Why A Small Business Will Benefit From a Content Marketing Strategy 

Content marketing is nothing new, and there’s a reason why it stuck around for so long – because it works. Small business owners who use content marketing to its full potential see 7.8 times higher traffic growth year-on-year, and it costs 62% less than traditional marketing – while pulling in close to thrice as many leads.

Considering that the failure rate of Australian small businesses exceeds 60% within the first three years of operation, something as simple as a content marketing strategy could be the difference between success and shutting up shop.

What makes a small business unique?

There are definite pros to operating in a multinational or large corporation – superior cash flow, for one thing, means you’ll never be without funds for your latest marketing venture. On the other hand, established enterprises are often shackled by sayings like ‘this is how we’ve always done things’ and ‘why should we try something new when what we’re doing works just fine?’

In contrast, a small business operates at the same pace as a start-up or solo entrepreneur. You have the capability to be agile. This means you can research content marketing tactics one day and get started on your strategy the next.

Best of all, you can do content marketing on your own. You don’t need a massive budget to write blogs, to engage on social media and to build a loyal following. It helps to have a team of content experts at your disposal, but there’s no harm in dipping your toe into the content marketing waters to find out how it can boost your business.

Key challenges for small biz owners

So what are some of the key challenges that a content marketing strategy can solve for business owners?

  • Standing out in a crowded market:Content marketing gets your businesses in front of people’s eyes. When the strategy is top-notch, you’ll find that customers will even start to follow your activities.
  • Being seen as reliable: Every business owner wants to build a solid reputation for their reliable services or product offering. So take note that “61% of consumers say they feel better about a company that delivers custom content, and they are more likely to buy from that company”.
  • Engaging with young consumers: Most young people are glued to their phones all day. And while that’s not exactly a win for society in general, however, it is a positive for business owners. By engaging on social media and using SEO-driven content to reach your target audience, you can eliminate any potential generational gap and target the right audience.

Attract new customers and generate brand awareness through strategy

The key for any marketing strategy should be to engage new audiences. After all, the real reason you’re in business is to make money, right? And to make money you need a constant flow of new and existing customers.

Implementing a content-led marketing strategy does exactly that – it engages a new audience through digital means. And that audience is filled with people who will read your blogs, follow social profiles, and engage with your content.

5 simple steps to kickstart your content marketing strategy

So, what are some of the tactics a small business owner can use to kickstart their content marketing?

  1. Determine who your audience is, where they are and how you can find them (Click Here to download our audience builder tool). Also click here to read more about persona building by none other than Robert Rose.
  2. Outline your short and long-term goals and set them as ‘markers’ in your overall content marketing strategy.
  3. Scope out the competition – what are they doing that works, and how can you beat them at their own game?
  4. K.I.S.S. – in content as in marketing, simple is always best.
  5. Get help when you need it. There’s a wealth of talent out there and sometimes it’s better to invest in professional content marketers so you can spend your time on what’s most important.

 

Ready to put together your own content marketing strategy? Contact the Brandalism team today to find out how we can help you engage the right audiences.

 

You can also read more about content, social media and all things marketing at The Beat.

Integrating Social and Print – The Right Channels At The Right Time.

Print is dead. Right?

No, that’s wrong. Print is alive and well, and an increasingly important part of an integrated content marketing strategy.

The real question is the integration.  How do you best integrate a social and print content strategy to fit today’s modern marketing mix?

Print Content is Alive and Well

It’s certainly no secret that digital – and especially social – platforms have captured the imagination of marketers for the last decade.  By some estimates Google and Facebook alone now command almost 40% of total advertising spend. And when it comes to Content Marketing, social media has been the primary source of the effort for most brands.

CMI’s content marketing research found that Social Media Publishing and Email are the primary technologies that marketers are using to assist with the management of content marketing efforts, with more than 80% of them citing it as their top technology.

However, there are distinct signs that print is alive and well for forward leaning brands.

For example, AirBNBMag is the newest print publication from the travel and leisure brand.  The magazine features user-generated stories and feature articles on travel destinations all over the world. Additionally, there are companies like Lincoln Electric that are bringing a print sensibility to industries like welding with their Arc Magazine.  And Casper, the new startup mattress provider has actually gone as far as to go “print-only” for their content marketing platform Wooly Magazine.

The commonality amongst these is they are deftly integrating both digital and print into their strategy, to create a more integrated and measurable experience.

The Three Best Practices of Integrating Social and Print

So, print is wonderful, and can certainly create a differentiated experience for a brand. And social media is great for reaching today’s younger audiences. And, of course, digital (broadly speaking) is a much more measurable approach.  So how can we begin to mix these ideas so that these tactics, together, can provide a much more cohesive marketing approach.

Here are three best-practices we have seen truly work

Integrate Content And Calls To Action Across Offline and Online

One of the wonderful things that Lincoln Electric does with its Arc Magazine is to leverage digital calls to action in the print magazine, and vice versa. Within the print magazine, the brand features URL’s for deeper exploration of content, or where the reader might find extended resources for a particular article.

