You are about to see that Content Marketing can be much more than you have probably thought it could be.

I’ll going to reveal this to you by using an interesting example: a very popular, national grocery store called “Trader Joe’s.“ I don’t know if you’re fortunate enough to have a Trader Joe’s near you, but my wife is in love with the place!

For those of you who don’t know what it is, it’s a privately owned chain of specialty grocery stores which are headquartered in Monrovia, California.

As of last October, Trader Joe’s had a total of 367 stores. Almost half of its stores are in California, but the company also has locations in 30 other states and Washington, D.C. (Source: wikipedia)

The inside of the stores usually have walls decked with cedar planks and their employees are dressed in Hawaiian shirts, so it has a whole tropical vibe to it.

Most importantly, and why my wife and so many others like it, is because they have hard-to-find, great-tasting, foods at really amazing prices. The other thing that makes them unique is that they mainly sell private labeled “Trader Joe” products.

So what you need to understand right upfront is that it’s a unique store and that sells high-quality products.

But where does the content marketing into play?

Their “Secret Weapon:” The Fearless Flyer Newsletter

Trader Joe’s uses content marketing via a special newsletter they mail out regularly called “The Fearless Flyer.”

Listen to how they describe it: “A cross between Consumer Reports and Mad Magazine, The Fearless Flyer is kind of like a newsletter, a catalog and a bit of a comic book all at the same time. It’s our chance to give you loads of interesting (hopefully) information about our products. And along the way, we like to toss in some witty (we try) tidbits and even a few old-fashioned cartoons.”

Important facts about the Trader Joe’s “Fearless Flyer”:

  • Trader Joe’s first customer newsletter was called “The Insider Report.” It was introduced way back in 1970. In it, they told stories about wines they sold. Customers wanted one of these so badly, they even paid 5 cents for it!
  • The newsletter changed from the “Insider Report” to the “Fearless Flyer” in 1985. Since that time it has been free and still remains the primary form of advertising for them today.
  • It’s not just your average “grocery store mailer.” It is written with personality and tells the description or story behind current special store products.

How They Use Personality

Here’s an example of how unique the “Fearless Flyer” is. This is the “introductory” content from the current fall “Fearless Flyer” (Oct. 9, 2012):

“Fall is here and we’ve pumpkin-ified every food group you could possibly imagine! Pumpkin Soup, Pumpkin Chai, Greek Pumpkin Yogurt, Pumpkin Chocolate Mousse Cake… We’ve squashed it all in, along with many other treats and treasures (Organic Silver Dollar Pancakes, anyone?) Find it all at the place where great products always come with great prices (otherwise, what’s the point?)… Trader Joe’s.”

They Don’t Just Advertise. They Tell Stories

Apple cider isn’t very exciting is it? I didn’t think so – until Trader Joe’s described it in the “Fearless Flyer!”

Check out the example below to see how they don’t just sell they tell a story…

“It Wouldn’t Be Fall Without Trader Joe's Spiced Apple Cider Content Marketing ExampleTrader Joe’s Spiced Cider

“We just can’t bring ourselves to print an October Flyer without including Spiced Cider. Once upon a time, we left it out. And we missed it. We’ve been selling orchards full of it for more than 20 years, and we anxiously anticipate its return, year after year. We are so truly happy when it comes back that we really need to share our joy. If we were in the same room with you, we’d share a glass; since we’re not, we’ll settle for sharing the news. And the joy.

‘Trader Joe’s Spiced Cider is made with the juice of bursting-with-flavor apples and brewed with spices like cinnamon, allspice and cloves. And just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, in comes a hint of citrus at the finish to really please the palate. There are no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives here, and absolutely no added sugar. Enjoy Spiced Cider hot or cold, day or night. It’s refreshing and relaxing at the same time – quite a feat for a such a simple looking beverage. Our price is refreshing, too. We’re selling each 64 ounce bottle for $2.99. You’ll find it on the shelves with our other bottled juices.”

Don’t Miss The Differences

Do you see how they tell its history, how popular it is, and use such great adjectives to describe it?

