THE BLOG

Use Content Marketing to Sell a Lifestyle, Not a Product

02/18/2015 10:44 am ET | Updated Apr 20, 2015

People develop a preference for specific cars, posh neighborhoods and luxurious events. What they purchase and who they purchase it from is an integral part of their identity, no matter their age, income bracket or geographic location. And connecting with that personal identity is the single best way to grow your business.

When content marketing first became an industry buzzword, it generally referenced corporate blogs extolling the virtues of a company and its products. Those articles also regularly gave examples of how a brand's product line would help users solve various problems. However, as the strategy evolved, it became clear that product descriptions should stay on their own dedicated pages and that corporate blogs should focus more on creating meaningful connections with customers. As Brafton points out, selling a lifestyle gives you the flexibility to appeal to different customers in new ways.

But what does "marketing a lifestyle" really mean?

Red Bull is an excellent example of this idea.

Its commercials, tag line and website sell consumers on adventure, adrenaline and epic escapades. The company proudly displays its logo everywhere, of course, but the content it produces and promotes often does not mention the quality of its product at all. Instead, Red Bull shines the spotlight on surfers, wing gliders, ice climbers and street artists to highlight incredible people doing amazing things.

The brand invests a lot of money into content its consumers can relate to -- and this strategy works. Red Bull has built an empire by creating culture instead of selling its products outright.

So how do you take that example and apply it to your own business?

First and foremost, decide on the lifestyle you want to sell. This may seem obvious, but if you have multiple marketers pushing different ideas to consumers in an uncoordinated fashion, your overall brand message will get muddled and the results will be underwhelming. Ask yourself: What do our best customers like to do? Where do they go? What is important to them? Survey your customers and use the results as your starting point.

Then, produce content that caters to their ideal lifestyle. Discuss important trends that impact them. Take a strong stance on issues they care about, and ask your customers to weigh in and participate in the conversation. But, most importantly, do not produce content that exclusively promotes your products.

In a case study, internet marketing strategist Jeff Bullas wrote, "progressive brands need to become publishers and not just advertisers. Advanced content marketing is a human and creative art form with soul enabled by technology and process driven. It is multi-media content at scale that leverages a brand's reach that is efficient and amplified." In other words, if you want to grow your brand, you need to stop thinking of content as advertising, and stop considering it only in regards to how much revenue you can directly attribute back to it.

Content marketing does more than drive clicks and sales; it increases awareness to cement your brand as a leading authority within your respective niche. You cannot simply buy that sort of clout or respect, but when you do have marketing budget to spare, invest in selling consumers a particular lifestyle. Do that, and revenue will follow.