Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Campbell's Soup and Ecommerce

What can we learn from Campbell's Soup about the future of Ecommerce?  Content marketing sells products.

In 1916 Campbell's Soup published the first of many cookbooks entitled Helps for the Hostess.  This cookbook, an early form of content marketing, provided value to the customer and helped sell a lot of cans of soup by incorporating soup into each recipe.

Selling soup was difficult because most homemakers didn't need cans of soup.  What they needed was quick, easy and nutritious meals to feed their family.  The cookbook sold a lot of cans of soup by answering the question "What's for dinner?"

Just like the Campbell's Soup homemakers, your users don't need a fishing rod (can of soup).  They need a better way to catch fish (make dinner).  Once you have convinced them of a better way to catch fish, you can sell them all the fishing gear you want.

Most Ecommerce sites look like rows and rows of cans of soup on a shelf.  They look real nice but users don't really know what to do with them.  Would you know what to do with a can of cream of chicken soup if you didn't have a recipe that called for it?  Would you know what other ingredients you would need to make a complete meal?

Ecommerce sites should look more like cookbooks.  Cookbooks have two main parts, instructions and ingredients.  For Ecommerce, the instructions are just that, instructions on "How To" do something that relates to your products.  The ingredients are the products that you are selling.  For example, write an article about how to catch rainbow trout in the rivers of Utah and then list along side for purchase all the ingredients (fly rod, reel, line, flies, waders etc.) that are needed.  You are now selling a complete package rather than individual parts to a puzzle that a user doesn't understand.  You are answering the question "How do I catch more fish?" ("What's for dinner?") and you will sell a lot more product.

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