For example, a feature covers story might also feature links to their resources section where subject matter experts are online to answer questions asked by readers.

Additionally, the company is not just publishing a print magazine, but writes each story in a way that can be extended through digital and social channels.  As they create content, they create more “lengthy” versions of a story, or with “behind the scenes” features that can be featured for the Web, mobile, or social aspects of the content itself.

As Craig Coffee – the leader of this program for Lincoln has said– “we measure every conceivable thing related to the online and digital footprint of the magazine and draw correlations between what we see there and what we think we know about the print side. We balance a lot of qualitative and quantitative data to validate our efforts.”

  1. Use Digital & Social To Leverage Promotion and Distribution

    By its very nature, physical distribution is expensive and hard for print publications. Therefore, getting your print piece into the right hands is even more important. This is where digital and social can play an important role.

    For example, Four Seasons Magazine is a wonderful print magazine published by the global hotel chain. It has been published for years but used to only be available to guests who would pick it up in the room.

    However, the hotel saw an opportunity to use its content to bring in new guests as an awareness generator.  So, the magazine developed a digital “content brand” for the magazine, giving it its own digital web site, email newsletter and integration into the social media feed.  So, now the company is driving subscription – and distribution – to the print magazine through its digital channels.

  2. Create A Content Creation Process, Not A Channel Publishing Process

    One of the most toughest to implement business practices is to get out of the channel or format first mentality.

    We are classically taught as marketers and communicators to think channel/platform first. And then ask ourselves how will we fill that platform with content. We start with the statement “I need an email”, or “I need a blog post”, or “I need a print ad”. We then proceed to design and create content that will fill that channel or platform accordingly.

    In order to add more linear types of platforms such as print, we have to get out of that cycle.  We must start with “what’s the story” and then follow a content creation cycle that takes ALL of the channels and platforms that may be fed by this particular piece of content into account.

    This is what feeds the two best-practices examples mentioned above.  When Lincoln Electric goes to create a feature story on a celebrity, they not only interview the featured celebrity. And also capture video content of the celebrity. All of the created materials will need to fill the content across print, digital and social.  They realize that if they measure twice and cut once, that building reusable components can help them create an efficient channel strategy.

Print In The Marketing Mix

Ultimately, print provides a wonderful opportunity for brands to differentiate on experiences that many have, given up on.“Inefficient”, “too expensive”, or “dead”are some of the most common reasons for giving up on print.

None of these things have to be true if we actually integrate the key pieces of social media and/or digital channels to help us create a truly cohesive content strategy.

Audience Are Not Just Buyers – Robert Rose

Let me explain.

 As we’ve outlined, if we are ever to succeed with a content marketing strategy, we must provide for the capability to drive multiple lines of value for the business. Audiences enable this capability. Thus, the content platforms we create have one clear goal: They must build an ever-growing, addressable, trusted audience.

Yes, some members of our audience will become customers – traversing the traditional funnel, acquiring the attribute of “lead,” then “opportunity,” then “buyer.” Others will never buy from us but may provide more long-term value than a customer. They may acquire the attribute of “engaged,” helping us organically connect with four new customers that we may have never otherwise reached with paid media.  Other audiences may be “influencers” helping us amplify our reach, thus creating a more effective paid media effort. And, finally, some audiences may be “trusted,” and enable us to drive direct revenue from content – thus providing a marketing platform that pays for itself.

At the heart of this valuable audience is, of course, content. And if we are to build successful, trusted platforms, we must change the way we go about developing the personas that will subscribe to them. There is an approach that we have begun to utilise in our workshops and consulting engagements. It breaks down into five steps:

  1. Define your target – Detail the total addressable audience.
  2. Discover the “so I can” – Uncover the audience’s biggest need/want.
  3. Decide on your niche – Find your sweet spot.
  4. Differentiate your content approach – Where the sweet spot meets your desire to fill it.
  5. Design the map of success – Document the audience journey.

While each one of these steps could be its own post, let’s briefly take a look at each:

Step 1: Define your target audience and its size

When we define a target audience, it’s critical to go beyond the traditional segmentation of demographics such as age, geography, income levels, and job titles. We must make sure to open the question to a wide variety of interests and/or challenges because we’re not using interest in our product or service as the common foundation.

Of course, we’re not starting with a blank slate here either. It would be overwhelming to simply say, “Let’s look at anything that our target audience might be interested in or challenged with.”

We at least will likely focus on the general topic area of our business.

As we’ll see in Step 3, the more niche we can be with a targeted audience the better chance we are going to find a differentiated approach. But we also want to balance this by quantifying the target audience to ensure that it is ultimately a viable enough number to justify pursuing.

Just as every single marketer should know the size of their TAM (total addressable market), every content marketer should know how big their audience (total addressable audience) is in (or outside of) that TAM.

