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November 23, 2014 / Stephanie Vermillion

Content Marketing Case Study: Feet, Fears and a Firsthand Experience

In Oct. 2013, I reached my lifelong running goal and qualified for Boston. In Sept. 2014, I found out my BQ wasn’t fast enough for 2015’s Boston Marathon, and got denied. Ouch.

Content marketing case study: Feet, fears and a firsthand experienceBut that was only the beginning of the pain. I quickly looked for any possible marathon to sign up for to make myself feel better and, as luck would have it, the Disney World Marathon (a bucket list marathon!) in January was still open.

I immediately registered, jumpstarted training and hit the ground running. Unfortunately, I hit the ground a bit too hard, because in early November, I experienced constant, debilitating foot pain. Double ouch.

So, did I immediately go to the doctor to figure out the issue?

Nope. I asked Dr. Internet, and spent countless hours reading articles, watching videos and viewing images to understand the potential problem and learn next steps for healing. Somewhere between a suggested “hop test” and a video demoing diagnosis  I realized:

This is content marketing at its finest.

The consumer starts with a problem (annoying foot issue), wants to be educated before making any decisions (pretty sure I single handedly increased the search traffic stats for “pain on outside of foot”) and then, once the consumer finds a source that explains the situation in layman’s terms, he/she will develop trust and eventually reach out for help (read: new customer).

Now, let’s take a walk (in my case hobble) through this content marketing case study and examine how you can most successfully use it to reach your end goal.

Identifying the problem:

Before you begin writing content or developing videos, take a step back. Think about the problems your target consumers have and how you can help.

In my case, I had a foot issue that made it tough to run and train. A mix of chiropractors and doctors offered content answering the question “What does pain on the side of my foot mean?”. It was exactly what I was looking for, so I clicked through and read from top to bottom.

That’s what happens when you identify the consumer’s problem and provide them with exactly what they want: They don’t bounce.

Identifying your target audience’s problems is easy. If you’re a doctor, compile the questions your patients ask you and (following HIPAA, of course) answer them. If you’re a university, brainstorm the questions new students and parents typically have and share answers in a “New Students FAQ Sheet.”

No matter the industry, your target audience will always have questions – make sure you’re the one answering them.

Providing the answer:

Content marketing case studyI know it’s important for content to be helpful, free of jargon and to the point, but witnessing it through the consumer process was eye opening.

I went through blog posts that were ambiguous and didn’t necessarily answer “what does pain on the side of my foot mean?”. It frustrated me enough to leave the site within 30 seconds.

But then there were those fabulous sites that shared 1) potential problems, 2) easily understandable symptoms, 3) specific examples, and 4) visuals to explain the problem and highlight symptom areas. Talk about a breath of fresh air.

I was stressed out knowing this injury could end my Disney Marathon aspirations, so the content that wasn’t on point frustrated me to no end. But the content that was helpful did wonders – I stayed on the site and bookmarked it for future use.

When consumers are facing a problem, they’re in a similar, stressed state. If you can answer their question and ease their concerns in a quick, helpful way, you’ll be the first person they call for help, which brings me to …

Converting consumers into customers:

This is probably the toughest sell for the C-Suite. They understand content is a “nice to have,” but is it worth devoting time and resources to?

In short, yes.

With my foot problem, I appreciated the sites that answered my question honestly. I now trust them, I’ll remember them and, if my foot issue continues, I know who I’ll call.

And the same goes for all types of businesses. Content marketing gets you in front of consumers seeking solutions, frames you as the trustworthy expert (if you do it right) and makes YOU, not competitors, the business they’ll call for help.

Yes, it’s incredibly simple, but as countless companies and agencies can attest: Content marketing works. And my foot is a big, big fan.

(Shameless plug: I’m running the Disney Marathon for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. If you’re able, please consider donating to help these strong, motivational kids in need!)



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