After publishing an article about content marketing of three global giants: Michelin, Pirelli and Guinness, our subscribers were strongly surprised as not many knew the stories.
The artice has not yet been translated to English, but in a shortcut:
– When Michelin entered the market with tires, there were only 3,000 cars in France.
At the time, the company’s founders, André and Édouard Michelin, published a guidebook that, as it turned out years later, not only helped the company grow, but in the process revolutionized the world’s gastronomy.
To this day, the stars the company awarded are the gold standard in the restaurant industry.
– In the 1950s, Hugh Beaver, managing director of Guinness Breweries, argued with a colleague about which was the fastest bird in Europe.
In those days, there was no Google and it was difficult for them to find a definitive answer to this question. So Hugh came up with the idea of creating a Book, collecting – all the ‘best’. This is how the “Guinness Book of World Records” was created, and it was initially distributed in bars.
– Pirelli showed that a corporate calendar can be a work of art. The company invested in the best photographers, scenery and models and their calendar, a form of content marketing, became an object of desire among their business partners.
These are incredibly uplifting stories, but… how do you translate this into concrete content marketing activities in your company? First, you need to understand what exactly Michelin, Pirelli and Guinness’ plan was based on. That’s why in this article we analyze their actions and introduce the concept of the content marketing funnel.
Additionally, at the end we present a story from Poland – a brand, which thanks to brilliant content marketing surpassed the success of “Harry Potter”.
How to translate content marketing into sales:
Content, if it’s going to serve the company and not pure entertainment, should be embedded in a content funnel. This funnel has similar stages to the sales funnel, making it a viable support for the sales department.
We typically address marketing materials to customers who:
- are just learning about our product,
- are checking and comparing different options in the market,
- are facing a final decision on who to choose.
Content funnel analysis helps you understand why your content marketing isn’t bringing in customers.
Often marketers have a weakness for one type of content. So they create a lot of texts, which educate about their solution but almost no content that convinces people to buy.
So, the content is like a salesperson who arranges a lot of meetings with potential clients, but at the meeting does not know how to convince the client to choose the company being represented.
Another common mistake is creating texts that convince to purchase, without prior education about the solution. Then the marketers are like a salesperson who wants to push a product to the customer who does not understand why they need it.
In order not to make such mistakes, it is worth analyzing your content, see where there are gaps and focus on filling them.
The content funnel is divided as follows:
In To-Fu (Top of the Funnel) we show the customer that there is a solution to their problem.
In Mo-Fu (Middle of the Funnel), we help the customer compare different options on the market.
In Bo-Fu (Bottom of the Funnel) we prove to the customer that our solution is the best.
To-Fu, the customer’s problems or deep needs
Top of Funnel is the widest part of the funnel. At this stage of the funnel, your content is meant to reach the broadest group of customers.
If you want to create To-Fu content, you need to think about why the customer is buying your product. What problems or needs does the customer have? What does the customer really care about?
The answers are often not obvious.
Michelin didn’t sell tires, but the opportunity to visit interesting places.
Guinness didn’t sell beer, but time well spent with friends.
Pirelli, instead of tires, sold the feeling that you are getting the best possible quality.
That’s why it’s not surprising the content they created.
Michelin created a Guide to help people visit interesting places. The Guide was only about good restaurants, so it further positioned the company’s brand.
Guinness collected world records in one place in the form of a Book, so its customers could use it to check the results of lively bar discussions.
Pirelli produced a high quality calendar each year. It met the need for exclusivity of its partners and customers, further positioning its brand.
Of course, To-Fu content can address much more tangible customer problems and needs.
At ExplainVisually, an example of To-Fu content is the text “4 unobvious reasons that make your offer land in the basket”. It explains why salespeople today find it hard to sell, and how to design offers to achieve success.
Mo-Fu, or different ways to meet customer needs
Mo-Fu is a slightly narrower part of the funnel, so your content needs to be more targeted as well.
If a customer knows they have a problem or challenge, they want to make sure that the proposed solution will help to achieve their goal.