For example, a software company we worked with wanted to target small entrepreneurial law firms with its software and services. Its research revealed there are 50,000 U.S. law firms with more than two people. Further, 90% of those firms have more than one and less than ten people. That TAM for its products and services was 45,000 (each business would buy the software once). But, remember, audiences aren’t just buyers. Audience size is different. The average number of partners in the firms was three. So, from an audience perspective, the total addressable audience was 135,000.

Take the time to research, define, and quantify the target audience.

Step 2: Discover the “so I can” – uncovering the true needs and wants

Truly helping an audience doesn’t just focus on fulfilling a simple “need.” For example, the statement “I need directions” doesn’t compel me to use a particular map or resource. However, the statement “I need directions to that place so I can bring my family along and we all hate reading maps” is both social and contextual. It helps to define a very specific functional and emotional need and want. Finding the “so I can” goes beyond and starts to offer not just the answer to a question, but the broader solution to getting what the customer really wants.

As we research our target audiences, listen for those social and contextual aspects. One pattern is to listen for is when customers speak like this:

 When I am ________  I need   ________ so I can  ________.

For example, in a discussion, a potential audience member might say: When I’m working, I don’t need more marketing software, I need tools that give me freedom, so I can have peace of mind and spend more time on my business.

The “so I can” in that sentence is the big clue to the actual need and want. The strategy then is not to provide more information on tools. Rather, the focus should be on how to deliver interesting things that help entrepreneurs achieve “peace of mind and spend more time on their business.”

Of course, not everyone will express everything the same way. But we can look for the patterns and group them.

Step 3: Decide on your niche – finding the sweet spot

Once we’ve assembled both the size of your audiences and started to catalog all the “so I can’s” that we could fulfill, we can begin to explore and make decisions. Pull the levers of the size of the job vs. size of the audience. Look at how underserved these jobs are in context with how many others in our marketplace of ideas are trying to solve them.

Think of it like this: As we work on your audience personas, we may decide it’s better to solve a small, niche job for a huge audience. Or, we may choose to solve a huge job for a niche audience.

For example, let’s say our business is in retail banking.  Would we instead try and solve some specific niche part of financial education for young people? Or, would we instead identify a new niche audience (maybe young parents who are branching into home-based businesses) and solve the entirety of financial education? Neither is the wrong answer – but give yourself that flexibility.

The decision is an excellent example of what Joe Pulizzi calls “the sweet spot.” As he says, it’s “where your particular field of knowledge and your skill sets intersect with a passion point of your audience.”

Step 4: Differentiate – the sweet spot meets your expertise and desire to solve it

In the purest sense, the sweet spot is the relevance we seek to provide an audience. You have, no doubt, seen the Venn diagram that marks “what they want to hear” and “what you want to say” as the sweet spot of relevance.

Once we’ve identified the underserved audiences, cataloged all the jobs we could do, and chosen our sweet spot, we must prioritise the jobs to be done by those that we should solve with our unique and distinct point of view.

In other words, if our brand doesn’t have differentiated expertise, has no particular point of view or (by some corporate mandate) cannot develop a new, differentiated point of view on solving that “so I can” job – then perhaps it is not ours to solve.

Step 5: Design the map of success – documenting the audience journey

Once we have identified the ideal needs and wants, and the perfect audience, now we can map the high-level success statements (or whatever level deemed necessary) for each step the audience takes to solve that job. Is this journey mapping? Yes, but again, it’s not a customer journey or a buyer’s journey – it’s the audience journey for the steps they take to get that job done (or not done as the case may be).

The goal is to identify as many of the kinds of value we can provide across steps of this job to be done. One structure you might consider for each success statement is:

value action | metric | job action | contextual/social clarification

For example, going back to our small business law partner audience, a success statement might be:

Once we’ve categorised these success statements, we might then roll them up into one larger success statement that exemplifies exactly the overall success of that persona.

Ultimately, after all the research, the interviews, the brainstorming, and clarifying, we can take these steps and assemble our audience persona profile.

A great content marketing strategy places the focus on the continual growth of the audience as an asset with many, many attributes. These are people who trust us, engage with us, want to hear from us, and will – over time – exchange value with our business in many ways.

There is much more depth to explore here, and if we can help, let us know. But, hopefully, this framework can help you open up your storytelling options much broader than just solving the buying process with your content.

  Contact us  

 

What is Omnichannel Content Marketing, and does your brand need it?

Should our brands be in one or two channels, or across many?

That is certainly a question we’re all asking ourselves today!

Content marketing guru, Neil Patel calls omnichannel marketing controversial but necessary. I say it’s inevitable.

In order to reach our audience, we need to use the channels where they are most active. But what if your customers are now everywhere?

The marketing landscape today has grown at an extraordinary rate over the last few years, and so have the number of channels connecting people with other people, businesses and brands.

There are almost 200 social media sites! Let alone the long list of other digital platforms that get used every day.

