3 Lessons Content Marketers Should Learn from Retail

retail product shelf

Erin Sparks runs Edge of the Web radio, the podcast we sponsor and participate in every week. Erin and I have become good friends over the years and had an amazing discussion this week. I was discussing an upcoming ebook that I had written for Meltwater that will be published soon. In the ebook, I go into great detail about the challenge of developing a content marketing strategy and measuring its results.

One idea that’s floating around in my head is literally developing a set of die, with each of the dice being a different element applied to a specific topic. Roll the dice and determine the angle that you write the content on… perhaps an infographic with facts, a storyline, and a call to action. Or a podcast with an influencer that shares some unique cast studies. Or perhaps it’s an interactive calculator on the site that helps determine the return on investment.

Each piece of content can be about the same topic, but you can imagine how – creatively – each piece is also distinct and captures the intention of a particular audience. Rolling dice, of course, isn’t exactly the intelligent way to predict and produce meaningful content that produces the business results necessary. Which brings me to retail.

My daughter, Kait Karr, worked for a beauty supply shop for a couple years. She enjoyed the job, and it taught her a ton about retail and how I’ve been rethinking content strategies over the years. As a receiving manager, my daughter was in charge of all the product entering the store, was in charge of inventory, and in charge of marketing displays throughout the store.

Retail Lessons for Content Marketers

  1. Inventory – Just as store visitors get frustrated when the store doesn’t have a product they’re looking for, you’re losing customers because you don’t have the content on your site that prospects are seeking. We don’t tend to look at a content marketing strategy as taking inventory because marketers tend to, instead, figure it out as they go. Why is that? Why don’t content marketers create a minimal viable list of content? Instead of asking how many blog posts per week companies should be publishing, why aren’t content marketers establishing an expectation of the total hierarchy of content required?
  2. Audits – Instead of developing content calendars that propose familiar topics to write for the next month, why aren’t we, instead, doing a gap analysis between the inventory required and the content already published? This will ensure minimal duplication and help flush out the content. Much like building a house, the framework can first be built, then the sub-systems, and eventually the decorations!
  3. Promotions – While the store has a ton of products, the store chooses to focus their promotion of highly profitable or new products each month. Employees are educated, campaigns are developed, product displays are designed, and an omni-channel strategy to promote the content is developed to maximize profitability and results. Over time, as products and offers are rotated, the store fine-tunes messaging and promotions to continue to increase business results.

For this reason, we need to differentiate writing from content marketing. Someone with incredible copywriting and editorial talent doesn’t mean that they have the insight necessary to inventory, audit, and develop promotions for your business. This infographic from Uberflip walks through all the qualities of successful content marketers.

Side note: I’ll keep you posted on the die and the ebook!


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