“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make but about the stories you tell”
– Seth Godwin (Writer, Entrepreneur, Marketer and Public Speaker)
A powerful brand story captures the attention of the audience, touches their emotions, and inspires them to be and do better.
Brand storytelling has long been a skilful art in creative marketing.
In a world of information overload, several brands have taken to inventive storytelling to infuse brand awareness and recognition.
An honest marketing story is undoubtedly a powerful way that differentiates a brand and connects at a deeper level, with the right prospects.
How often do you use Google to find a friend you lost touch with, decades ago? Does that happen every other day?
But when Google India launched its reunion story of two friends separated during the partitioning of India and Pakistan, people could easily relate to the strength of the search engine.
The story was dramatic, emotional, and informative and connected the audience through tears of happiness! That is a great way to let people know how your brand can make a difference in their life.
A good story does not only teach people something new but dives deep into the inherent beliefs of customers and makes them feel smart and confident about choosing your brand.
Another content marketing example, is when Starbucks launched its “Meet Me at Starbucks” video, they managed to take the brand to another level. The audience from over 28 countries could relate to at least one moment shown through the video and thus Starbucks successfully built its credibility with a wide range of customers.
Every story is worth sharing. Before your brand is ready to share its “once upon a time” element with the world, ensure you have the following essentialities of storytelling in place.
A good story starts with an honest analysis of the brand. To understand your brand, ask yourself how the brand has been positioned and where do you want to take it. Starbucks’ repositioned itself from being a premium coffee seller to a place for important moments in people’s lives through its brand story.
Stories emulate a certain set of attributes that attracts people. Ensure your brand message stays consistent throughout your ad campaigns. Havells launched a series of commercial videos for its various appliances but it made certain the powerful “women empowerment message” was consistent throughout.
Whether your story is the new Mills and Boons version or a serious social message, it must have a stimulating start and a satisfying finish for the audience.
A story starts to get pushy when you are only talking about your products. But instead make your audience the hero and tell them why they would be so right about choosing you. The world leader in cosmetics L’Oreal has weaved its success story by letting customers know that “they are worth it.”
Coca Cola did not ask you to open their bottles but instead said “Open Happiness”. Dove did not use testimonials from top models but spoke about the stories of regular women and their experience with the brand. Tanishq established its brand power through a ground-breaking video about remarriage.
Stories penetrate deeper than facts, figures and features. They enable the brand to position itself in the hearts of the audience rather than the precarious edges of their mind.
Our online words are our emissaries.
Rather than simply collecting and translating digital scriptures (a.k.a blog posts, whitepapers, case-studies), they represent a comprehensive, conclusively sound, captivating, and believable set of stories that actually tell our customers who we are.
Well, our writing may make us look smarter or just plain stupid; however, a challenge with many firms is starting and keeping their content marketing program on track.
One of the hardest struggles faced by marketers is how to spend quality time on it, or rather – how to start out with a content strategy with lesser time and resources.
Let’s take a closer look on how to start building a content plan, easily.
Start Out With a Content Goal or Target
Content marketing is the endeavor of creating and launching branded editorial content across all media channels and platforms, namely blogs, videos, podcasts etc. to deliver engaging insights and customer valued content that gain measurable results.
If there is no direction on what you wish to accomplish, your content marketing program, my friend, is like taming a wild horse running through the woods.
You might want to do more than just add to the daily flood of information that rushes through your emails, social handles or other content channels. And if you’re not watchful about what you share, you might do more harm than good.
Step 1 # Why you want to generate content that you want to share?
Step 2# What you really want to accomplish with it?
Your ultimate goal may be to make more money, but a more immediate objective could be to build brand awareness, demonstrate your firm’s expertise and/or create an engagement and build followers.
Define your Audience
Failure to define an audience can kill an initiative even before it starts.
When you define your prospects you are able to create information they’re interested in receiving.
Besides location, age, gender, a few simple ways to define and segment your customers are:
Step 1 # Ask existing customers what interests them.
Step 2# Segment the visitor base by what they are searching for on your site and what offers they respond to.
Step 3# Look up your home page and understand what type of customers it is focussed on/or not focussed on. Can prospects speak to you right away? Or is the site focussed too much on one aspect that it is not serving others?
Step 4#Consider online behavioral tools such as Omniture TouchClarity which allows you to determine your messaging based on a set of automated decisions determined by real-time modelling such as where the visitors came from, what they viewed and how they interacted with your site.
