So let's digest this video for just a minute. On the surface, this is a super cute little video about a guy adopting an adorable puppy. In case you were unaware, puppies and kittens rule the internet. So videos about them are generally a hit.
What turns this from just another video into brilliant content marketing is the subtle product placement. I say subtle, though if you know what to look for, it doesn't really look subtle. New dog owner looks up what to feed a puppy and is surprised to learn that there is dog food just for puppies. And then there's a bag in full display mode.
So what makes this different than a commercial? For one, the video is about the puppy. It isn't a little vignette with a message about the importance of finding the right food or a helpful voice over. The focus is the puppy, not the food. Also, the food makes sense in the context of the video. The video is about a guy discovering how to take care of his dog. Feeding a dog is a big part of that. Most dog food commercials show an active dog playing outside and then cut to them eating a healthy bowl of whatever. The connection is loose.
The key difference between this and a typical commercial is that the visible goal is entertainment. When we watch this, it is really easy to ignore the product placement completely and just enjoy the story being told. It's funny and probably hits home for a lot of new dog owners.
Of course, that's just the visible goal. The one intended to draw you in, hook you into watching the whole thing and get you to share it with others through social media. The layered goal is to introduce you to a product. There is no hard sell here. This is about exposure and it's working. This video was posted on May 29th. In less than two weeks it's been viewed almost 4 million times.
That's a lot of impressions. And with a neutral follow-up URL of puppyhood.com, I'm guessing they've probably managed to draw in a good portion of those viewers into additional impressions on the website.
So, what can we take away from this as authors? First, keep in mind that while content marketing can be amazing, you don't have to convert all of your marketing efforts into content marketing. Even the thought of that makes me exhausted.
For the time when you would like to try this, your first step is to think of what your customers (your readers) are looking for. People who buy puppy food love puppies and will probably enjoy a video featuring puppies. That's not a hard stretch. What do your readers enjoy? What passion do you share that you can give them more of?
Videos are great for this method. My book trailer for Rite of Rejection is a content marketing video. But you don't have to do a video. A great content marketing option is a free prequel novella for your book series. If that seems like a lot of work for marketing, it is. Another option would be creating a shareable "what to read next" infographic. Start with some big sellers and suggest some lesser known novels readers would also enjoy. Of course, your book would be a choice for one of the next reads. Then be sure to share it with the authors of the other books you recommend and you have the start of a nice content marketing campaign.
These are only a few examples, but the options are limitless. Just be sure your visible goal is entertainment or education. Then add in the layered goal of creating impressions for your novel. Last, tag your content with a link back to your home page and you're set.