focus of their new ambitious marketing plan, they concluded that small business owners provide the best yield for growth. Today, they are approaching that niche market differently than most companies do or might think to do and it is working.
Instead of attacking the market using sales pitches, large display images with random attributes about their offerings, or mailing out pitch cards announcing low introductory interest rates (snooze), they decided to approach the market in a linear way and not head on. They chose to join the prospective customer at the beginning of their purchasing journey, walk alongside them as they walked the path and wait for them once they reached the end… the SALE!
So how’d they do it? By creating an online community aimed at helping, not pitching. I’ll let Courtney Colwell, director of content marketing at American Express OPEN Forum explain…
“OPEN Forum is an online community and content site that provides small business owners with insights, ideas and connections to help them grow their businesses. It all stems from our mission of helping these businesses do more business. With our small business customers, their growth fuels ours. It’s a win-win if we can help them succeed.”
She further explains the role content marketing plays in the American Express OPEN Forum…
“Content marketing may help build a relationship with someone who will, hopefully, remember you. It’s also a way to continue the relationship past the point of sale. It’s about building brand equity. You have to plan ahead as your customer’s habits will change. This is especially true in content marketing.”
Helping the customers first, earning their time, deserving their business. Sound familiar?
Image credit: "plastic please" frankieleon © 2015, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/