Authors Posts by Mark

Mark

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Author of The Content Revolution. My focus is to encourage businesses to adopt an owned media mindset to build leads, visitors and sales. Companies can now have total control of the spaces that they have ownership of. It's time to make a stand and create content that makes a deeper connection with your audience.

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Why Content Marketing Isn't For You

You can’t try and undo poor choices, with one good choice. Sometimes it’s better doing nothing, rather than being grounded in constant mediocrity.

I am writing this article as the You Are The Media Strategy is on the horizon (27th April) and putting together the whole day agenda. A quandary I am looking to get to the bottom of is why people treat a content marketing/owned media approach as just an alternative form of marketing? To many businesses, it becomes a short-lived tactic (to draw attention to a product/service), rather than the strategic pulse for a business (to build an audience that has lifetime value).

Basically, if this is an approach I believe in, get enthused by and see it working from others, then why do companies see it as a siloed exercise that they think that still sits in the advertising pigeon hole or the branding in-tray?

 

The Mother Of All Examples

Probably the best example of this is an experience from January 2015 that I documented. During a meeting with a company on whether they should invest in social media, everything came down to one simple question I will never forget, “Can Twitter generate us a further £150k extra income?” Yes, this was an actual question and you can read the article here. The whole focus from this three year ago entry is the persistence of businesses with a myopic product centred vision that uses social media purely as a channel to just sell.

Even last month I highlighted those companies where a content marketing approach would not work based on moulding everything together into three pillars, ‘care,’ ‘rhythm’ and ‘knowledge.’ Click here to read that article.

However, I haven’t been able to put my finger on exactly why it won’t work for companies, until the past week.

I have been receiving emails from companies who would like to participate in the You Are The Media Lunch Club. The whole format is lunchtime sessions that highlight businesses that are taking advantage of the changes in distribution by bypassing traditional media to build an audience they own. The emails I have been receiving are either those who are using it as a PR move for their own gain, have no defined voice/viewpoint within their marketplace, or just creating content because they feel they have to.

This is where there becomes the dissection between what should be a business strategy but rather an additional marketing strategy. The ability to create and distribute, can just become an empty gesture, that doesn’t contribute to anything.

 

One Healthy Choice Amongst A Barrage Of Junk Doesn’t Count For Anything

When content marketing is looked upon as marketing collateral production, it is the equivalent of having a burger and chips. When asked ‘what drink?’ the reply is ‘Diet Coke.’ Just because you have made a string of unhealthy decisions, doesn’t mean that one vaguely ok choice is going to make everything ok.

Taking things further, many businesses still treat a content marketing/owned media approach as a listless exercise. It is the equivalent of going on a gluten free diet during the week and then when the weekend comes it is ‘wheat-ahoy.’ Saturday lunch is at Subway, the three pints during the evening are followed by Cornflakes for breakfast and a visit to Pizza Express in the afternoon.

If I had to explain this in a two minute video, it would be the Butterfield Diet Plan (you try your best and then revert to what you’ve always done).

It works like this:

1) You start disciplined.

2) You then roll back to the world of treats. In business terms, it becomes easier to bang the drum with something to sell, rather than something to say.

You Can’t Lapse Back Into Bad Habits

Businesses have to stop looking at content marketing as an approach that takes them back to exactly how they used to behave (product based messages). This was where marketing was seen as borrowing eyeballs from an array of spaces to drive interest in a product.

You cannot attempt a new approach that lapses back into hold habits. This all comes from looking at everything a different way, but where the content you create (from text to audio) becomes an immediate function of the business to build an audience and not as an afterthought, where the focus is a self sense of grandeur. It is the audience that provides ROI, not the chasing of eyeballs from a Google Analytics check-in.

 

Creating & Nurturing A Media Property

Businesses have to start thinking about the role they play within their marketplace and create a media property off the back of it, with the intention to build audience and ultimately a stronger customer base. A few blog articles won’t achieve anything. Blogging isn’t the income generator, business is. It is the ability to create a business goal that links back to your reason for being, where consistency is grounded.

The focus for businesses is still very much on product, not the audience.

The Content Marketing Institute have this month (April), released their B2B Enterprise Content Marketing report. This relates to companies with 1,000+ employees (and over 2,500 companies were surveyed).

Two of the areas of note, from the report, come back to this whole notion of starting something but slipping back into old habits. 45% of enterprise marketers do not have an idea what a successful marketing programme looks like. 38% have a documented marketing strategy to understand a new path to follow.

Why Content Marketing Isn't For You

By not having any direction, has a knock on effect. The stagnant success is related to a lack of strategy (65%) and success is predominantly recognised as collecting page visits from strangers (83%) as opposed to building an audience (a mere 37%).

Why Content Marketing Isn't For You

Whilst this report relates to larger enterprises, it highlights an overall picture for content marketing today. The lack of direction for businesses where there is the magnet that draws them to sharing the core brand message, whilst fighting against delivering a consistent message to an audience who want to consume and interact.

 

Are You In Or Out?

It comes back to the diet. You are either all in, or you are never going to see any noticeable results. It’s a bit like me at the moment, where I go to the gym and when back home look at a shelf of Easter Eggs and ‘I’ll just have the one stick from the Twirl.’ If I keep on like this, I am not going to see any health benefits.

To advance a practice, you can’t just dip your toe in whenever you feel like. Pressing the ‘publish’ button has the same effect as finishing a spinning class. You feel like you have achieved something, but it becomes forgotten about as soon as it’s over. The only way you start to see results is when you are consistent.

Being mediocre will hurt you more than doing nothing. If that is the bottom of the barrel, so where is the hope?