Decide on What to Share and How Often
Newsletters, email messages, social media posts and websites are the most common mediums through which content is shared. It is important for marketers to assess the strengths and match the right content type with the right medium.
Before closing in on the sharing mediums ask yourself the following –
Step 1# What is the nature of the content you intend to share? Is it plain text, images, videos or all?
Step 2# How often does your target audience expect to engage with you?
Step 3# What is the objective of your content – immediate conversions, monetizing your content, subscriptions or comments?
Step 4# Do you have any time and/or budget constraints?
For instance, through newsletters brands are able to add more touch points in one go than any other medium. However, frequency at which one would send out a newsletter can be anywhere between once a week to once in 6 months, hereby influencing the number of times you can actually engage with your audience as compared to other media options.
Websites prove to be an excellent platform to post whitepapers, videos and resource library. It is the ideal place to provide an overview about your brand or business. However, they tend to be passive and often need assistance from other mediums to drive people towards them.
Emails are an affordable and fast medium to convey your content. However, it does not work well if you intend to present long form content or if you wish to connect with audience members who don’t know about your company.
Social media is perfect for sharing information on a relatively frequent basis and for starting conversations that may be carried forward on offline mediums. However, one needs to put in extreme thought for every post, or it can severely backfire.
By setting the right goals and mastering various content sharing mediums, you will soon be able to implement a successful content marketing plan for your brand.
Customers in the 21st century demand great content. Your business blog can be a powerful medium through which you can take your brand several notches higher.
We all know that reaching out to your existing and potential customers is pivotal in promoting your business – and one of the most significant ways of doing this is through a blog. Statistics show that blogging regularly can heavily influence purchase decisions. And companies that have a blog generate 88% more leads than the ones that do not.
Starting a blog is very easy but the challenge lies in updating and maintaining it. With technology becoming easier by the day, it now takes just a few minutes to create a business blog. But in case you are new to this whole idea and don’t have a clue about blogging, then the following steps should help you get started:
Choose a blogging platform
Assuming that you already have a business website (you do, right?), it is now time to choose a blogging platform. This can be confusing for someone new to blogging as there are lots of platforms available. WordPress is by far the most popular and also the most professional blogging platform today. Some of its features are free while for others you have to pay. For cheaper and simpler alternatives, try Blogger, Typepad, or Moveable Type. Look around, ask for recommendations from experienced business bloggers and weigh the pros and cons of each platform to choose the correct one for you.
Determine Your Objective
In order to write content, you need to figure out what you will write about and for whom. Are you selling a product? Do you want to promote a service that you provide? Who is your target audience? What is their age group? Answering all these questions can help you determine your objectives. For example, if you are an interior design company, then your blog could be about recent trends in the design industry, the latest news or happenings, offers and new services your company has started, etc. Remember that your blog is your company’s voice. Your style of writing and your content will determine how your target audience responds.
Pick a Theme
Once you have figured out your objective and writing style, pick a theme for your blog. There are two factors in choosing a theme. One, your writing style, tone, etc. Two, the layout of the rest of your website. If you have a blog theme too different from the look of the rest of the site, then it might appear out of coordination. WordPress has several themes to pick from. It also has really professional-looking, paid themes just for a business blog. If, on the other hand, your website or content doesn’t have a very serious tone and is aimed at young, fun, outgoing people, then you are free to select a less professional theme that reflects the personality of your blog. You may also hire a web design company and get a theme created for you blog.
SEO and Content Marketing
Just having a blog out there isn’t enough. You need to make sure it is getting noticed and attracting the number of visitors you want it to. Content marketing is the key in driving a blog. If you have some knowledge about SEO, you can apply proper content marketing strategies on your own. But if you have no idea how these things work, it is better to hire a SEO company or a content marketing specialist to help you achieve the desired results. Popularizing your content is another vital strategy. The trick here is to share your content on social media channels for more exposure and more readership.
Who Will Write and How Often
Set realistic goals for your blog. Don’t aim to write one post every day if you actually cannot. Once a week, or once every fortnight is good enough. The next important question: Who will blog? Do you have the time? Have you written anything other than your college essays? Can you successfully convey what benefits your customers will get by choosing your product or service? If any of your answers to these is NO, it is best to hire a professional blogger or content writer to do the work for you.
