Why Content Marketing?

Why choose content marketing?  In this post I describe some of the answers to this question and how they can impact your brand. Chipotle is a great example of content marketing. Here’s the back story:
Chipotle takes a more organic, grass roots approach to marketing.  Much of the focus is on creating websites, videos, foundations, education, and memorable events. Chipotle’s CMO, Mark Crumpacker said that, “Chipotle was built on word-of-mouth marketing.  We’re focused on reigniting word-of-mouth marketing, rather than big advertising campaigns.”  This is interesting based on the standard marketing and advertising practices of the fast food industry.

A Simple Idea

CEO Steve Ells tells his story on the about page of Chipotle’s website. He mentions how he has been blamed for not paying attention to the fast food world. He remarks that they are right! Steve Ells originally wanted to open the first Chipotle as a way for funding a full scale restaurant that he wanted to own.

One of Steve Ells’s insights is that you can have a simple idea and take it so far! Chipotle is simple and it is working.  The same can be said about their marketing and branding.  Chipotle’s focus is on creating owned-original content.  Chipotle’s original content is more about brand values and helping customers than advertising Chipotle.  Yet, when people love it, word of mouth spreads and so does social media engagement.

Chipotle’s content rallies it’s audience around a cause that will help produce sustainable fast food in America. What I find to be refreshing about Chipotle’s approach is that it is not about advertising and food cravings through a commercial.  It’s about making America’s food better and producing a culture shift.

Another post that may be helpful is Content 2020.  This post is about why content marketing is important.

How is Content Marketing Different?

Here is how content marketing is different in two ways: 1. Different from the common approach to online content 2. Different from advertising.

Content Marketing may be a new phrase, but the base of the idea has been around for a very long time. It includes any content that is placed on a free or owned space.  There is no cost of advertising. Below are some of the main differences:

• Customer targeting not-brand boasting
• Content is custom fit to individuals
• Conversation based not attention based
• Content is more flexible

Below are quick descriptions of these differences.

Customer Targeting not Brand-Boasting

Much of the content on websites and blogs are brand focused.  The content describes why the brand should be trusted and how great the brand is.  This is needed, but it only addresses the visitors who are ready to buy.  What percentage of your website visitors are ready to buy on their first visit?  What percentage of your first-time visitors will return? Now you see the issue!  There needs to be content that gets visitors to subscribe so you can keep the conversation going and at the right time, get the sale.

Content is Custom Fit to Individuals

Your communication has to be direct these days or it will be filtered out! Your blog and website should have various ways to address individuals. Each individual is a persona that content is specifically developed for. This content is organized on your website to direct the persona to specific actions. This difference is that the content has to do more than sound good. The content gets marketing work done for you.

Conversation Based not Attention Based

Everyone and everything wants your attention these days.  But, how many of people/messages are worthy of receiving it?  I would say almost 100% percent of the times when an individual or a commercial is in my face; I don’t need and have no interest in what they are offering.  The opposite is also true. When I do a search in Google, I’m almost 100% interested and in need of something.

The next step to the equation is building an audience on your blog and website.  When you build your own audience you are free to do what you want in terms of marketing.  Your content marketing strategy should start may conversations with your audience.  These conversations might otherwise be impossible if you are just advertising.  Advertising is a one- time shot without content.  People don’t have two-way conversations with TVs or billboards.  In my opinion, advertising will continue to become less effective and content marketing more needed than ever before.

Content is More Flexible

The content is yours and the platform is yours.  Anytime you want to repurpose content for your business goals the option is there.  It is free to post the content on your website.  Advertisments may be used on a particular date and people might not read the magazine because it is old.  Online is different.  The blog post is still available in search results unlike the magazine that is no longer on the shelf at the store.

Chipotle’s Example

Chipotle gets to partner with other people, businesses, and organizations. It’s not about putting money towards Chipotle’s brand image, in the advertising way. It’s not about selling.  It’s more about watching a series on Hulu confronting the practice of confinement farming and chemicals in our food.  At the same time the Chipotle series tells a story providing entertainment.  This is a win-win scenario for the brand and the audience.

Content Marketing is non-interruptive.  It is not an interruption to the main event-It’s the main event! It’s all about blurring the lines of entertainment and brand.  We call this branded entertainment. Viewers will know who produced the content and if you can wow them, you gain word of mouth and you have an opportunity to evangelize the importance of your brand values.

Creative Education is Content Marketing

Chipotle’s Cultivate Festival educates visitors with professional chief demos and entertains with live music. Creativity is important for captivating and communicating to your audience. Like Chipotle you could make your own series and stream it on Hulu. If not Hulu, then produce videos for YouTube that provide value to your target audience.

Why not team up?  Why not team up with non-competitive individuals/brands that share a similar audience base? It’s a win-win! Chipotle teams up.  The list includes: Jamie Oliver’s Food Preservation, Veggie U,, Farm Aid, and The Land Institute, to name a few.  Chipotle recently teamed up with some very talented individuals for new cup designs.

This list includes:

Judd Apatow (Golden Globe-nominated writer, producer, and director)
Sheri Fink (Pulitzer Prize-winning author and reporter)
Jonathan Safran Foer (author of the book Eating Animals)
Malcolm Gladwell (New York Times bestselling author, journalist, and speaker)
Bill Hader (Emmy-winning comedian, actor, and producer)
Michael Lewis (New York Times bestselling author and journalist)
Toni Morrison (Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning author)
Steven Pinker (one of my all-time favorite linguists; renowned writer on language, mind, and human nature, and award-winning experimental psychologist)
George Saunders (New York Times bestselling short-story and essay author)
Sarah Silverman (Emmy-winning actress and comedian)


The cups are great to read as you are eating your Chipotle.  It’s a celebrity endorsement with a personal touch.  I like the cups because Chipotle used more than a famous name and a face.  The cups provide something personal from these talented individuals.

Take Away

To entertain and educate includes the capability to sell. If the audience is interested enough in what you have to offer, they will take the next step.  The content marketing strategy reminds me how important it is to provide engagement value.  The goal of your brand is to create life-long irreplaceable relationships.  Content Marketing seems to be a good fit for this goal.