No one likes to feel ignored, least of all advertisers. Things may have gotten out of hand, though.
To get through the cacaphony of competing images and messages in today's media, some companies have gone to extremes.
In 1996, Taco Bell announced it had bought the Liberty Bell. The press release stated that Taco Bell, Inc. was
"…pleased to announce that we have agreed to purchase the Liberty Bell, one of our country's most historic treasures. It will now be called the 'Taco Liberty Bell' and will still be accessible to the American public for viewing. While some may find this controversial, we hope our move will prompt other corporations to take similar action to do their part to reduce the country's debt."
Most people got the joke, especially since the statement was released on April 1st. The Result? Over $1 million in increased revenue on April 2nd and 3rd.
At a lower volume, "interruptive" ads work well. The problem is that we have such a high volume of images, voices, jingles, symbols and packaging that most of us have learned to tune out everything. We're not just selective, we ignore everything from the direct mail postcard to the banner ad on the news website.
One solution is to move toward an invitational approach. Beckon interested shoppers with something truly beneficial to them. Produce offers that are helpful to their realities as consumers, or as businesses trying to compete in a tough market.
What is Content Marketing?
Simply put, it's creating and publishing original written or multimedia material to attract a defined audience to your message. It's an intermediate step between introducing your company to a buyer, converting them to a lead and finally, a welcoming them as a customer.
Most of the time, we think of content marketing as a regularly published blog, but it can also take the form of whitepapers, articles, submissions to online journals, infographics, user reviews, and more.
The Benefits of Content Marketing
It focuses your business on the customer and your message. The first step to creating valuable content is to consider the people to whom you are writing. Demographic questions like age, gender, income level and the like are important, but so are the everyday issues they deal with. If you can help someone's daily grind become a bit less grinding, they will like you!
Customer focus is not a bad place to start. In fact, many large companies are taking it on as a core value to fuel future growth. One example is Salesforce.com, an organization that has built a huge following on the simple idea that it’s all about the customer.
Customer relationships matter. In any healthy relationship, there's both give AND take. Giving your audience something they value should be a natural instinct among civilized businesses. Here’s how to craft the perfect content for your potential customers.
First Steps to Effective Content Marketing
Distill from your database at least one "Persona." Gather information on your ideal customer or pre-customer into categories, such as their reasons for searching for you, income level (or in the case of B2B, annual revenue), likes and dislikes, gender, age, lifestyle, etc. This really helps when you sit down to produce content by focusing your material on an actual person. You can anticipate their questions, concerns, gripes and kudos.
- Brainstorm Topics. Make this a mix of what you want to say and what your readers want to read. Your FAQ page is a good place to start, or asking your salespeople what concerns or questions they most often hear. Check competitors' websites to see what topics they address.
- Schedule regular posts. This helps motivate you and makes the most difficult decision a done deal. Do this and you won't be deflated by the old "I don't know what to write about" dilemma. Plan for a month or two and delegate some content production in advance.
- Promote it where ever you can, especially on your social media channels. What? You don't have a Twitter feed, a Facebook page or a LinkedIn account? Stop now and bump this up to step one. If your content is worthwhile, the crowd will affirm that by sharing it in their online social networks. For best practices on this, check out HubSpot's Handy Guide to Optimizing Your Social Media Channels.
- Include a Call-To-Action, and optimize that article. After you've dished up some great content, ask your readers to take a next step, like downloading an offer, watching a tutorial, getting a coupon, etc. They may not all take you up on it, but it's way better to give people a chance to get more than ignoring their potential desire to get to know you better. Check out the Call-to-Action we put right over there next to this paragraph! You should also optimize your content for search engines in this step before you publish!
So forego the fate of so many wallflowers at the Christmas party. Engage your public in good conversation and mutually profitable give-and-take through Content Marketing!
United WebWorks has been helping businesses large and small navigate their way into the exciting territory of online marketing for well over ten years. From our base in Savannah GA, we can help you too!