NEW YORK: Walmart, the retail giant, is basing its content marketing efforts around education, information and entertainment, rather than a simple desire to drive immediate transactions.

Clint McClain, senior director/creative and ideation at Walmart, discussed this theme at the Marketing to the Omni-Channel Shopper: EAST 2014 event, a conference held by the Brand Activation Association (BAA).

He reported that one type of content marketing which is currently being prioritised by the firm involves "education", typically taking the form of "solutions or recipes".

A second category of material incorporates providing "deep product information", while a third seeks to engage shoppers through pure entertainment.

These three points of emphasis, McClain asserted, help to distinguish content marketing from advertising. (For more, including further details of the company's content strategy, read Warc's exclusive report: How Walmart sees the role of content marketing.)

"When I'm … in that content space, I don't want to make an ad, because I don't want to disappoint you," he said.

"If you click on a video expecting me to give you a solution or more information and I just hit 'sell mode', I'm betting you're not going to click anymore: you're going to get mad."

As an example of the specific role played by content, he suggested a customer who has bought a pool for their backyard is most interested in material helping them build and maintain their new purchase.

"If somebody can tell me what to do, guess what they're going to get? They're going to get my loyalty, because I don't know any better," he added.

"And I bet you I would stick with whoever gave me that pool information for a long time. We should be there delivering content."

Instead of pursuing the hard sell, retailers and brands thus stand to gain long-term benefits from content-marketing efforts that are inherently useful.

"I think we owe it to our customers to focus, to make sure we give them real utility in the content space," said McClain.

Data sourced from Warc