The interesting thing is that people are not afraid to be across many of them if they find the content they want.

Look around you right now – have you got at least two Internet-connected devices at arm’s length? With a touch of a few buttons, you could have access to so many different pieces of content within seconds. But more importantly, you’d also be able to choose which you prefer!

Where did your mind go first? Facebook? Reddit? YouTube?

Ask yourself this

When thinking about where you would go to look next, did you take into consideration where a particular brand would be? Or did you only consider the one you preferred most?

Chances are, it was the latter.

This is the nature of the marketing environment today.

The reality that marketers need to understand is that people still only have one attention span, but so many more ways to spend it, both online and offline.

So, how do you get your content in front of them successfully? Those channel numbers keep growing!

How does this impact individuals?

Everyone has an abundance of choice right at their fingertips when it comes to how they access, interact with and consume content. This provides them with the option to select which ones they like best for each specific need at the time.

There’s a platform available to deliver content they’re looking for in a format they want.

If they’re looking for news and updates about friends and interests, chances are they’re heading to Facebook. For more corporate information, they’re probably checking LinkedIn. Need inspiration? They’re scouring Pinterest or Instagram. And for those live updates? Twitter.

Then there’s blogs and YouTube for ‘how to’ content; and should they want a more human interaction, they’ll come to your store or attend an event.

How does this impact businesses?

With choice and information comes power – and our customers now have them both in spades.

We have to appreciate that people are becoming more discerning with content and more comfortable with self-curation. Because of this, they demand content which engages them when and where they want it – on their terms.

Otherwise, it gets ignored.

If businesses want to earn a piece of our customer’s precious attention, we need to be delivering content that’s ready for them at the right place and at the right time.

This is referred to as omnichannel content marketing.

What is an omnichannel content marketing strategy?

An omnichannel approach to content is where your brand uses multiple platforms to reach your audience and provide a completely seamless customer experience across them all.

Why? Because people access many different channels but have different expectations for each one.

Being present and adapting your content to meet these expectations is what provides your target audience with a consistent, positive user experience. When you do this well, customers will start to build a relationship with your brand in ways they prefer.

Why omnichannel?

Today, people don’t see your content in the order you intend.

They see fragments here and there which they piece together. An omnichannel approach ensures that you’re giving them the whole story, even though it’s inevitably non-linear.

The advantage of an omnichannel content marketing approach is that no matter where your customer picks up their journey with your brand, they’re getting a complete picture which compels them to act.

Remember the “marketing rule of 3”? – where a customer has to see your brand three times before they pay attention? This still applies except, it’s now more like the rule of 10! But all ten must be aligned.

As people interact more with your business over multiple touchpoints (which they are very likely to do), then your omnichannel marketing is there, when they want it, however they want it.

How to master your omnichannel content strategy?

To implement an effective omnichannel approach, your business must produce content that has a consistent look and feel, messaging, goals and objectives across all of your chosen channels, whether it’s online or offline.

Each piece of content must be cohesive and complementary, and perfectly suited to each medium so that your customers can easily move between each and always know it’s your brand.

This way, they get a familiar and welcome feeling, no matter which touchpoint.

For example – if you’re launching an Easter-themed product, then you may support this with:

  • A TV or print ad promoting the products and where to buy them
  • Your website will have an Easter theme with easy navigation to more information
  • The online store has all of the products ready to buy
  • Your Instagram features photos and short videos showing people with the product
  • Your blog is detailing out how the products were made for Easter
  • Instore, you have the range displayed proudly
  • Facebook has colourful ads with the Easter theme

And so on.

Imagine what a comprehensive experience your customer is getting from a united content campaign like this!

When they come across any one of your channels, it works together like a coordinated network with all pieces ‘singing from the same hymnbook’.

Without this omnichannel marketing approach today, chances are your content may be getting missed or your brand forgotten.

For more on omnichannel marketing and brand voice click here

 

Christopher Melotti is a guest blog writer at Brandalism this week. He is a content copywriter and founder of Melotti Media Copywriting. Winner of multiple awards including CMO of the year award by the Australian Marketing Institute, Chris is extremely experienced and passionate in the art of copywriting and content marketing. To read more of this work click here 

Finding Your Brand Voice With Content Strategy

Every great brand has a unique voice that allows it to deliver a strong and cohesive message. A brand voice is one of the most basic and essential elements in a business’ success because it helps it build a solid reputation, communicate its core values, and makes it stand out from the competition.

Without a relevant brand voice that is consistent across all channels, brands lose their identity. This in turn, makes it harder for customers to trust and relate to them.

And it’s not just about picking any tone and voice, but about choosing the right one – a tone and voice that’s relatable toward your specific audience.

What is the brand voice?

Every brand has an identity and unique characteristics like any person. Through its voice, a brand speaks to its audience and conveys many aspects of its identity and personality – core values and beliefs, culture, and attitude.

