Looking for an easy way to explain content marketing? Turkeys to the rescue!

When asked to explain what content marketing is, in a way “granny will understand”, I always refer to the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line ®.

The what?

Yep. The Butterball Turkey Talk-Line ®.

When you’re a granny in the US or Canada, chances are you know what I’m talking about. After all, Butterball is a famous poultry brand over there and the hotline has been around for more than 35 years now. (It’s even featured in The West Wing, which is the best series on American politics ever, as well as an antidote to whatever is going on there right now. But I’m digressing).

Here in Belgium, few people are familiar with Butterball’s turkey hotline. But whenever I use this example, I find it helps me get my message across real quick, without getting lost in marketing mumbo jumbo. So, even though I’m a B2B strategist, I keep using this B2C example a lot: it’s concrete, it’s funny, it sticks.

So how does this work?

Every year In November and December, Butterball opens up a hotline which is staffed by 50+ turkey experts, including food stylists, cooks and dieticians. Every amateur bird-cooker with a turkey-related question can call the hotline for free advice. Questions range from the mundane (“What size should I get to feed a family of 12?”) to the hilarious (“Can I defrost the turkey in the bath while my kids are in it?”).

The Butterball hotline answers around 100.000 questions every year, with approximately 10.000 on Thanksgiving Day alone. And although they’ve gone omnichannel – you can text, chat, email or use social media – around 92% of people contact Butterball by phone. And the beauty of it is: you don’t need to prove you bought a Butterball turkey. You don’t even need to buy a Butterball turkey. Butterball helps you with your problem, even if you slaughtered your own turkey or bought another brand.

Now how awesome is that?

These Butterball people share expert advice, free of charge, with their target audience. Even more: they reach out to help, when the target audience is experiencing a pain (most callers are in a pickle). Their content is made accessible through the audience’s channel of choice: people can call, text, chat, email or use social media. Butterball doesn’t just address customers, literally anyone can contact the hotline, no questions asked.

Now that is content marketing.

As I explained in this blogpost, content marketing is all about generating valuable, expert advice on issues your customers and prospects care most about (this is the ‘thought leadership’ part) and then turning that advice into campaigns that change people’s minds and incites action (the ‘content marketing part’). If you do this well, chances are that you are steadily working towards a top of mind position, which we all know has a huge impact on sales.

The Butterball example also proves that content marketing is not a synonym of copywriting (a common misconception which, quite frankly, drives me insane) and that it is a marathon, not a sprint. In other words: a long-term strategy, which requires patience, persistence and planning.

And, as it happens, some turkeys, for evangelizing purposes 🙂

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Photo by Peter Lloyd on Unsplash