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The last few months have filled our days with uncertainty and discomfort, and for those in the marketing industry, the altered media landscape has forced brands to lean into new strategies. The COVID-19 pandemic coupled with the influence of the Black Lives Matter movement has created an increased urgency for brands to respond, provide solidarity to those in need and celebrate human relationships. The circumstances we are living in has impacted the way that users are consuming media and making buying decisions between crowd marketing and content marketing.
Marketers have proven in 2020 the importance of adapting and using resources wisely. The question becomes what techniques will take over for the remainder of the year? Will crowd marketing continue to rise or will marketers fall back on a more content-driven approach given the circumstances? Before diving deeper into crowd marketing vs. content marketing, it is important to recall the stages of the consumer buying process.
Consumer Buying Process
- Recognition: Consumers become aware of a problem or need and what kind of product or service would be able to solve or meet the need.
- Research: Consumers search for internal and external information and alternative products or solutions.Consumers evaluate all alternative products or solutions and weigh the pros and cons of each.
- Purchase: Consumers form the intention to buy the preferred product or solution.
- Post-purchase behavior: Consumers assesses the satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) of the purchase.
In comparing crowd marketing vs. content marketing, the primary differences lie in the approach to the first three steps of the buying process.
We’ve all heard the longstanding phrase, “Content is King!” Content marketers live by this phrase and form strategies centered around creating and sharing valuable, relevant and consistent content that informs buying decisions. Content marketing is not always focused on selling one specific product or service, but more about selling the value of the experience a customer will have when investing in their brand.
Content Marketing in Practice:
John Deere is one of the most iconic examples of content marketing done right. The Furrow, a brand publication dating back to 1895, was designed to help customers solve issues with John Deere products and show the company’s expertise in the agriculture industry. They are seen to be one of the first brands to use content marketing, before content marketing was mainstream. You may wonder how has content marketing worked for John Deere for so long?
- John Deere acknowledges their established reputation as a thought leader and uses that to their advantage.
- Providing the educational resources that customers seek has improved credibility of the brand.
- Over the years, John Deere has picked up on the changing needs of their audience, adding specialized digital publications, designing reader-friendly web pages, and shifting gears to incorporate online blogs and social media posts.
Content Marketing & the Buying Process:
Content Marketing asks, “What kind of information do people want and need to make a decision?”
At the recognition stage of the buying process, quality content prompts people to explore a company, product, service or question that arises due to a personal connection to the content. Let’s say an individual stumbled upon an article about John Deere’s heroic mission to provide face shields and PPE to first responders. That story alone adds value to the brand in the eyes of someone who may not have been familiar with the company or its products.
Added value is an important result of content marketing, especially in the research and consideration stages of the buying process. Content marketing serves to expose a potential customer to a variety of information they can use to inform their search. For example, John Deere provides a variety of online publications for a variety of audiences. From farmers to construction workers to children and military men and women, they offer something for everyone. The depth and quality of their content makes it more likely for someone to connect with their brand, form a positive perception, and choose them over a competitor in the future.
Creating quality, compelling content will never go out of style and will continue to impact marketing trends in the remainder of 2020. However, the ways in which marketers execute content marketing strategies will change and adapt and the technique of crowd marketing is an excellent example.
Crowd marketing is a relatively new phenomenon that thrives on the power of word-of-mouth. It can also be seen as more concentrated way to carry out content marketing. The key to crowd marketing is building deeper trust and people tend to trust their friends, family members and valued influencers. In fact, 80% of consumers purchase something after seeing a recommendation by a trusted social influencer.
Though not totally synonymous with influencer marketing, crowd marketing works best when a brand strategically delivers messages directly to a pre-established target audience with interests that align with their brand. In many ways, content marketers can accomplish goals by using crowd marketing techniques as a means to boost engagement and put their customers’ needs first, all while being much more time and cost effective.
Sounds great, doesn’t it?
Crowd Marketing in Practice:
Let’s use GoPro as an example here as they are known as expert content marketers. Their content-driven approach plunges into the realm of crowd marketing by ways of delivery. GoPro is known to highlight user-generated content to amplify their brand, as well as partner with a variety of influencers from athletes to moms.
- By sharing high-quality, well-edited videos and proof of what their cameras can provide, we are able to live vicariously through the videos and are inspired to take an adventure of our own.
- GoPro recognizes the convincing nature of well-placed content in the spaces that their customers are looking for, such as their friend’s Instagram feed or their favorite vlogger’s YouTube channel.
- Using real-life customers to both influence and share their content, GoPro has been able to tap into many niche markets
Crowd Marketing & the Buying Process:
While Content Marketing focuses on the “what,” Crowd Marketing asks, “How do people prefer to consume information they need to make a decision?”
In the recognition stage, crowd marketing allows for a brand to spark an interest using someone else to do so. Being as how many people place a higher value in the opinion of others, the crowd marketing approach places product/service information in the hands of those trusted sources who will deliver the information in the format and tone that a consumer prefers.
Imagine you’re big into skateboarding. You would follow Instagram accounts and people who are in the skateboarding community, such as Leticia Bufoni. As you scroll through her feed and see a new video showing her skills. Without being in-your-face, you are exposed to GoPro and their versatile cameras and brand. In addition, GoPro’s Instagram feed incorporates photos of real customers showing off their favorite products. This brings about that sense of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), which deepens the connection to GoPro and what they stand for.
In regards to the buying process, crowd marketing eliminates much of the work in the research and consideration stages. When brands invest in influencers and encourage customers to share support of their product, this can cut out the need for consumers to look elsewhere because a credible endorsement is often deemed more reliable.
Both content marketing and crowd marketing have their benefits, and this table illustrates the notion that crowd marketing is an extension of content marketing strategies.
|Ability to Attract New Audiences
|Strengthens Brand Reputation
Who Should Use Which Style
In considering the benefits above, both strategies aren’t exclusive because each industry and company is different and has different objectives. The initial undertaking of content marketing can be time consuming and relatively costly to identify the most effective channels and mediums. Companies who are on tighter budgets might consider using crowd marketing techniques in order to focus on one channel or delivery method.
Crowd marketing also speeds up the content creation process by bringing in outside sources like influencers, celebrities and current customers to share their stories. There are many ways that brands can get involved in both content and crowd marketing. The key of all marketing efforts is to approach it with the audience’s needs in mind.
Marketing might be Making its Way to You
The uniting element that impacts all of us and our needs is the fact that we are still facing historical and unpredictable times in 2020. The desire for connection is higher than ever and staying in touch with consumers has never been more important.
A company’s ability to show their commitment to their audience will remain the top priority for marketers, no matter the approach. Companies must continue to make an effort to provide customers with the content they want in the ways they want to receive it. In doing so, we will likely see a mix of both content and crowd marketing to do this. By using crowd marketing techniques to enhance content and planning an influencer strategy, more marketing control will be at the hands of consumers… including yours. After all, brands depend on us to reveal to them how we like to receive content and make decisions.
If it comes down to it, will you join the crowd?