Most importantly: Be patient. Don’t lose heart if your blog doesn’t get too many visitors in the first few months. A consistent traffic takes time, patience, and consistency. All you need to do is keep blogging and sharing your posts on the right social media platforms to build a steady stream of visitors and readers over time.
“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well, that the product or service fits him and sells itself” – Peter Drucker
Customer is THE KING, goes the adage.
And this is truer today than ever before.
A successful marketer is always trying to generate leads and make effortless conversions. While statistics show that sales leads often stagnate at mere 3-4 per cent each year, a good way to find what customers are thinking is to start with solid online research – one that goes beyond generic and transactional analysis.
Marketers now work across various customer platforms to draw a psychometric patterns on what customers need and how they behave online – to help define the exact needs of their customers.
Following are some proven ways of online research that can help you build a strong customer network.
More than 80 percent of internet users are active on at least one social media site and spend an average of 20% of their time on social networks. The new Social Media Monitoring techniques (SMM) and Social Media Relationship Management (SMRM) are tools in social media that help marketers gain insight on newer market opportunities and create complete customer profiles through social network sharing.
Active Users by Social Platform (January 2014)
LinkedIn groups, Facebook pages, Twitter search, Pinterest and Google Plus communities offer enormous amount of data pertaining to customer preferences and reviews. SMM tools such as Social Crawlytics and BuzzSumo can provide exact statistics of social shares of any URL.
For instance, you can draw simple inferences for iPhone 6 on Buzzsumo. While users are not happy with the display screen, many of them from Vietnam seem more curious about this product. This kind of a customer profile can be further drilled down to the level of individual customers.
Blogs help communicating with potential customers. You cannot underestimate the power of a good blog!! Here is an intercept of a business intelligence blog that predicts the shopping plans of customers in detail. Also by looking at the comments section, one can analyse what customers are seeking, are they happy or what are the prevailing sentiments.
Keyword research reveals a heap load of information about what exactly customers are looking for and the different phrases though which they find their desired products. They also tell you of product niches that you might have missed so far and your competitors who are offering those products. Keyword word search engines such as Word Tracker and Trellian’s Keyword Discovery estimate the most “often used phrases” and tabulate them against the demographics of the people using the phrases. Top keyword word search engines in the market are
A quick keyword search on Christmas yields all the things people around the world are looking for during this festive season.
If knowing what your customer thinks about your product is important, knowing what your customer thinks about your competitor is mandatory. Competitor analysis is a great way to obtain the perceptions of your customer.
Let us take an example of how Semrush helps you in competitor profiling. When an online megastore Amazon decides to watch eBay here are the following data that it can obtain and this data can be compared to your own.
Surveys and polls may sound old school but a whole set of new digital survey tools have made the process easy, interesting and a lot less tiresome. The results can be obtained real time and can be shared, analysed and stored. Some of the popular easy-to-use online survey tools are
Did you know that 79% of the customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations? Online forums are places where customers do not share just their preferences but also their grievances. Customer review forums teach you what your products has to be and what it does have to be.
The good thing about these forums is that the people posting their views have sufficnet information about them recorded on the website. This makes profiling even easier.
Crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter, Rockethub, Fundable and Indiegogo represent a classic entrepreneurial phenomenon where you get people to pay for idea upfront. If people are ready to use your idea then you know your product is under the right shaping else you “learn” what exactly your customer are looking out for.
If knowing what your customer thinks about your product is important, knowing what your he thinks about your competitor is also crucial. Competitor analysis is a great way to understand perceptions of your customer.
For instance, look how Semrush helps you in competitor profiling. When an online megastore Amazon decides to watch eBay here are the following data that it can obtain and this data can be compared to your own.
A number of paid market research techniques have been doing successful rounds in the markets. These techniques deliver to you the most precise results of what you are looking for
So yes, you have now collected hell a lot of data from different sources, paid and free. But how comprehensible is the information you have in hand? How are you going to use this information to strategize your marketing investments? This is where web analytics tools come to play a key role. These tools optimize web traffic and campaign ROI. The top 5 web analytics tools in the market are
Expert research organizations and market reports talk a lot about the latest trends and market dynamics of online customers. Paid reports from Gartner, AC Nielson, Frost and Sullivan have proved to be a good place to start with for predicting market trends.
To conclude, the World Wide Web offers numerous tools and platforms that allow marketers to conduct good quality research and analysis of their online customers and more often for free. Marketers and business owners need to take the time out to choose the most innovative ways to target customers and they are sure to find a chest full of useful resources and data.