At this stage, if you are already talking about the product in a broader context.
Michelin – YouTube video ‘How different tire designs affect tire performance’.
Guinness – an article showing the advantages of dark beers, with Guinness in the background of course.
Pirelli – a series of infographics showing how different types of wheels and tires affect braking distances, using Pirelli as an example.
Bo-Fu, or why your product will meet those needs best…
Bo-Fu is usually reached by the most persistent customers.
Therefore, this is the stage to focus on your product and its competitive advantage. This is also where you encourage the customer to contact your company.
What would Bo-Fu look like in these three cases?
Michelin – Case Study of a trucking company that switched to Michelin tires and saved on tire wear,
Guinness – a blind tasting of Guinness beer (aka free trial),
Pirelli – an interview with rally driver about the reasons why they choose Pirelli tires.
Beware of misunderstanding the content marketing funnel
Often when I talk about the content funnel, I hear some harmful simplifications.
For example, I’ve encountered theories that To-Fu is infographics, Mo-Fu is articles, and Bo-Fu is case studies.
And that’s wrong.
What matters is the goal you’re there to help the customer achieve. The format is secondary. Let’s look at a YouTube video in relation to this.
It can both initially educate the client about the solution (e.g. ToFu titled “What is content marketing”) and convince them to buy (e.g. BoFu titled “See how our content consultation helped the company double the number of leads”).
Of course, it’s worth juggling formats. There are people who don’t like to read, but will gladly watch a movie, and vice versa. However, in all of this you have to remember that the content funnel is ultimately about the goal you want to achieve.
How LIDL beat Harry Potter in terms of circulation
A few years ago, LIDL’s marketing activities caused fear among Biedronka’s employees.
The company, looking to build loyalty in a very difficult grocery store market, bet on content.
Together with popular cooks – Pascal and Karol Okrasa among others – they created a series of cookbooks.
The idea was simple. The book contains recipes for dishes based on the store’s products, so it encourages customers to buy certain products.
The first cookbooks were addressed to people who wanted to eat well prepared fish or Polish dishes.
So, it is a classic Mo-Fu. Their material helps to make a good decision (choose the right product) that will satisfy their customers’ need (to eat a good dinner).
And this is where LIDL could have stopped.
But some time ago they went a step further by creating content that broke all records.
They found that they needed to look at the problem more deeply. They addressed the need that unites practically all customers of the store, namely the desire to live more healthy. This need could be fulfilled by eating healthy (using LIDL products, of course).
Since the topic was broader, LIDL did not stop at just recipes. Part of the book “Eat healthier” tells about the new food pyramid, dietary recommendations and nutritional value of fruits and vegetables. Only the second part of the book was about recipes for healthy, tasty and balanced meals.
So LIDL created To-Fu content, reaching the deep needs of most of its customers.
The result? The circulation of the latest Lidl book reached 2 million copies. For comparison, the record circulation of the last part of “Harry Potter” in Poland was… 630,000 copies. The Lidl book surpassed Harry Potter three times.
Analyzing corporate content marketing from a funnel perspective allows you to take a fresh look at your content, product and offer. Once you figure out what content you are not creating enough of, you can start generating content that will lead your customers to making a purchase.
So, I strongly encourage you to take a step back and think about your content.
He has studied psychology at the University of Warsaw, and business at Warsaw School of Economics, as well as at University of Cambridge Judge Business School. During his studies, he has researched how people think when they are overwhelmed by information.
It has inspired him to focus on communication that explains complex subjects in a simple way. In Explain Visually, he has lead projects for companies such as IKEA, Carlsberg, Pratt & Whitney, Orange, and Pfizer. Fan of rational, science-based approach, and building marketing and sales on robust fundamentals.
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 LIDL’s cookbooks: https://handelextra.pl/artykuly/217957,lidl-wydal-8-ksiazke-z-przepisami-naklad-2-mln
 “Harry Potter”‘s reach
 To-Fu, Mo-Fu and Bo-Fu: https://kevintpayne.com/content-marketing-strategy-for-startups/6-tofu-mofu-bofu/