Content Marketing Like Lego® Does It

The Lego® brand is alive and well in my house.

With 2 boys who love to create endlessly with Lego® blocks, I sometimes think that Legos® multiply like rabbits. The running joke in my house is, when looking into a dark corner or sofa crevice, you call out, “You’ll never guess what I found!” to which there’s always a resounding answer, “Legos®!”

Lego® has a magazine for boys my sons’ ages that anyone can sign up for, for free. About a week before it’s due to arrive, my boys start running to the mailbox when they get home, looking for the next month’s issue. When it finally arrives, they spend days combing over the pages, reading the comics, dreaming about the new sets, and enjoying the creations of their peers.

In short, it’s content marketing at its most brilliant.

You see, Lego® understands its target market perfectly. It’s not the mom or dad who make the decision to purchase a particular Lego set, typically. It’s the child who has been avidly reading the pages of the free magazine, and playing the Lego® games on its website. While other brands like American Girl® charge $25 or more for a subscription, Lego® guarantees that I’ll sign my boys up for their magazine…it’s free.

How can they afford to do it? Because it’s their catalog. American Girl® sends a catalog, filled with products and prices. My daughter looks through it, but it’s typically more of the same, and not very exciting. Lego® sends something its target market reads again and again, and looks forward to. What a brilliant way to use content marketing.

And it doesn’t cost them more than it would cost to send a catalog! So while the American Girl® catalogs get tossed each month, we have stacks and stacks of Lego® magazines that my boys read over and over. And each time they do, they’re exposed to a brand message that they carry with them in the toy aisle or when asked what they want for a gift. It’s brilliant.

And it’s something we as an industry can do too. Think about it…we all have catalogs. But how excited are your consumers to get them? How excited are they to visit your website? Do they return over and over just to enjoy the pages? Probably not.

But what if you re-imagined it?

  • What if, instead of a collection of cookware and prices, you instead produced a cookbook, which highlighted products among the recipes? You could also provide an online community where cooks could share their own recipes, and get cooking advice. A home cook would return each week when planning her weekly menu.
  • What if, as a jewelry company, you produced a fashion magazine? Your target market would flip through the pages when planning what she wants to wear for that special night out, or for work. Add to that daily features on the latest trends on your blog, and people interested in fashion would be constantly checking you out, to find out what they need to add to their wardrobe next.
  • What if, as a home decorating company, you produced a home decorating magazine? Your market would review it when thinking about her rooms, and might even leave it on the coffee table for others to browse. Your blog could include home decorating, do it yourself type projects, before and after photos, etc. You could even create a community for consumers online where they could share photos of projects they did, and ask questions and advice of one another.
  • What if, as a health and wellness company, you produced a magazine and website community devoted to healthy living, with healthy recipes, exercises to try, and more, right alongside your products. Your online site could also provide this content, healthy lifestyle quizzes,  along with a chance to ask questions of trainers, registered nurses, and more.

Sure, it requires writers. But if your target market comes to your catalog or website for pleasure, because it solves a problem or just is a source of joy for them, wouldn’t that result in higher profits? Instead of just getting brand exposure when they need something, they get a brand message every time they come for content. They may find things they didn’t know they needed.

And that’s the beauty of content marketing. On your blog or your social networks, think about how you can use this idea. You can provide content that gets people excited, and that solves problems for them. Not sure how? Peruse the magazine section of your local bookstore. Find a magazine related to what you have to offer. How do they position their articles? That’s what you want to do with your content marketing. Ask yourself: What will your audience get excited about?

How do you create and share content your target market gets excited about? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

28 Responses to Content Marketing Like Lego® Does It
  1. Claudia
    July 15, 2011 | 6:56 pm

    Loved this…I always trust Gini Dietrich’s recommendations in her Gin and Topics and once again she has not failed me. I so believe in the power of thinking outside of the box and I love your thoughts and observations. I am inspired to keep thinking of new approaches to my dental practice…I love the healthy living approach. Hmmmm….to the drawing board….
    Claudia recently posted..A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Dentist : 5 Ways to Change the Way Patients Perceive You

  2. Inger
    July 12, 2011 | 9:38 pm

    Hi Jennifer
    Wonderful article thank you. You share some very clear insights into the way Lego works.
    Lego have color catalogs as well as their magazine and my son (10) keeps both in a magazine box until they literally fall apart with reading.
    He is also interested in the commercials/short films that Lego makes as well which are often very funny – Another piece of smart branding, wrapped up in entertainment.
    Lego has proven such a success for decades and I’m sure it isn’t all to do with the fact they have such a high quality and potentially educational toy.
    Thanks for helping me clarify a little more how the company works.
    Cheers
    Inger
    Inger recently posted..Lego Police – Set Guide And Reviews

  3. Andrew
    July 11, 2011 | 10:28 pm

    Hello Jennifer, This is a very great blog.

    When I was a kid, I can spend the whole day playing Lego.

    Now my kids are so fascinated with Lego.