Since a brand voice is a personality that permeates a brand’s words and communications, it needs to be congruent and relevant for its followers. If it’s not, messages have a hard time cutting through the noise, and it becomes next to impossible to influence the intended audience.

How to create your brand voice?

Understand your target audience and build a persona. Your marketing persona is about the traits and personality of your brand. To create it, you have to first pin down who exactly your target audience is.

To find your target audience, ask yourself questions like:

How old are they?

What do they like to do?

Why are their interests?

What are their pain points?

Once you have an idea of who your ideal customer is, you can do a little exercise to personify your brand by writing a list of adjectives that describe how it would be like if it were a real person.

Key: Your brand’s personality traits must be relatable and trustworthy to your specific audience. For example, picking the “funny” trait if your company sells board games is okay, but probably not if you sell dental services.

Where does your audience live?

If you’re not where your audience is, then you should be. Not only are those the best channels to use to communicate with your audience, but they’re also the best places to learn about who your audience is.

Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, engaging with your audience will help you to understand it on a deeper level. Their needs and wants will become second nature to you, and developing an appropriate brand voice will come much more easily.

Take a look at Redbull


Red Bull nails its brand voice by communicating intensity and adventure – just what its product promises to deliver. They promise that by consuming Red Bull, you’ll get wings – a reference to becoming a higher-performing version of yourself.

Their marketing campaigns do an excellent job of communicating their identity by using words associated with adventure, sports, and thrilling experiences.

You can almost get a taste of how the product feels by looking at their ads. It’s easy to see how they represent their audience by being funny, informal, and showing thrill-seeking activities full of adrenaline in their posts.

After all, those are the characteristics of their consumers, and implementing them in their brand voice is an excellent way to appeal to them.

They even go ahead and place video game – looking visuals at the end of their videos to appeal to their audience, which is, to a large extent, made of adrenaline seeking youngsters – who very likely to like video games.

Finding the right voice for your audience is key

Your brand voice encompasses what you say, and how you say it. Finding the right voice to use for your specific audience is an essential component of your content strategy.

Think about it, if you were to address your audience and they were, for example, 14-18-year old teens, with the tone and voice that you would use to speak to 60-year-olds, it would be hard for them to relate to your brand.

Many teenagers these days prefer to be spoken to in an informal and relaxed way, and also find it easier to trust humanised brands that sound less like companies. They also use a different vocabulary, that’s often impossible for their older counterparts to understand.

Just imagine how the use of an inappropriate voice and tone would make your efforts come to nothing?

So now that you’re aware of how much this matters, take that next step to find your brand voice and you’ll see that somebody will want to listen.

To find out more on why it is not always a good idea to jump on social trends like Game of Thrones for example click here

Customer Journey Mapping: Why it’s essential for a competitive business

Customers now-a-days go through a myriad of steps before they make their final purchase and this can all be collated into something called a Customer Journey Mapping.

Customer Journey Mapping is a visual flowchart of everything your customer experiences throughout the sales funnel. Think of it like a story that breaks down each element of a customer’s journey with your business. Sounds simple? That’s because it is, at least to get started. It can grow into a big, complex beast if you spend enough time on it, and the benefits are substantial.

Quick customer journey mapping pros

Salesforce put together a really helpful write-up to explain this type of mapping in simple terms. What you should take away from it, though, is the benefits to you directly, namely it:

  • Helps reveal where and when customers interact with your business.
  • Shows you where specific customer needs appear – which you can then apply to your digital strategy.
  • Organises the customer journey into a logical flow.
  • Reveals any gaps in your current strategy.
  • Allows you to concentrate on what’s most important for maximum effectiveness.

That’s all well and good, I hear you say. But why is it so important for you to understand the customer journey? After all, if customers want to buy something from you, they will – right?

It ensures your brand is across any potential behavioural changes

Customers come and go, but the most important ones give you repeat business. This shows that they love what you’re doing, and it probably means your digital sales funnel is smooth and easy to transact with. If you’re lucky, some of those repeat customers will turn into brand ambassadors– singing your praises on social media and bringing in new customers they’ve referred.

But it’s easy to sit back and forget about those customers – especially when you start expecting them to come back to your business time and time again. Without nurturing them, those customers can quickly drop off.

A customer journey map can reveal exactly when something changes in the sales funnel, and most importantly it can show you where any behavioural changes have occurred. Maybe there are bugs or purchasing issues with your online store. Maybe you’ve dropped off social media and people are no longer engaging with you.

When you map it out, you’ll be able to see everything loud and clear – and then you will be able to rectify any issues.

It puts you in the customer’s shoes

Sure, you’re a business owner. But you’re also a customer. You’re a customer every time you go to a store, buy something online, use a service – you’re a customer far more often than a seller.

That means you already understand how frustrating it can be to hide roadblocks in the purchasing funnel. Customer journey mapping puts you – the business owner – into the customer’s shoes and allows you to mimic every step they take.

