Coming up with strategies for how to target and capture this coveted (and rather large) demographic is a constant source of anxiety for marketers. Equipped with research stats, case studies and creative teams, entire marketing departments set sail hoping to finally chart a winning strategy. But for some reason, men seem to be a particularly slippery fish in the consumer sea. There doesn’t seem to be a type of lure or tackle that consistently brings them in.
It’s no secret that 99 percent of all men want to be great fathers who are also tough, sexy dudes with just the right amount of humor, disproportionately large biceps and a lot, and I mean a lot, of confidence. While appealing to this ideal image, marketers get caught in a revolving door where they try to make product X appear to be super shiny, and then ultra sexy, and then tough and cool and so on until your head spins.
What I want to suggest is that marketers should stop focusing on the product and instead start focusing on the story.
I’m not going to claim that I’ve found any secret formula, but I want to recommend that you take some time to consider a marketing strategy that puts more emphasis on building a story around the product than actually selling the product.
It’s a content marketing strategy where, and I know this might sound strange, the product is irrelevant.
Of lumbersexuals and office workers
In recent years, a number of companies have brought a traditional, rugged outdoorsman look and style to the mainstream. The popularity of this look has partially coincided with the staggering increase in beards and torn up clothes that have become a hallmark of good taste. But these companies are also perfect examples of how to effectively harness content marketing and appeal to male consumers.
One of the biggest names in this arena is Filson. They’ve been around since the 19th century when founder C.C. Filson went into business outfitting men heading north to try their luck in the Alaskan Gold Rush. I’ve always been a fan of their clothing because it’s tough, fits beautifully, lasts forever and has that certain something that’s hard to define.
This hard-to-define quality is on full display in the company’s brilliant and addicting Filson Life blog. Here you’ll find stories about lumberjacks, fly fishermen, archaeologists and bar bouncers in Alaska. The more you read and view the photos, the more you get the idea that this is tough clothing for tough dudes.
But here’s the thing: Many of these products aren’t exactly cheap. While I can attest to the quality of the products, it’s more than just quality that goes into the $125 price tag on some of their shirts. And with stores in chic areas of Manhattan, London and Washington D.C., it’s clear they’re not targeting typical blue-collar workers.
Don’t sell a product, tell a story
In many ways, companies like Filson might have a killer product, but their marketing strategy isn’t selling a product so much as it’s selling a story. After all, how many people in Manhattan really need a waxed-canvas raincoat that’s been designed for lumberjacks camped out in the Pacific Northwest?
To repeat, the product is irrelevant.
This is a marketing strategy we see with other outdoor apparel companies including The North Face, Patagonia, Arcteryx and Marmot. Their websites are filled with amazing photographs, videos and great stories of world-class adventurers doing things like summiting several Himalayan peaks as fast as you and I climb a flight of stairs. However, most $500 Gore-Tex jackets are used to fight off the cold breeze in the supermarket parking lot, not combat the extreme mountain environments they were designed for.
No matter what line of business you’re in, whether you sell luxury yachts or battery chargers, everyone should take a cue from these companies.
One product can tell many different stories and making stories out of a product, any product, is the heart of good content marketing. A talented storyteller can weave a compelling campaign for sparkplugs or paint buckets – or make your office account need that $295 field bag (in otter green, of course).
So don’t worry about selling a product to guys. Focus on coming up with a compelling story that will draw them in and build the relationships that will grow your business.