The Red Bull question:
Are they really the gold standard for content marketing?

When we talk about content marketing, it’s often John Deere tractors back in the late 1800s that come up as one of the first examples of our profession. Creating content for farmers that was valuable, helpful and free was a genius move as a way of establishing a relationship of trust with both current customers and future prospects.

In the future, when our era is studied, it’s likely Red Bull will be the name that comes up most often in content marketing. But unlike John Deere, Red Bull’s approach is so radical and so specific. It leads to the question: Is there really anything that a B2B company can learn from this B2C giant?

Let’s find out.

Is Red Bull too unique to be a useful example?

You’re not going to be surprised by the numbers – 10 million YouTube subscribers; 15 million Instagram followers. Oh, and they sell almost 8 billion cans of Red Bull per year worldwide.

The problem here is that it’s unlikely your company created not just a new product but an entire new product category. Inspired by an energy drink he found in Thailand, Red Bull’s Austrian founder launched the first carbonated energy drink in Europe. They had a 100% market share.

But what if your company is entering, or currently working in, a crowded market with multiple competitors?

What you can take away is this: Match your offering to your content. The Red Bull that was once putting out commercials (‘Red Bull gives you wings’) is a far cry from the Red Bull we know today which understands that an energy drink matches perfectly with adrenaline-based sports.

But more than just matching, it’s about quality. Red Bull has become a stamp of quality so that if they’re involved in an event – whether motocross or Formula 1 or a man parachuting from the edges of Space – it’s going to be cutting edge, rich, and perfectly targeted.

So think about your industry, discuss with peers, and then engage an agency that truly understands content marketing and has real writers with journalism backgrounds. They will be able to create real quality and dig deep enough to uncover the gems you can share with your audience, ensuring that your content is really about something, and not just promo messaging with the promo taken out.

Red Bull is B2C, so what should B2B marketers take away?

Here’s how to look at it. The ‘B2B’ name can often be misunderstood when it comes to the content side of things. You are not talking to a business – you’re talking to a human being in a business.

And if there is one thing that all audiences, whether B2C or B2B, have in common it’s this: They can spot a lack of authenticity.

No one questions Red Bull’s commitment to extreme sports. They don’t sponsor events, they create them. They’re not there for the ride, they’re in the driving seat. They are all-in when it comes to aligning product with content. And they really know their audience.

Even if your content production is simply a few articles or infographics, you can still ensure that you are fully owning your small part of your industry. This is achieved through a strategic and consistent approach to putting out content that really leverages your unique expertise, knowledge that only you possess, and then communicating that through professional writers and editors to reach your audience.

Okay, but I can’t put on content-generating events like Red Bull

Your business has events. They may not be airplane races over the city of Istanbul, but whether it’s conferences, internal events, or even just moments in the life of your business, there is content to be produced.

So the interview with your CEO at the conference is on-message and fully aligned with the thought leadership articles he published prior to attending. And the presentation that you just gave to a potential client, that’s also re-purposed into a super-sleek infographic that you’re now sending out across social.

And sometimes your events are simply internal meetings which bring up interesting and original ideas, including tiny gaps within your industry which are not being addressed. It’s communicating those to your content marketing agency, which will help produce content that is original and truly positions you and your company as thought leaders.

Finally, think about culture

It’s only very few brands – Red Bull and Nike spring to mind – that can turn a product into culture. While this isn’t possible for the majority of B2B companies, thinking about the culture around your product or service is vital for creating great content.

What is the ‘feel’ of your company? And are the images, the tone of voice used in your content, the way your website looks – are these all speaking to that ‘feel’? Your potential buyers react emotionally to what they see and read – we all do. The question is, are you harnessing that and making sure your content really does feel like a helping hand?

Create a unique ‘feel’ that separates you from your competitors. When you understand this, you can give your brand its voice.

A new way of thinking

Red Bull’s mission statement is ‘Giving wings to people and ideas’, and its content certainly lives up to that. What is your content mission statement? Try to narrow it down to just a few words, and keep it specific.

Then get creating.

Posted inContent Marketing Posted on
written by

Alex Ionides Managing Director, Silx