Content marketing is a fantastic way of growing your brand, speaking to your audience, and driving sales. But what happens to your strategy when sales alone is not the aim of the game? Using content to provide a better customer experience – without obsessing over ROI metrics or hard selling – delivers powerful results and amplifies a brand’s influence. In today’s blog, Ruby Assembly’s Emma Edwards shares a recent story about content that made the world a better place, from somewhere you’d never expect.

Snuggly perched between two businessmen on one of Metro’s unforgiving 3-seaters, I began my journey home on the 5:41 Dandenong train. Looking around me, I observed the other dazed commuters, craning their necks in the most millennial of fashion as they gaze at what’s probably the latest upload of Cats on Treadmills on YouTube. It’s an environment I’m part of so regularly, it almost feels like I recognise my fellow commuters. But I don’t. It’s not the people I recognise –  it’s their disenchantment with the daily grind.

The train was full of people from all walks of life. Tradies, uni students, NAB business bankers – the lanyard gives them away – and me: a digital strategist. There’s little to occupy your mind on the train, other than forcibly maintaining a stern mouth to avoid that embarrassing little movement made by your lips when you’re thinking in your head. But this day was different.

Within moments of gliding away from Southern Cross station, a booming voice came through the PA system. Expecting an all-too-frequent delay announcement, the carriage let out a communal sigh at the crackle of imminent communication from our driver. Instead, the PA delivered an animated male voice, welcoming new passengers to the train and giving an in-depth, comic rundown of the stopping schedule to come. It’s not that the captive audience really needed that information –  after all, most people took that particular train 5 days a week, 48 weeks a year. But everyone listened. Intently, in fact. Heck, some even cracked a smile – an unfamiliar sight amidst the overcrowded, armpit-in-your-face experience of public transport.

After discovering that we’d be ‘flying down to Dandenong just one minute behind schedule’, the unnamed driver announced that he had a treat for us. If we took out our earphones and finished up our phone calls just before South Yarra station, we’d have the pleasure of hearing his ‘recipe of the week’. This was hardly what I expected on my commute home, but there I was, looking around and laughing with my fellow travellers.

Four stations later, a friendly and familiar bellow echoed through the carriage. Here was our amusing driver, as promised, with his rum and chocolate pudding recipe. It wasn’t a groundbreaking culinary moment, but on that particular day my Metro experience was extraordinary. I didn’t mind that we were one minute behind schedule, I didn’t mind that I could smell yesterday’s cardio on the shirt of the bloke next to me, and I didn’t notice that I had been travelling for near 90 minutes. For once, the commute was a delight, and when I got home, my partner and I laughed over dinner about my story.
Will Metro’s sales shoot up because of this content? Probably not. You either need to take the train or you don’t. But for just a few minutes, the content from that driver made my world a better place. That is good content. Unapologetically real, engaging, and delivered at the perfect moment.

This driver in particular is known to those who take trains via the south-eastern suburbs. You don’t get him often, but when you do, you tell your friends about it. That’s the great thing about winning content. Get it right, and people will do your job for you. Give your audience something to laugh about over dinner, make them crack a smile on the darkest of days, offer them a little relief from the grind. Not only can content sell your product and build an emotional connection to your brand – it can put a smile on the faces of the community your serve. We all have different ‘customer profiles’. Sure, I’m probably not in the same demographic as those businessmen either side of me on our triplet buggy seats. But we do have one thing in common: we are human beings.

So put down that ROI spreadsheet, leave the demographic analysis for a second, and consider content for the many. Content that speaks to everyone. Content worth remembering. After all, we’re only human.
Emma Edwards