Fender Riffstation Strikes Content Marketing Chord

What Can We Learn from Fender’s Content Marketing Strategy?

riffstationFor companies that make and sell something that’s nearly as old as our society, it can be difficult to keep up with today’s complex marketing landscape. The real giants are always looking for new ways to get out front and lead the way with innovative ideas.

When you think of Fender, Mobile Learning (or mLearning) might not be the first thing that pops into your mind. However, the 71-year-old musical instrument company moved into mLearning tools in a big way when it purchased Riffstation in 2015.

Fender is known best for its solid-body electric guitars, like the Stratocaster and Telecaster, made famous by such guitar icons as Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Keith Richards. So, purchasing the Guitar Hero-style Mobile Learning tool makes sense. However, the innovative approach that the company took with utilizing the content is something all businesses can learn from.


A Little Riffstation History

In September 2010, Martin Gallagher, Dan Barry and Mikel Gainza co-founded and developed Riffstation in their home country of Ireland. The mobile app automatically analyzes YouTube videos of songs and calculates the guitar chords. With the chords synced to the music in the video, users can play along to learn their favorite songs. Users can isolate riffs, solos, and chord changes while learning the songs, and even remove guitar tracks from songs to play along with the backing music, sort of like guitar karaoke.

Fender purchased the app in 2015 for €5 million, according to the Irish Independent. In doing so, the guitar giant purchased some prime internet real estate when it comes to guiding budding guitarists take the next step on their journey.


Riding the mLearning Wave

Over the last five years, online learning, or eLearning, has seen an upswing in mLearning. As online learning platforms mature their responsiveness to multiple device types (e.g. laptops, tablets, and smartphones), the industry expects to see a wider adoption of mLearning across the board, from education to professional training.

Fender has gone above and beyond by leveraging a free digital learning tool to capture new potential customers. And being that it’s the only game in town, Fender isn’t too shy about using Riffstation as a way to advertise its products and services.

Riffmaster is free to use. However, before and during searches, as well as after songs, the app serves users a few pop ads. The ads encourage users to subscribe to paid tutorial services from Fender, like Fender PLAY. Additionally, there are always great looking guitar pics throughout the process, further enticing buyers and extending Fender’s brand.

What we like is that the advertising isn’t obtrusive or in your face. A small banner for Fender PLAY runs at the top of the app and doesn’t interfere with the app’s functionality.

Starting with the banner, it takes about three clicks to get to the Fender PLAY ordering screen. If the $19.99 monthly fee for Fender PLAY is too rich for your blood, you can always navigate back to the free chords.


What Can Small Businesses Learn from Fender Riffstation?

So you might be thinking, “Great for Fender! But my business doesn’t have 5 million Irish pounds to buy a great new technology tool.”

Well the good news is that it might not be as hard to come up with your own useful tools.

Greg Stebelton at Commonweath Suburban Land Title in Boardman, Ohio created a handy online calculator for his prospects and customers. The calculator has a two-fold purpose: It puts a powerful closing proceeds calculator directly into the hands of real estate agents. And it cuts down on lengthy calls into the office.

PALO Creative launched Commonwealth Suburban’s website a few weeks ago. The company has already received great feedback about the calculator. And it’s being shared with other title companies around the country.

Granted – online calcualtors are nothing new. But investing the programming dollars into a custom calculator that works exactly as needed is a big step forward from using ‘cookie-cutter’ calculators. Plus, it’s a great way to build leads and extend the company’s brand, much like what Riffstation did for Fender.