Other Featured Articles : How to Create “High-Impact” Content for Your Business Blog
These are a few of my (and Google’s) favorite things….
Content, Content, Content….
With the release of Google’s recent Hummingbird algorithm update, the term “content is king” is in the spotlight again. But, what exactly does this ‘sovereign’ phrase really mean for business and website owners?
For businesses, having a continuous stream of content that engages its readers and causes an action is critical for doing business.
This means producing relevant content that leads to actions such as newsletter signups, social sharing, online purchases, generating leads, increased phone queries or even physical location walk-ins. That’s why it is said that the key purpose of all content marketing strategy is to ‘persuade a visitor to take an action’.
In addition, effective SEO strategies can be executed only after coming up with new and innovative ways of content generation across all platforms.
Here are five essential ingredients to help develop that winning content marketing strategy:
When you’re in the process of achieving high rankings, it’s easy to forget that you actually need to communicate to someone.
Whether you’ve consciously thought about it or not, you always write to an audience which can be: sometimes a generic group of readers; sometimes a specific set.
Once you identify and keep your audience in mind, it does more than ensure that you write clearly. It helps you make good decisions about what content to include, how to address them, and how best to organize your information.
For instance, if you were writing for a business consulting site, you would want to use a different set of vocabulary, phrasing and tone that say, if you were writing for a parental website.
The following questions will help you get started on thinking about how to address your audience …
1) What does your audience believe or already know?
2) How can you help them?
3) How do you establish rapport with your audience?
4) What style of writing, tone, and information would appeal to them?
5) How do you direct the audience’s attention?
6) How do you wrap up with them?
Besides, it is important to have a smart content strategy that extends beyond keyword density to include usability, readability and grammar of the content as well.
Businesses who address all of the above will naturally observe increase in their rankings, and more importantly an upward graph towards better leads and a healthy ROI.
Keeping the audience in perspective provides you exactly what search engines love: organic signals on how popular and informative your content is.
There is no denying the fact that social media has changed the way we conduct our business. It has changed the way we interact with our clients, potential customers, colleagues and employers.
Social media channels can act as powerful tools for content marketers and business owners who want to drive new readers and relationships.
A post in Social Media Today refers ‘social media’ as a never ending marathon (and not a onetime sprint). Anytime you add new posts to your website or blog, make sure to post it on your social media profiles as well. At the bare minimum you should have a FB page, G+ page and a Twitter handle to share your posts on. Active social profiles act like gleaming billboards that makes it easy for visitors to follow you to your main website.
It is also worthy to have a social sharing tool bar installed to every single post. This gives your visitors the ability to share what they just liked to their own circle of friends. It also serves as a measurement tool to understand how popular your post is.
Although social signals do not carry the same weight as natural high quality backlinks, they do factor in search engine rankings. Just like a good restaurant that serves great food, the authority and activity of your website sharing the content holds more value that the total number of shares.
Psychologists have time and again demonstrated the power of non verbal communication. They say that when presented with visual stimuli, human brain decodes its image elements in a faster, non-sequential way, while text or language is deciphered in a linear, sequential manner, taking more time to process.
This explains the rising popularity of sites such Instagram and Pinterest.
Since we are all thrive on visual cues, using infographics and videos to put content in front of your readers stimulates a readers neural connections in more ways than one – while allowing you to deliver your message with less effort.
To know what content strategies are performing it is important to have a monitoring system in place. Google Analytics tool gives you an effective measurement landscape to understand metrics such as how many conversions are coming from your social pages? Or is the readership growing on your blog? How to identify the most popular content? Which campaigns are fuelling your leads? Is it email marketing or paid campaigns that are more effective.
Monitoring data will help you sort metrics to quickly find low performing pages or campaigns that need improvement, or high performing pages that can be used to guide future designs.
For someone who is not familiar in setting up and using Google Analytics, a free Digital Analytics Fundamental Course from Google can help you get started. Yes it’s free J and even I did it.
As business dynamics change with time, so does the needs of your readers and visitors to your site.
To stay abreast, updating your site with fresh and relevant content is important. If not, in all likelihood your visitors will soon lose interest and not return.
Make sure that content updation and syndication remains consistent regardless of whether you’re doing all of it in-house or hiring an agency to do it.
A heady concoction of these simple tips can help you create than winning formula that increases leads, traffic, conversions and higher rankings.