Content Marketing with Consumer Packaged Goods: Experts Talk Challenges & Solutions

CPG companies have a big problem. 

It's widespread, it's hard to deal with and it costs lots of money.

It's a problem of trust -- specifically, a lack of trust.

"We live in a world where 74% of consumers do not trust what a company has to say," said Joel Warady, Chief Marketing Officer at Enjoy Life Foods, "and therefore advertising is being ignored."

Consumers have millions of choices, so they're picky about what they buy -- and the newest generation is doing that even more.

"People trust brands less and less, and the millennials are less brand loyal. They love to experiment. They love to try new things, and their attention span is short," Warady said.

Happily, there's a solution: content marketing. It's not as simple as hitting publish and watching the cash roll in, but, done properly, it can establish trust. "Content marketing is a way to grab their attention, keep them interested, and surprise them with new info," Warady observed.

We chatted with marketing pros like Warady, Ana Luiza Rangel, consultant for Arbonne International and Leah Betancourt from ScribbleLive about how CPG brands can use content marketing effectively. 

Here are the 6 best pieces of advice on how content marketing can be effective for CPG brands.

1) Patience Is a Virtue

Good content marketing requires a consistent effort over a period of time. Customers have to learn to turn to you for quality content that helps them solve problems on a regular basis. If you do that often enough, you will see real results.

"In my years in consulting, we looked at data from a number of CPG players over time, through good and bad times," Rangel said. Those that grew their businesses were those that kept investing -- and content marketing is one more way to invest in your brands."

Be sure that you have a consistent narrative, one that's focused on providing your audience with high quality content that has real value. "With content marketing, if the content is relevant, and correct, and meaningful, the trust will build, but it takes time for this to occur organically," Warady noted.

Tip: There are many tools available to you that can clue you into what your audience wants to read about.

2) Don't Shoot Yourself in the Foot

There is a payoff at the end of the content marketing rainbow, but getting there takes time. Don't rush just to publish (or, as my dad says, "Don't talk just to hear your head rattle.") Have a plan, set your content goals and understand it can be OK to stay silent.

"You can't and shouldn't post content just to post content," Warady emphasized. "If it isn't relevant, no one will care, and the strategy will backfire. Even if your editorial calendar says it is time to post, if you have nothing to say, it is better to keep quiet than be boring. No one loves boring."

If you start a content marketing effort, don't abandon it. Be honest about how often you can commit to posting and be sure you have the resources to follow through. It's also crucial that the content you post has value to the people who will read it.

"Over the past couple of years I have seen 'abandoned' Facebook pages, Twitter profiles, websites without updated recipes," Rangel said. "Granted, a lot of those were brands that were saying nothing relevant in the first place -- no wonder they didn't see any results."

--- ScribbleLive's integrated analytics make it easy to see what content is making the biggest impact so you can make informed marketing decisions about what to write next. Click here for a free trial. ---

3) Keep Moving

If your company is new to content marketing, you are going to find some obstacles. A lot of companies are nervous about publishing content but the fact is, you won't know if it works unless you try it.

However, you can't do it alone, so it helps to have some reasons for your company to turn to content marketing. Start with the fact that your competitors are almost certainly using it -- or will be soon. "Content marketing will continue to capture a larger percentage of the marketing dollars due to the need to grow engagement with consumers," Warady observed.

Even if your direct competition is ignoring content marketing, the big players aren't, so change is coming. "I see CPG companies start[ing] to shift dollars to digital -- and content being part of digital. It starts with the big guys: P&G, Mondelez, Unilever, then others start to follow," Rangel agreed.

Besides, nothing matters more than the way customers see your company. "The consumer owns the brand, and the company is the brand steward working for the consumer," Warady said. "People starting out in marketing have to have a loud voice to convince the legacy marketing people how true this is."

If you need some additional ways to get buy-in from corporate leadership, this article offers some great tips.

4) Look to the Leaders

Showing your bosses examples of great content marketing is another way to get them excited -- nothing succeeds like success. "The #1 CPG campaign out there is Dove," Rangel said. "Especially the video with the forensic artist, called "Real Beauty Sketches."  It encourages talk about something very important to women, self esteem, and that ripples, goes viral and increases brand relevance."

Nor is Dove alone in that. Other brands are getting good at creating content that drives customer engagement. "I see some categories where consumers are naturally open to getting content and engaging with the brands -- P&G is doing an amazing job with new moms and Pampers and I see ingredients (cooking, baking etc) being a category where consumers want to get involved," she said.

Turning your customers into passionate advocates for your brand is one of the most rewarding outcomes of content marketing -- and CPG brands have a built-in advantage. People who use your product are already fans, content marketing lets you double their value. 

"One of the key things CPGs must do is focus on differentiating capabilities and define their way to play," Betancourt observed. "Content marketing allows them to do that. The advantage is CPGs have strong brand advocates -- and can tap into that on social media."

--- ScribbleLive's integrated analytics make it easy to see what content is making the biggest impact so you can make informed marketing decisions about what to write next. Click here for a free trial. ---

5) Learn From Your Failures

No one -- not even the giants of the content marketing world -- gets it right all the time. The nature of content marketing is that you need feedback to get better, and improving means you have to fail some.

"Here is the great thing, if it fails, it goes away, and you get to redeem yourself. So try new things and don't worry about being perfect," Warady noted. "Our early YouTube videos were horrendous, but we tried, and we will try again. It is a great time to be in marketing because everything is changing so quickly. Experiment!"

Remember, you will not make sales right away, so learn how to measure what's working in other ways. "The ROI-mentality just doesn't work in this case," Rangel said. "There are brand metrics out there for a reason -- you start seeing those metrics change (trust, loyalty, engagement etc) before you see the sales dollars."

For more tips on how to get the most out of your content marketing efforts, visit Engage Magazine. To learn how ScribbleLive's software can help you reach customers -- and keep them around -- click here for a free trial.

To see the rest of our chat with our panel of pros, scroll down.
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