By creating a space to showcase its shoppers' interests and offer insight on the latest trends, Urban positions itself as an authority on what is "cool" in fashion, and marketers should remember that consumer-inspired content that goes beyond strictly business news can make their brands thought leaders.

It may seem like a bad idea for retailers to promote clothes they don't sell on a corporate blog, but sharing good apparel is Urban Outfitter's style – and consumers seem to like this about the company.

By creating a space to showcase its shoppers' interests and offer insight on the latest trends, Urban positions itself as an authority on what is "cool" in fashion, and marketers should remember that consumer-inspired content that goes beyond strictly business news can make their brands thought leaders.

Urban Outfitters asks consumers across the globe about their lifestyles and coolest fashion finds – from Urban or elsewhere, and then generates content related to these subjects to feature in its blog in the "UO Daily Posts." Dmitri Siegel, executive director of marketing for Urban Outfitters, explained to ClickZ that Urban reaches out to a wide variety of customers in order to show there isn't one cookie-cutter Urban shopper.

Some of the most recent entries demonstrate the variety of consumer-relevant content that keeps Urban's target demographic engaged. The top "From Australia" post at press time features an entry about the upcoming Hello Sailor Vintage Fair in Melbourne. It gives a sneak peek at clothes that will be on sale at the fair, revealing thrift finds similar to what shoppers can buy at Urban. The "From Los Angeles" blog post also boasts pictures of clothes – bloggers talk about an upcoming Los Angeles event, and those planning to attend are depicted in trendy ensembles that mix-and-match Urban apparel with other designs.

Other blog entries seemingly have nothing to do with clothes – such as the most recent "From Philadelphia" post. It describes an upcoming bicycle expo, but the blogger leads in with "We at Urban Outfitters love bikes," establishing that this news is related to its brand and – likely – its consumers. The post goes on to detail the expo and also mentions some fashion-friendly events happening nearby.

Urban's blog is marketing through content by considering the consumer instead of focusing on products. It also regularly updates its content in order to keep online consumers coming back to the site. This is how the company attracts a loyal reader base and establishes itself as a thought leader.

Marketers who are using blogs should take a cue from Urban and offer content that goes beyond business-specific news, instead offering news that is relevant to readers and demonstrates that a brand is an authority in its field.

It would also be wise to optimize content to help a blog stand out in what is becoming an increasingly cluttered blogosphere. As Brafton reported last month, marketing blogs are burgeoning tools among SMBs, with 43 percent of companies expected to blog by 2012.
 

Katherine Griwert is Brafton's Marketing Director. She's practiced content marketing, SEO and social marketing for over five years, and her enthusiasm for new media has even deeper roots. Katherine holds a degree in American Studies from Boston College, and her writing is featured in a number of web publications.