“We’ve updated our toilet paper recommendations recently, so I’m gonna leave you this.” And with that my friendly local plumber, called over to fix a two-shower emergency this past week, handed me a goldenrod 8.5 x 11 flyer. It was jam-packed with articles set in Times New Roman such as “Crappy Toilet Paper List.” A marketing snob might be quick to call this old school but this edition of Sewer Science was perhaps the best content I’ve ever seen on the topic.

What’s that? The digital marketing guy is singing the praises of one the oldest tricks in the marketer’s playbook? This fan of high-design is calling out a homemade flyer as exemplary? Yes and yes. This decidedly non-digital piece of content posses the very DNA that can help you help your customers with content marketing.

Here’s why Sewer Science from Hawkeye Sewer and Drain matters and how it can help your marketing.

Helpful

Content marketing’s golden rule, as defined by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman in their book Content Rules, states that good content should, “share or solve don’t shill.” Sewer Science walks that talk. Of their 10 content modules in this newsletter only three contain a sales message. Most are packed with short, insightful articles on the best brands of toilet paper and plungers as well as common problems with garbage disposals and water-saving toilets.

I’ve included the full flier below so you can see for yourself how useful this content is. Have you read anything more informative about household plumbing lately?

Sewer Science

Forget that hard-sell or seasonal service plan. How can you answer all of the questions your customers have? Keep tabs on frequently asked questions online and off with a simple tally sheet or shared doc. When you figure out how to answer these, you’ll discover that you’ve also created significant …

Value

When you provide a useful service like this, you’ll have instantly created value around your brand in the hearts and minds of your customers. The next time they need your particular product or service who do you think they’ll reach out to first? A list of companies in a Google search around what you do or will they Google your business directly because you took the time to help them when you didn’t have to.

Create value for customers and you’ll see that value you returned over time. That’s the definition of a good deal and the first step in …

Building Relationships

We buy from people and brands that we like. We always have and we always will. A complication of this is our increasingly digital society. In many ways, it’s made us closer to one another than ever before and yet it’s made it easier to be impersonal as well.

Use your helpful content to provide those early building blocks in your relationships with your customers. Like Hawkeye Sewer, take advantage of small service calls to provide some lagniappe — or a little something extra to show that you care and that you’re here to help. You might find that it was that little extra something that helps close a longer tail sale down the road.

How does your content advance your relationships with your customers? It’s important not to squander these early moments as the best content is …

Timely

Relevancy matters in all forms of marketing. Guess when I care most about plumbing information? When I have a plumbing problem staring me down.

Take a moment to map out the issue your brand solves from your customers’ point of view. Which moments are most critical to them? How can you provide useful content to help them navigate these challenges?

The Bigger Picture

When it comes to marketing case studies, there’s often an underlying theme that bigger is better. Bigger budgets, bigger teams, bigger tools, bigger technology. Success seems attainable only by big brands. Marketing like Sewer Science helps bust that myth. Little brands can do big things.

And those things aren’t always digital either. It’s an oft heard expression from Abraham Maslow, but sometimes “if you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” As social media and digital marketers, it’s our responsibility to ground all of the content we create with a business objective packaged in a format that is most useful to the customer. Sometimes that’s a mobile app and sometimes that’s an old-school trifold brochure. Regardless, they are delivered in a way that is most meaningful to your audience.

When it comes to the content you create, take a page from Sewer Science and be helpful and relevant and you’ll be on your way to building value and relationships both online and off.

Photo via Flicker user Dave Herholz