    We also have that Lego magazine. It was fantastic.
    Andrew recently posted..Palm Springs hotels

  4. Kim W
    July 11, 2011 | 12:17 pm

    I absolutely agree with this concept. That’s why Stampin’ Up! has a Catalog & Idea Book. The book features several beautifully presented sample projects on each page and a downloadable “recipe book” of supplies available on the corporate website. I never have to throw away old catalogs because there’s always someone who will want them for the ideas. Our products sell when people see what they can make with them. A presentation of the products alone would not work at all.
    Kim W recently posted..Butterfly

  5. Karen Rainey
    July 10, 2011 | 9:14 pm

    This is a great article! Now I’m wondering if boys are just easier to figure out than girls are, as this model is being used by another company in a male-dominated industry.

    My son did the whole Lego thing, and poured over the magazines each month until the next one arrived. He’s now a 16-year old teenager, so I don’t break my neck on the way to the bathroom, in the middle night any more. (Well not on the Legos!) Now my son’s obsession is the magazine from video game store chain, Gamestop. This too is a free magazine subscription, and my son reads it from cover to cover every month. He uses it as a reference for what to buy next, coupons for games, and for special codes and instructions for winning games. It really is a resource to him and his friends.

    It’s a great idea to use this model in a direct selling business, but it would take really well-written content, not to mention, a great deal of time to keep the content up-to-date and relevant on a regular basis. But it is definitely doable. I’m sure the ROI would be well worth it if our sons are any indication!

    Thanks so much for another great article!

    Karen Rainey

  6. Michael Schechter
    July 10, 2011 | 2:37 pm

    It’s funny as we’ve been having this very conversation internally ourselves (and I happen to be in jewelry which is why my buddy Gini sent this my way!). We’ve seen people in our industry go the magazine route (and they do it right), this hasn’t been as successful as one would hope. However you are spot on about the philosophy.

    We’ve found that the farther we get away from talking about our products or even the materials we use, the better the response. So much so, that we have pumped the brakes on our corporate blog to recamp, rethink and restart our game plan.

    The more we get away from talking about pearl jewelry and go out to pearls, the better the reaction (although only minutely), when we started moving back from pearls and talking about jewelry, we did better (but again, only minutely). When we started to get away from talking about our products directly (at least for the most part) and focused on things like design and fashion we started to see a real reaction.

    The instinct is to always focus the content on what we sell, but the customer always tends to be more interested in what we do (or better yet, what they can really do with it).

    Thanks for the food for thought! This post came at exactly the right time!
    Michael Schechter recently posted..Quick Quotes Weekly | The Grasp Control Edition

    • Jennifer Fong
      July 10, 2011 | 2:48 pm

      Michael, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts here. It’s really interesting to hear how this concept is playing out in your experience. I think part of it is that people can go online and comparison shop product, once they know they want it. I can read features and benefits until I’m blue in the face. But the point is, when I’m paying to attention to product, I already know I want it. I’m now at the point where I’m just deciding which one. But if we can hook them at the interest phase…I’m interested in jewelry and fashion and looking/feeling good…that’s a place we can hook them before the money conversation comes up. I feel more comfortable engaging in that conversation, and I love finding content that interests me. I can develop a relationship with you and your brand, and maybe even find things I wouldn’t have decided I needed before I came to like and value you.

      Regarding the catalog piece, I’d be interested to see how the magazine concept would play out in the industry I serve…the direct selling industry. We sell directly from our catalog at parties, but then that catalog often winds up in the trash. I wonder how much more “legwork” that catalog could do if it wasn’t just a sales piece, but rather something of value to consumers. It would be interesting to see.

      Really appreciate you sharing your thoughts!

  7. Erica Allison
    July 10, 2011 | 1:38 pm

    Hi Jennifer! I found this awesome post by way of John Falchetto and his Google + stream (just getting into it, but always like to tell folks how I found them!).

    As the mom of an 8 y.o. in love with Legos and the magazine, I agree 100%. Brilliant analogy and one that I will be contemplating with my own blog and services that I provide. The comparison to American Girl is also spot on – I have a little 3 y.o. girl who looks once and then we toss. Not so with the Lego magazine. 🙂
    Erica Allison recently posted..Sundays are for Sharing: Meet Kaarina Dillabough

    • Jennifer Fong
      July 10, 2011 | 1:58 pm

      Welcome Erica, and thanks for commenting!

      It’s pretty incredible how well Lego connects with its customers via that magazine. Rather than sending catalogs and hoping they get to the right people, they let those most interested in the product sign up for it themselves. Then they check in every year or so to make sure you want to continue your subscription. My guess is that they keep a pretty tight subscription list that way which prevents all those unwanted catalogs that just get dumped with most brands. The money they save with this strategy helps them produce a higher quality publication, even though it’s free. Really smart stuff.

