Passion Play: Inside Enterprise’s Content Marketing Strategy

April 20, 2017 Haniya Rae

Van driving

Though it may seem like a rental car company and the National Hockey League have little in common, Enterprise’s new content marketing strategy is proving otherwise. In February, the company debuted a documentary film, The Road Through Warroad: Hockeytown USA, which chronicles a small town’s uncanny ability to churn out Olympian-level hockey players. Produced by Cannonball, the film shows how advanced and important content marketing has become. It’s not an ad in the traditional sense. It’s a fascinating tale that hockey fans would love to hear.

But it raises a question: why would a company that primarily specializes in car rentals align itself with hockey lovers?

The thing is, when it comes to content marketing, Enterprise has actually been doing a few pretty interesting things as of late. It’s rebranded itself recently as a transportation solutions company—not just a place to rent a car. Enterprise’s VP of North American Marketing, Lee Broughton, told Adweek that the rebranding is a part of its mission to emotionally connect with consumers by inviting them to take part in an experience. Notably, Broughton doesn’t say “brand experience,” because, well, it’s not about the cars.

When producing the film, Broughton says that they hadn’t originally intended for it to be a documentary, but he thought the content was so fascinating that his customers would be delighted to see a 30-minute film. It wasn’t about how many shares it could receive (though that’s always a plus), it was about delighting NHL fans and sponsoring something cultural for a mass audience. As Broughton said, “content for content’s sake isn’t going to find its way into anyone’s heart and mind.”

This type of content production plays into the company’s larger drive to promote itself as more than just a rental car company. Without sticking to definite business boundaries, “Enterprise” could start to stand for anything, such as a luxury travel company that solves its customers’ mobility issues. Ads from last August during the Olympics began to position Enterprise as a multi-service transportation company. Speaking about the shift in a press release from last fall, Broughton explained that the new business and content strategy, “brings to life the fact that, whatever stage our customers are in—renting, buying, or sharing—we’re there to keep their lives moving forward in a very real and practical way. It’s music to our ears when they tell us we make the daunting easy and the mundane quite delightful for them. It means we’ve done our job.” Touché.

The Road Through Warroad isn’t the only forray into more cultural, people-driven content by Enterprise. Take for example Enterprise Pursuits, Enterprise’s recently launched lifestyle publication. It stands out as a publication that captures active lifestyles, but doesn’t plug its business into every post. The content has stellar photography and video, and offers off-the-beaten-path tales of travel from bloggers who have followings of their own. The key, though, is that Enterprise has identified a particular customer, one that craves adventure and wants to rent a car to discover things on their own. Enterprise doesn’t have to sell its rental business to this person through content—this consumer will readily aim to be apart of interesting experiences, and therefore would already have a connection with Enterprise without the company having to sell itself.

Enterprise also has a new partnership with Live Nation, which ensures that Enterprise will be seen as a company who backs the arts. The partnership will include exclusive video content of popular bands and artists while they’re on the road. This is where it pays to know who your customers are: Enterprise did a study of their customer base and found that the vast majority of them held music and concert-going in high importance. Again, the goal for Enterprise is about tapping into their customers’ passions to build a marketing strategy around. In a press release about the partnership, Broughton emphasized Enterprise’s aim to to have content that consumers won’t want to miss.

Fans enjoy live music at a concert

“Music moves all of us in very personal and emotional ways,” Broughton said in the statement. “This exclusive video content is going to be ‘must watch’ material for music fans. We’re amped to be bringing them personal stories from their favorite artists that they can’t get anywhere else.” Makes sense: Give consumers what they want and they’ll become brand devotees.

So far, the passion-oriented content approach seems to be working: Broughton told Ad Age that customers have so far responded positively for the company’s forray into other businesses, and revenues have been steadily increasing. In 2015, the company reported a 10 percent increase in airport car rentals, and in 2016, topped $20.9 billion in global revenue, $1.5 billion more from the previous year. With the company’s growing reach in other areas and ability to diversify its business and marketing campaigns, Enterprise has positioned itself to take over the world. Okay, not really, but it’s presenting itself as the go-to brand for the large swath of consumers who love music and adventure, and if revenue growth is any indicator, it’s a good strategy.

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