Keys To Understanding Situational Content Marketing

The right piece of content, be it a letter, email, phone call, tweet, e-book, etc., delivered at the right time can shorten the buying process dramatically and even completely convert an abandoned shopping cart into a purchase.

We all know that consumers want information. But where we fall short is identifying the what, how, and when they want it.

To put it succinctly; every industry, product, and process is entirely unique and requires careful attention to details and analytics. It also requires a deep understanding of human decision-making and the challenges we must overcome to get the sale.

Executing the content marketing strategy is best with a combination of automation, triggered events, semi-personalized, and completely personalized activities.

Know Your Audience:

Go beyond demographics and wants/needs that were aggregated by market research. Not all females age 25-40 with liberal arts college degrees, careers paying 35K-60K, living in a specific zip code think the same way – whether they have children, or do not. Nor do they face the same challenges or opportunities.

Stop using demographics and begin using true engagement information.

Digital media allows us to get hyper-specific in attracting audiences that are aligned around actual situations, lifestyle choices, and preferences. We often find that audiences that think and behave similarly have widely different demographics.

Knowing who they are and how they want to communicate is a key aspect to curating content for them. We all want to be appreciated and engage with information that is relevant to us. An easy way to make content feel personal is to make it personable.

Rather than writing content about selling a product (solving a problem they have); one option is to write about how YOU had a problem that was solved by the product. Use the marketing research info to confidently know which problems exist, how they appear, and how solutions are found.

By writing/expressing how you personally had a challenge, you become more peer-trustworthy. Prospects and suspects don’t want to be sold! We want our problems solved – preferably by someone who understands the cost/frustrations first-hand. With this as a start, incorporate your own personality or the ‘company brand’ in ways that are not forced.

Know Your Products:

No marketing tricks or gimmicks will ever replace intimate knowledge of products. This is considerably more than the facts and figures on the brochure and sales materials. It comes from real-world applications and personal stories.

Are you able to explain how the products work – on an engineer level, user level, buyer level, CEO/CFO level? Where do the products provide superior performance, moderate performance, and NO PERFORMANCE whatsoever? How do they compare to top competitors, bottom competitors, as well as their status quo? Be able to share stories of unexpected ways customers have pushed well beyond design expectations .

Be able to navigate between multiple products that are combined together into a cohesive portfolio that allows each one’s strengths makes the others’ weakness non-issues. This works weather you are selling socket sets, wrenches, and pliers; 401k, Roth IRA, Traditional IRA; or application functionalities across phones, tablets, desktops. Make it make sense to the buyer.

Know Your Process:

Understand the various stages of the decision-making process and use them as goals for progress and action. There is a big difference between encouraging someone to exchange contact information, subscribe to marketing automation, attend a free webinar, reserve time for a sales conversation, or close a 6-figure deal for integrating products and services.

Each should be handled differently. Depending on the product/industry, some of these can be automated, while others should be highly personalized. Some should be handled by different personalities, people, or departments.

 

 

What is written here is essentially the tip of a proverbial iceberg and there is much more to discuss and customize. Connect with me here and I am happy to have a conversation with you about ways to incorporate this into your marketing and sales efforts.

Connecting With Content

If you weren’t yet already aware; one of the big trends in business is Content Marketing, or Demand Marketing. It is about producing pieces of content – graphics, pictures, videos, memes, etc. that contains information about aspects of your business dealings without being overly promotional so that people will want to interact with it. It can be funny, clever, amazing, cute, customer testimonial, how-to guide, or simply informative. The key is to attract legitimate attention and interaction.

This is in stark contrast to the traditional model where marketers interrupt an event in order to promote their business. Whether you are interrupting our favorite TV show, listening to music, sports game, or other activity; people do not want such messages and are quite skilled at ignoring them. The only way we seem to interact with TV ads is to press the skip/fwd/adv button as soon as we can.

Social Aspect:

The basic premise is to create interesting pieces of information that people want to consume, then make it available in places they will find it and perhaps pass it along to others. Social media channels seem like perfect outlets for such content as it is easy to skim and share.

Reads, likes, comments, and shares drive up search rankings and integrate more easily with Alexa, Siri, and such.

Remember that humans are caring and social creatures (for the most part) and often share content with multiple friends who might also enjoy or benefit from your content. One influential follower who shares the post might bring additional hundreds or thousands of other viewers. And a video that has logged 1,000,000 views has likely earned more than double the exposure as viewers play it multiple times or play it for a group of friends/colleagues.

