19 Sep 2016

Rethink “Content” Marketing

When the crew here at LENS first started our brand-building careers in the infancy of what is now called Action Sports (specifically the skateboard/snowboard/surf industry), there was no such thing as “content marketing”. In fact, the traditional rules of marketing didn’t really exist in that world either.

Sure, there were marketing departments, and we managed things like PR, advertising, merchandising, etc., but because we were part of a subculture made of highly passionate people that wore their membership into these exclusive clubs like badges of honor, we didn’t need to market TO them – we didn’t have to – we were all part of the same tribe. We spoke the same language, we did the same things, we understood our customers because we were the same. Because we belonged to the same tribe – were passionate and driven by the same things – we were authentic, and so was our communication.

When it came to “marketing”, authenticity was not only king – it was executioner.

Any action that was considered inauthentic meant disaster for your brand. This meant that the leading brands focused on one simple thing – they delivered the best content. They didn’t call it “content”, but that’s what it was. They had the best ambassadors and showcased them with the best photography, released movies that inspired people and shared the culture, turned advertising on its head with disruptive messages – every bit of it devoured by the fanatics that lived and breathed the subculture that the brand aligned with. We did not distinguish between “traditional” and “content” marketing. What is now called “content marketing” was the only way that we knew how to connect with our tribe in a meaningful authentic way.

With content marketing strategy (particularly as it relates to digital marketing) being the current hot topic for modern marketers, our position at LENS is that authenticity must be the cornerstone of your overarching communication strategy if you strive for more loyal and and passionate customers.

It’s time to stop thinking about “content marketing” being just one aspect of how your brand communicates, and look deeper into what makes your brand authentic and valuable to its tribe as the benchmark for all of your communication. Lead with authenticity and value, follow with content.


Joe is a senior brand and marketing strategist with 15+ years of experience building brands in the sport and outdoor lifestyle consumer goods markets. Joe has been instrumental in the growth of industry-leading organizations by identifying key opportunities and developing comprehensive brand growth strategies.

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