They even tell you how to enjoy it! A “normal” grocery store mailer would just have a picture of the item and it’s sale price. That would be it. Isn’t Trader Joe’s way so much more interesting and desirable?

Who would’ve thought Apple cider could sound interesting? In fact, if you have a Trader Joe’s near you and want to add this to your shopping list, then go here to use their fun little “shopping list” tool on their site.

Let me give you one more example using one of my wife’s favorite products that she loves to get from Trader Joe’s: their Pumpkin Bread Mix.

Check out the description from their site…

“Festive Fall Favorite

“At Trader Joe’s, there are products we bring in at certain times of the year that we don’t have the rest of the year – this Fearless Flyer is full of Pumpkin Season specialties. One of the favorites for fall is Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bread and Muffin Mix, a simple, straightforward baking mix that delivers excellent results with very little effort. It’s become such a favorite, in fact, that we know people who buy cases of it when it arrives each fall, hoping to make it last until the following autumn, when it makes its annual return.

“Each box, combined with eggs, oil and water, makes a loaf of moist and fluffy, lightly spiced pumpkin bread or a dozen standard-sized muffins. One of our favorite things about homemade pumpkin bread is the way the subtle flavor of the pumpkin is perfectly complemented by the zesty additions of spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Our mix has all these things, and we’ve done all the mixing and measuring for you. If you find yourself feeling adventurous, add chopped nuts, dried fruit, or shredded carrots or zucchini for an extra splash of color and texture. Kids – and kids at heart – we know really love it mixed with chocolate chips. Kids are smart.

“Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bread and Muffin Mix contains no artificial colors or flavors and no preservatives, and it’s Kosher certified. We’re selling each 17.5 ounce box for $2.99, same as it was way back in 2008…”

Don’t Miss The Subtleties

Do you see how they tell, in story-form, how easy they are to make, how the mix is unique, and they even give you tips on how to make it?

Again, this is completely different from most grocery store mailers!

My Wife’s Secret

My wife does NOT care about marketing. She doesn’t care about sales techniques. She doesn’t read the same type of things I do.

But do you know what? She LOVES to get Trader Joe’s “Fearless Flyer” in the mail and sit down and read it!

She reads it like it’s a magazine! That is the power of content marketing!

7 Trader Joe’s Content Marketing Lessons

1. Fall in love with your products or services and share that love with your customers.

Your love for them will be contagious, but only if you let it show.

2. Use personality in your marketing.
Generic is boring. You are not. You are unique. Be you!

3. Be descriptive in how you describe what you do, who you are, what you offer, etc.

Paint a picture. Help your customers to experience your products or services in the way you describe them.

4. Tell stories!

People love stories. Tell them about yourself, your business, your employees, your products and services, and even about your customers.

5. Use scarcity.

Part of the reason my wife and others want to read the “Fearless Flyer” is because they want to see if their favorite products are back. Or they want to see what new products have come out. It would be wise for you to make some of your products available only during certain times of the year. Why? It keeps them feeling special.

6. Build a customer mailing (and emailing) list.

Constant contact with your customers is important, so you stay “top-of-mind.” Remember just because your product or service is always on your mind doesn’t mean it’s always on theirs! In fact, a certain percentage of sales are missed, not because your customers rejected you, but because they forgot about you!

7. Actually use your customer mailing list!

I have to confess I drop the ball in this arena. I am not good at keeping in contact with my customers. It’s stupid! I need to get better at this and if you’re like me, then you need to too! :)

Get ‘em While They’re Hot!

Trader Joe’s is so effective with these “Fearleass Flyers” that people can’t wait for them to come out. When a new issue is out there will be signs up in the store declaring, “The Fearleass Flyer is Here!” And guess what? People scurry to get one.

Can you imagine people asking for your marketing materials?

Learn from Trader Joe’s! Content marketing isn’t just about blog posts and articles. It’s more than that.

Content marketing is about creating engaging and informative content in whatever form it comes in.

P.S. Trader Joe’s even using content marketing in their radio ads!
Check out this radio spot about peanuts and listen to how they use personality, story, and description to make the content interesting and fun!