Beyond Social:

Content marketing allows for huge opportunities on social media but it has life beyond the newsfeed. Each interaction with content builds and strengthens a connection to other humans. These connections are  critical in forming preferences to brands for products or services.

They also help serve as early identification system for potential customers and can be the beginning of automated marketing systems to help them understand that they do, in fact, want/need your services.

Email:

Spam and unwanted email is easily filtered and discarded without ever being seen. But curated and focused emails are easily filtered to the TOP of a subscriber’s list. They also get opened – multiple times – and can multiple multiple clicks and interactions. All of this can be integrated into profiles/preferences that continue to make the sharing of content more effective.

Beyond The Sale:

Content programs drive sales. They also build social interactions (pre-sales). They can also be used for active and preventative support as well as add-on sales of new products. Most importantly, they can help convert customers into repeat customers, and even into powerful advocates who enthusiastically (without pay) help you attract and sell products to even new customers.

As you might have guessed, the best approach is that of a highly strategic plan that is integrated across multiple aspects of business operations. Interestingly, content can be used in many different purposes with only minor tweaks. A white paper can be broken into 3-4 blogs, and further into dozens of tweets to promote them both to different audiences through keywords and tags.

 

 

Feel free to connect with me to start the conversation on how we might incorporate a content strategy to suit your business needs.

Business Straight From The Garden

I have been a fan of garden-fresh vegetables for well over a decade, and recited numerous sayings about the sheer abundance that can come from properly planting one seed. Until now, I only understood them from conceptual or theoretical perspective.

Thanks to the dedicated efforts and support of my amazing girlfriend, this season was my first garden experience. We planted beans, squash, bell peppers, zucchini cucumber, broccoli, and 4 different types of tomato. Throughout this first portion of the season, I am amazed at how those sayings ring true and how many business lessons can come from a garden.

Seed Is Important
Choosing the right plant for the location, season, neighboring plants, and soil is perhaps the first step in a great harvest. I cannot pretend to be an expert seed selector as we had several seeds that never sprouted, plenty that only grew for a few weeks, others that produced leaves without fruit, and some that had a short run before fizzling out.

We also had plenty that reached full maturity and still continue to provide delicious produce.

Leadership can use this analogy for recruiting ideal talent and knowing where and when to implement it. Just like plants, some people/projects thrive when in the presence of certain others (or specifically NOT in presence of certain others). There is absolutely nothing you can do to make apple seeds grow cucumbers.

Marketing and sales professionals can use this analogy when identifying prospects and target customers. Some will do nothing in spite of great efforts on our behalf, while others grow and provide healthy yield. Experience and luck provide ample lessons to help us refine our placement, timing, and efforts. But we must be cautious enough to pay attention to them.

Nurturing Environment is More Important
We opted not so use any fertilizers, stimulants, or pesticides to help our garden grow. We started seeds indoors to protect when most delicate. We watered regularly and were diligent in pulling weeds. Plants were groomed to remove dead or overly damaged leaves to concentrate efforts as well as keep some plants contained. We provided cages, poles, string, and such to give structural support as well as protect from rabbits and squirrels. We moved one plant that was getting crowded, and totally discarded one that was no longer producing.

Managing a business is quite similar. We need to provide our people and our clients with tools, services, and support they need to grow. We must also know when it is time to limit their sprawl or remove them altogether. Sometimes, we get great production from re-assigning tasks/jobs.

Nurturing leads through a sales journey, we see some clients respond to different messages, content, and offers. We need to make sure we present a variety of options across multiple mediums to generate the conversations that benefit everyone.

Was It A Lot Of Work?
All in all, the amount of work was pretty minimal. Aside from the couple hours of running the tilling machine, most of it was limited to 20 min each day to keep the ecosystem working. The results have been incredible AND delicious. Through several rounds of blind tasting, we could always identify our produce over that of a grocery store. There was a depth, complexity, and richness in the taste and texture.

Clients who are purchased in bulk tend (acquisition or merger) tend to be more like grocery store produce – they are convenient and worthwhile, but lack some of the commitment and intensity to be really satisfying.

As our early summer garden winds down, we are planning a late season one to provide new flavors and experiences over the next few months. The final lesson is on the importance of recognizing the seasonal needs/desires of business. Some conversations are simply easier to have at certain times of the year.

Happy gardening!