  8. Gini Dietrich
    July 10, 2011 | 1:29 pm

    Jen, awesome, awesome post not just on content marketing ideas, but on how well LEGO knows their target market. I have one nephew, in particular, who does the same thing. And he knows exactly what to ask Aunt Gini to buy him come gift-giving time. What a great analogy to use for other businesses!
    Gini Dietrich recently posted..Gin and Topics: History-Making Events

    • Jennifer Fong
      July 10, 2011 | 1:55 pm

      Thanks for commenting Gini! Nice to see you here. 🙂

      It’s remarkable how well Lego has zeroed in on their target market. I think it’s a lesson for all of us on truly defining who guides the purchasing decision. Sometimes its obvious…but not always!

  9. Teri Lawlor
    July 10, 2011 | 6:09 am

    Hi Jenn. Fantastic article.

    I only have girls so it was barbie clothes everywhere not lego so much 🙂

    The “what if’s” were great. Certainly gave me something to think about.

    Keep up the good work it is a fantastic blog.

    • Jennifer Fong
      July 10, 2011 | 1:53 pm

      Glad it helped Teri! Thanks for commenting!

      p.s. Be glad it was Barbie clothes. Those don’t hurt so much when you step on them in the middle of the night! 🙂

  10. Paula
    July 9, 2011 | 9:02 pm

    Great post! I was reading through the “what if” section thinking how I could personally implement this – and I realized I didn’t have to because Beachbody does that for me! We have the content rich online community with the opportunity to chat with trainers, active message boards, recipes, and more. So thank you for once again affirming that I’ve found the right organization 🙂

    • Jennifer Fong
      July 10, 2011 | 1:52 pm

      Every direct selling company has the opportunity to create online communities that relate to their products. Some have done a better job with this than others, but I think we’re going to see more and more of it moving forward. Thanks for commenting!

  11. Billy Delaney
    July 9, 2011 | 5:59 pm

    A great idea.

    It would take some serious study to get the lessons out of the whole thing.
    You have a good analogy.
    It’s something that I am going to consider indeed.
    Since I love sailboats of the 20′ foot kind in particular and that size is served with some exceptional boats. This would be a good place to start.
    Thanks for a well written and thought provoking idea.
    Billy
    Billy Delaney recently posted..Three Key Questions you must answer to secure the sale!

    • Jennifer Fong
      July 10, 2011 | 1:52 pm

      Glad it helped Billy! Sounds like you’re going to have some fun with sailboats! 🙂

  12. Joe Barrera
    July 8, 2011 | 1:34 pm

    @Beverly Great question. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on that as well Jennifer.

  13. Christyne Richardson
    July 8, 2011 | 9:14 am

    Great article! It reminded me to use my blog MORE for tips and ideas. Sure, sales pitches are fine (once in a while), but most of the stamping related blogs *I* read, I go back to for the CONTENT, the tips, the ideas. Thanks for this timely reminder as I kick my business up a notch!

    • Jennifer Fong
      July 10, 2011 | 1:51 pm

      Thanks for commenting Christyne.

      I am personally not a fan of sales pitches on blogs. That’s what your sales page is for. The blog is about providing valuable content people can use right now without spending a dime. Solve problems for them, and they’ll be more interested in subscribing, at which point you can provide more targeted sales messages.

      Glad the content was useful to you!

  14. Philip Griffith
    July 8, 2011 | 8:12 am

    Do I know the whole Lego thing! With two boys myself, I have often wondered if getting that magazine was such a good idea. I love how you’ve seen something in your own life and recognized a way to use it. I’ll have to think about what has gotten the most responce when I share online. My company has been trying to make the catalog more interesting by putting more page layouts and other examples of ideas in. I do think having people interact online with their own ideas about your product and it’s uses is key.

    • Jennifer Fong
      July 10, 2011 | 1:49 pm

      Absolutely Philip. They need to be able to see how your product solves their problems. They come online looking for solutions. That’s what makes the purchasing decision easy. Thanks for commenting!

  15. Linda Fleur
    July 8, 2011 | 7:44 am

    Wow Jen! How deliciously simple. We’ve been told by so many to make our marketing content rich. And while I’ve been working hard on that by giving tips and ideas in my newsletters and blog posts, you spelled it out and make it so very clear. You’ve given me great ideas. Thank you so much!

    • Jennifer Fong
      July 10, 2011 | 1:48 pm

      So glad it was helpful Linda!

  16. Beverly OLiwa
    July 7, 2011 | 10:20 am

    Great article Jenn. You always have such great insights. What would you suggest when the product has a very diverse reach. Ours is good for fitty’s fatties and busy’s…so a very diverse group.. several pages targeting each area, fitness, weight loss and nutrition .. or a jumbles mixture of all?

    • Jennifer Fong
      July 10, 2011 | 1:48 pm

      Great question Beverly. Take a look at how health magazines do it. Maybe you have different levels of content…or you choose to provide content based on the group that is most profitable for your business. When in doubt, ask your current community what content they find most valuable. And also take a look at the types of posts that get the most response. By paying attention, you can refine your content so that it reaches your target market in the most effective way possible.

      Hope that helps!

      • Joe Barrera
        July 12, 2011 | 11:29 am

        Thanks, this will help me as well too Jennifer.

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