And the results speak for themselves. Research from McKinsey shows that businesses that address key problem areas in the customer journey – whether that’s design fixes, making it easier to contact customer support, or offering discounts for new buyers – see a 50% increase in customer satisfaction and a 15% decrease in customer-service cost.

It reinforces your brand promise

There might be several reasons you started your business in the first place, but one thing that’s remained constant throughout has been your brand promise. It’s what sets you apart from the competition and helps you stay on course whenever things get challenging.

In order to retain your place in the market and continue delivering what your customers expect, you need to always keep your brand promise in mind. When walking through your customer journey map, ask yourself whether or not you are always delivering on the brand promise.

It reveals missed opportunities

Finally, customer journey mapping not only reveals potential business opportunities, but it reveals the ones you’ve missed. This ensures you never miss out on them again.

A couple of common missed opportunities include:

  • Failing to up sell or cross-sell: Is your sales funnel doing enough to keep your customers interested so they shop around for other products or services? Is your customer service team asking the right questions so they can solve customers’ problems with business solutions?
  • Not offering enough to on-the-fence customers: Maybe that customer would not have abandoned their cart if they’d received an automatic pop-up for an additional discount or bonus.
  • Forgetting about the customer as soon as a sale is complete: Just because you’ve won a sale, that does not mean the transaction is complete. Turn a valued customer into repeat business (or maybe even a brand ambassador) by going the extra mile, whether that’s offering free shipping on their next purchase, helping them set up their product, or anything else that might give them that ‘aha’ moment.

Putting together the customer journey map for your digital strategy is the easy part. The real challenge arrives when you spot all the holes you now have to plug. But once you finally get your customer experience up to the level you deserve, you’ll start seeing benefits.

Why being on-trend isn’t always best practice for your brand

In a complex and overcrowded market, you are bombarded by trend watchers, blogs and social media posts all telling you how you should be jumping on the latest ‘trend’. The real challenge however, is for emerging businesses to locate their true brand identity.

The problem with always following social media trends is that it will only lead you one place: behind the leaders which is not best practise for your brand in the long run. In order to relinquish your role as a ‘follower’ and instead capture your audience through your unique brand identity, you need to absorb the words of brand-building expert Denise Lee Yohn:

“If you want to build a great brand, stop following trends.”

Building your own brand is worth the effort

 It’s easier said than done – after all, if every business owner knew how to brand themselves as a leader, the market would look very different. But it’s worth the blood, sweat and tears it takes to forge your own path and cast off the shackles of the ‘trend-follower’.

Common mistake #1:Trend following is easy. It’s fast, it’s simple and for many people it’s effective – at least for the ones who get in before it’s no longer on-trend. But as Yohn writes in Forbes, it “usually causes a brand to stray from its own identity”.

Common mistake #2:Forgetting innovation. No matter what the industry, businesses need to continuously innovate in order to stay ahead of the pack. When you simply follow trends and jump on every new bandwagon that appears, sure you might gain a bit of attention and earn some short-term revenue – but you’ll lose the ambition to go further, do more and try new things, which are essential to crafting your true brand identity.

Forgo short-term on-trend wins for long-term market presence

These mistakes are easy to make, but you can overcome them by recognising the need to stay the course. The real problem arises when you get into a cycle of following trends.

Over the course of several weeks, months and even years of attaching yourself to trends, you’ll start to lose the sense of your own brand identity. And if you’re not careful, that can lead to your business no longer having a unique selling point, and therefore losing its competitive element in the market.

As a write-up in TwoGather succinctly puts it: “Trends are mere tools, but not the key to success.” Rely too much on the short-term benefits of trend following – instead of crafting a strategy for long-term success built on your own unique offering – and the repercussions could be dire, potentially resulting in the demise of your business.

You can still leverage current trends – in moderation

 But it’s not all doom and gloom. You can still follow trends – and even use them to your advantage – without stripping your brand of its identity. The trick is to adopt them in moderation, and to be conscious not to stray too far from what makes you you.

There’s a reason people follow brands. Some are current customers, others have friends who are major fans of the brand. But in a study conducted by getSatisfaction, two reasons stand out above all others:

  • People follow brands because of special offers or deals:5% on Twitter; 36.9% on Facebook.
  • People follow brands because of interesting or entertaining content:7% on Twitter; 18.2% on Facebook.

These two factors make up a massive share of the reason behind people following brands, and central to both are current social media trends. So, there’s definitely a time and a place to leverage them. The key is finding that perfect moment, and not doing it so often that you lose your identity in the process.

The power of the egg

 No doubt everyone is familiar with the mass hysteria around Instagram’s @world_record_egg. Smashing the record for most-liked online post on any social media platform in history, the meme blew up in a matter of days.

In the world of social media, savvy businesses understand that trends fizzle as quickly as they explode, which is how IKEA Saudi Arabia managed to leverage the Instagram egg trend to market its two-pack egg holder set. Not overly salesy – just a fun play on the remarkable rise of the egg with a nod to the ‘fun’ factor.

