What is Cooking Thought Leader?

For this week’s blog post, I’ve asked long time colleague, friend and content marketing expert, Rachel Medanic, to help our readers understand how companies can demonstrate thought leadership through content marketing in today’s digitally overloaded world.  Rachel has been a marketing pro for over 15 years.

Have you ever visited a house being shown for sale and you walk in to the smell of cookies baking or a scented candle burning? The realtors are using a form of content marketing to engage your olfactory senses (and influence your visit with content). How humans perceive scent is closely connected to how the brain processes emotion and associative learning. Making a house “smell like home” could help persuade a potential buyer. Because of the explosion of media and a dramatic shift in audience expectations around content, content marketing is experiencing huge growth. Audiences have now come to expect good, free content—regardless of industry.  B2B companies are as much on the hook to provide as B2C companies.

Last month, Lorraine shared a number of good strategies for ways to transform your company into a thought leader. A few days ago Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi shared 7 Content Marketing Strategies for 2013. #3 on his list was “A new mindset:  Become the leading informational provider for your niche.” Think thought leadership. Pulizzi says brands aren’t taking their content seriously enough. Among 1,000 companies he surveyed, just 5% had a content marketing mission statement (an editorial mission defining why they were doing content marketing). So what? If you don’t know why you’re producing content, you probably won’t be satisfied with how your audience responds. Also this month’s eConsultancy Content Marketing Survey Report found that just 38% of companies have a content marketing strategy at all.

Making your company an industry thought leader is nothing new. What is new is the digitally overloaded world in which this practice has resurfaced. The eConsultancy report found 90% of marketers believed content marketing would become more important over the next 12 months. The odds of getting noticed are slimmer because media is a fire hose and audiences want just a sip. Thanks to the proliferation of social media, anyone can become an overnight authority. It’s more noise and distraction than marketers have ever had to compete with before. Content has to be relevant and in many industries, it must also be fresh. It has to engage by educating, informing, entertaining or a combination of all three. Companies that can do this and add the touch of their own brand perspective on top will find themselves more likely to be in the spokesperson position rather than just another company in the business.

Fresh-baked cookies are not going to make a company a thought leader—yet. (I keep waiting for olfactory technology to waft its way into the digital mainstream.) But thinking about cookies is a useful analogy when you design your own digital experiences. For potential home buyers, scent creates an unexpected adjacent content experience on top of looking at bedrooms, view, and landscape. The scent of cookies helps us more deeply imagine this house as “home.”

What are your adjacent content opportunities? How can you pleasantly surprise visitors to your Web site? If you know your industry well, it just takes a little creative thinking to uncover the answers and transform them into something that can be digitally consumed.