James DeKoven
Writer & Content Strategist

Blog of marketing and branding ideas

Opinions, ideas and ramblings

Winning Content Marketing Lessons From a Shoe Repair Guy

When it comes to caring for my shoes, I’m as meticulous as a construction worker.

Hey, I’m a sheltered Californian. If I’m not barefoot or wearing sandals, I’m either at a business meeting or somewhere I don’t want to be.

So it’s remarkable that last week, I tried to clean a pair of dirty and scuffed brown leather shoes.

I stopped by my local shoe repair shop to get some advice. Ed, the owner, didn’t push a product to make a quick sale or attempt to get rid of a guy who was asking a lot of stupid questions (which I’m prone to do).

With the type of gentlemanly charm that seems lost to a bygone era, he described why one product works on suede, why another works on leather, how different materials breathe differently to produce different results, why certain stains would come out and why others would not.

Over and over he said, “I just want you to have the information so you can feel more comfortable about your decision.” He smiled a lot, too.

Rather than trying to sell, Ed gave me an education. He explained the pros and cons of each option and recommended a course of action based on my needs. He even said it's possible that none of the options would sufficiently clean my shoes.

By giving me useful information, I was more compelled to buy. And his straight talk made it likely that I’ll visit his shop again.

Ed opened his business in 1965, long before we had the term “content marketing.” Thing is, he’s been practicing it all along, and even veteran marketers could learn from his approach.

It’s simple: Give people practical tips. Job hunting, network security, home improvement, training for a 10k, making sure email campaigns avoid spam filters, you get the point.

Another way to think of it: Give away advice that would normally be part of an actual paid project. For example, if you're a designer, tell your audience what to avoid - and why - when creating their brand identity.

In a sense, the best content marketing lends a helping hand. There’s no ulterior motive, no backdoor sales manipulation. Just like Ed's approach for the past 52 years.

Oh, my shoes are doing a whole lot better. Although I’m not sure when I’ll wear them.