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by IKEA Saudi – ايكيا السعودية 🇸🇦 (@ikeasaudiarabia) on

Note how the page hasn’t touched the Instagram egg subject since? They got in and out without driving the fun into the ground.

Top tips for developing your brand identity

Ready for some hard-and-fast tips to embracing your true brand identity?

    • Start at the beginning: From the outset, you should have a clear vision for your business and what sets it apart. Build your brand around that vision rather than trying to pick and choose your ‘identity’ from fleeting trends.
    • Find your voice: Your customers want to engage with a human, so integrate personality into your offering – whether that’s your product or service, or how you communicate with people online.
    • Listen:Feedback is the best indicator of whether or not you’re on the right track. Use it to guide you along your growth path.
    • The best brands are consistent: Leaders understand not everything they do will be perfect, nor will it resonate with everyone at all times. But what’s most compelling about the top brands is how they are consistent no matter what. They commit to the brand they’ve worked so hard to build – but they also understand it’s okay to rebrand. In all things business related, you should gain an understanding of the market before setting yourself on a specific path. Yes, it’s okay to jump on trends, it’s okay to forge your own path and, it’s okay to change directions if what you’re doing isn’t working. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to domination – you need to discover your identity for yourself.

Looking for assistance on all things content marketing?

 Contact us 

 

Tell Your Brand Story: Aligning Your Online and Offline Communications

What’s your brand story and why does it matter?

Storytelling is key to connecting with consumers in both online and offline communications. But in order to make sure they’re as effective as possible, these communication efforts need to be aligned.

Every brand has a story to tell. How and why the brand was created, the establishment process, or the obstacles that have been overcome. A brand’s story aims to draw people in and allow them to identify with the brand, its values and its purpose.

It’s a bit like making a new friend – it’s hard to connect with someone without knowing some of their story or their values. And you’re unlikely to trust them if what they say and what they do aren’t one-in-the-same.

Aligning your brand’s online and offline communications is vital to maintaining a long-term relationship and gaining customer loyalty, so how can we do it?

Here are a few tips:

  • Define your brand’s message and apply it consistently to both online and offline campaigns
  • Get feedback: find out what people think your business does to get an idea of whether you’re successfully conveying your brand’s story and values
  • Ensure your brand guideline/framework is clear
  • Share what inspired the brand (part of the brand story)
  • Be transparent

According to 65% of marketing executives, they believe multimedia elements like photos, illustrations, and infographics are key to communicating a brand’s story.

The building blocks of a great brand story

LEGO is a company that tells a powerful story and ticks all of the boxes just mentioned. LEGO is particularly skilled in sharing their story through illustrations and animations. 

LEGO’s brand’s framework is easily accessible on their website’s ‘About us’ section, outlining its mission, aspiration, promises, spirit, and values:

The LEGO Brand Framework

But LEGO doesn’t just say what its values are, it shows them in their online and offline communications.

Below are some of LEGO’s advertisements from 2006, encouraging customers to use their imagination and creativity when playing with the toys in such a simple yet effective message:

Source: Buzzfeed

What better way to depict ‘imagination’ and encourage children to have fun with their LEGO sets?

It’s not only succeeding in offline play – the toy giant is also smashing it in the digital world. The LEGO Movie is a prime example of this and was a huge hit,  with profits driven up by 16 percent!

LEGO’s YouTube channel is also a huge success. With over 6 million subscribers, showcasing their values through a range of videos – from multiple miniseries and mini movies based on different famous TV characters, to how-to videos, and short films inspired by fan creations just to name a few. By matching their digital entertainment, they are complementing the themes that inspire the physical LEGO sets. It’s the perfect combination for all big fans!

In 2012, LEGO published a 17-minute animation to their YouTube channel. ‘The LEGO Story’ is surprisingly captivating, detailing how the company was created and its journey to now. It showcases the emphasis LEGO’s founders placed on the quality of the toys. It then shares the many obstacles overcome in company’s early years, outlining the company’s values.

After the first minute of the video, you may think: ‘I’m not watching another 16 minutes of animation about LEGO’. Seventeen minutes later, you will find yourself telling your friends everything you know about LEGO.

The brand’s online presence is diverse and easily accessible, particularly Twitter and YouTube, with multiple accounts to cater for LEGO-lovers’ specific interests.  One of the accounts is LEGO Ideas, which is the perfect way for users to share their offline experiences with other users online, essentially marketing the capabilities of LEGO sets for the brand.


Looking at this example, it’s clear that a big marketing budget isn’t always necessary. By aligning your online and offline communications and ensuring brand values are shared consistently across all platforms – loyalty, trust, and respect between a brand and its consumers will grow!

All publicity is good publicity: The case of the negative review

Is it crazy to think a negative review can help you hit the advertising jackpot? Nope! Many brands have actually started creating campaigns and advertisements by shining the spotlight on their negative reviews.

A chip on your shoulder

KFC used bad reviews to their advantage pretty well earlier this year after someone tweeted that the entire world doesn’t like KFC fries.

Other Twitter users jumped on board too, one asking ‘how can KFC be so good at chicken and so bad at fries?’.

KFC’s response to the Tweets was perfect.


They built the ‘Ain’t No Small Fry’ campaign around all the negative feedback they’d received about their fries.

Instead of ignoring the growing pile of negative comments about their disappointing side, KFC were able to understand and action the complaints. This ensured that customers remained satisfied in future.

Saying ‘ski’ you later to the haters

A US ski resort also created a campaign around negative reviews – but instead of conforming to the reviewer’s desire, they pointed out why their problem is actually their best selling point.

The Snowbird resort in Utah is known for its difficult trails. A review from a disappointed customer read: “I’ve heard Snowbird is a tough mountain, but this is ridiculous. It felt like every trail was a steep chute or littered with tree wells. How is anyone supposed to ride in that? Not fun!”

Snowbird replied in an advertisement with a picturesque view of the mountain, saying “Greg thought we were “Too Advanced”, for our core guest it’s why they come back year after year.”

This shows that while one person might feel a particular way about a product or service, that same reason could be why others continue coming back for more. Not to mention how suspicious it looks when something only has 5-star reviews.

A bar above the rest

One Denver bar even cashed in on their negative reviews. Hi-Dive owned the comment loud and proud by slapping it on a T-shirt for all their customers to see with intrigue.

Negative review t-shirt

The staff described the review as concise and humorous, with their natural response being to literally wear it. It even turned into advertising people paid for – with more than 450 tees sold!

While business owners might live in fear of a bad review, these few examples show that it’s not always so bad!

Negative reviews have the potential to promote change and growth in your business, and can test how you handle the issue. It also gives you a chance to humanise your brand and show that we’re all just everyday people – not just faceless companies and corporations. Whether it’s a misunderstanding, or difference in perspective –  by using the negative review as an advantage, companies have the opportunity to win over audiences.

 

The rise of voice search and what it means for your business

When mobiles were introduced, we were amazed to have the world at our fingertips. We could pick up our phones and communicate with people instantly, search online for the answer to any questions, or add last-minute things to our grocery list.

Now, thanks to voice search, we don’t even have to lift a finger.

Hey Siri, can you tell us about voice search?

Voice search is technology that allows users to conduct a search or request an action by voice command.

Skipping a song while you’re driving is as simple as saying ‘Hey Siri, next song please.’ You don’t even have to hold down the Home button anymore, literally just say ‘Hey Siri’ and she’s ready to respond.

Siri’s just one example familiar to iPhone users, but other voice command technology includes Cortana on Windows, Samsung’s Bixby, Google Home, and Amazon’s Alexa.

There’s a lot more voice search can help with – ordering takeaway, online shopping, or even finding out how hot it is outside (because dressing for Australia’s weather is so hard to get right these days.)

A voice on the rise

A recent survey of more than 1800 smartphone users across the world revealed that 62% of participants engaged with voice-activated technology in the past six months, with 57% of Australians using voice search.

Of those who have used the technology, 95% intend to keep using it in the next year.

With lots of celebrities endorsing the technology, it’s no surprise it’s becoming more popular. The six-minute Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson ad for Siri was one thing, and then Amazon came out with an ad for Alexa, featuring the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Cardi B, Rebel Wilson among other popular celebrities.

Alexa loses her voice

Dwayne Johnson x Siri

How can voice search be utilised for marketing?

When it comes to the queries and questions we ask our voice search companions, results are powered by search engines.

Search language

Voice search will give you a single answer or option in response to your query. There’s no more scrolling through the webpage results to find the most relevant one; you get what the technology churns out.

To beat this, create more conversational content, because the way we ask questions while speaking is conversational, while we usually focus on keywords for a typed query. For example, we might ask Siri ‘What’s the weather like in Sydney today?’ but if we were to type, we’d probably just search ‘Sydney weather’.

So with voice search, rather than focusing on keywords, it’s best to focus on long-tail keyword phrases.

Create specific content for the common keywords or phrases your audience would search for – a keyword search tool like CognitiveSEO can help you find keyword phrases that are high-volume and likely to land your content in the top results.

Adding an FAQ section to your website could also increase chances of landing in the top results, as it’s likely the user could search the exact question (or one very similar).

Local SEO

Did you know voice-searches are also likely to be 3 times more likely to be based on something local? Maybe it’s about a restaurant, or a service station. To give your business the upper hand in local search, make sure your business has a Google My Business page. Secondly, reviews can help get your business noticed. Third-party apps and local directories with reviews can also help – the more reviews your business gets and the better the reviews are will likely boost it to the top of the search engine results.

While voice search is still something to get used to, it represents new opportunity and growing importance for marketers to adapt to future technologies. 

Want to stay ahead of the trends?

Get our really useful (non-annoying) emails