To become tuned in, takes in a whole disciplined effort, but to start seeing change is when you:


  • recognise the role you play within your marketplace and what you stand for
  • understand the audience you are targeting and lean into them
  • cut back on the plethora of messages and find one key message to target
  • find a story that is different from the competition that others can relate to
  • become consistent over a prolonged period of time
  • create value that goes outside of the products and services you promote and sell

Lets Round Up

Empty gestures stand out like a Pepsi can handed as a peace gesture to the establishment. For businesses to achieve longevity within their marketplace they need to recognise the value creation from content and not as a two month, ‘lets give it a go’ approach.

When you start to shift the focus from the product that you sell, to the audience that you can grow and associate with, this is where the owned media approach comes into fruition.

You cannot treat an owned media approach as separate entity from your business strategy. When it sits at the core of what you do and how you communicate, there is an all round sense of brand health that goes beyond two weeks on the treadmill after you have demolished the Easter Eggs and feel bloated.

For something to work, the biggest injustice you can do is think that one good choice (the focus on an audience) amongst a circus of poor decisions (repeated product messages), is going to result in a prize.

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connection

To stand any chance of someone buying into you, there has to be a connection to the very heart of what you believe in.

This advert has its origins in the Pepsi advert. I apologise, it has become the easiest marketing bandwagon to jump on in 2017. However, there is something central to the core that relates back to us all.

I know there are many articles on why it nosedived and the ‘lessons learnt from the Pepsi ad’ angle, but on reflection, it all comes back to having a product and approach that is believable for someone else to connect with.

Whilst Coca Cola created harmony in 1971 with their, “I’d like to buy the world a Coke,’ it was the flipside of kinship in 2017. Whilst one was from a clifftop of faces of different colours, shapes and ethnicities, the other was from a city of unrest where a can acts as a protest peace offering. A privileged reality TV star became the beacon for a generation in which the resistance was strong, but from a brand who has never stood for rebellion.

connection

With the advert lifted and wiped off the face of YouTube, it comes back to a simple premise of being real and making a connection with your audience.

What makes things strange is that Pepsi introduced their new content creation studio in 2016 where PepsiCo president Brad Jakeman stated that their aim was to, ‘foster deeper connections with consumers.” Their latest effort couldn’t be further from the truth.

When you get found out for being false and going way off the mark for who you are, you are castigated.

This also happened in February when Waterstones were criticised for opening three high street shops that had the appearance of small independent bookstores that had no branding or link to the shops origins. If Waterstones had been upfront then the damage could have been a lot less. Again, if you try to pass yourself off as something that you are not, your whole business looks dishonest.

Both Waterstones and Pepsi represent companies whose stories just didn’t connect, so people turned their backs.

To enable others to want to buy from you, you have to connect in a way that is believable.

Take for instance, the activity from Red Bull. Everything they do is by associating themselves with fearless people, teams and events. The owned media approach is seen from taking control of sports teams ie. New York Red Bulls, RB Leipzig (in the German Bundasliga); owning a TV channel, annual soapbox race and events that they can call their own. The connection to Red Bull is one thrill seeking, entertaining 100 mile an hour, rollercoaster ride of adrenalin. Everything connects (something that Pepsi haven’t done).

How can you become part of someone else’s life that goes beyond the products you sell?

One of the problems that we all face is how we use social to self promote and use as an advertising channel rather than a place of actually being social with each other on a deeper level. IPG Megabrands-owned agency UM, released their ninth ‘Wave’ global social tracking survey in February. The survey was conducted amongst 52,000 people in 78 countries.

When compared to seven years ago, people are now 40% less likely to see social networks as a place for fun and entertainment. People are also 30% more likely to see them as spaces to promote themselves. There is so much content, that we are now editing to be heard and acknowledged. Sleeves rolled up, this is serious business, balls to connection, lets promote!

Almost 50% agreed with the statement, ‘I feel overwhelmed by the volume of things available to me online.’ Whether we represent brands or individuals online, there is acknowledgment that we are in the equivalent of the swimming pool with a wave machine and someone has just pressed the ‘on’ button so everyone swims to the red boundary so they get the full force of the wave.

The magnet is forcing people to feel the benefit with everyone else in exactly the same space, rather than looking to control the waves in a more natural way.

The reward is there for companies who can be on the same wavelength with others, as opposed to competing at the same swimming gala.

Looking at the mistakes from the big brands, it can help us make sense of how we build a rapport and an audience who are willing to stick with us, and they know exactly what it is that we stand for.

Whilst marketing goals are driven by numbers and showing an increase of X against Y, lets make things even easier. From the #epicfails shown by others, the biggest goal for a business today in an attention saturated world is centred on something far simpler. Find an audience where you are recognised as interesting, compelling where connectivity becomes the glue that ensures people don’t drift away.

There are an abundance of paths and channels to reach your audience and to recognise what they want and your responsibility to provide and deliver. When you can deliver, other people will help share your message. This all comes back to being real, rather than the quickest route to being ignored.

You have to live what you believe in and become comfortable with it.

This is what AirBnB did in November 2016 by introducing their community guidelines. It was a way to connect a shared ethos as well as a declaration of zero tolerance. It is also a way for a company to unify others behind a belief where a sense of belonging is created. This is seen on the AirBnB blog where the whole approach is based on sharing and encouraging to discover and utilise a space for other people to participate within.


Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What are the reasons for people to want to get to know you and your business a bit better? What is the one word that you stand for, click here to read more on finding this and uncovering the power of a direct relationship.

 

  • Can persistence be something that you can attach to and over time people will share your message?

 

  • Can you continually build, that no matter what offer or new extension to a Facebook, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn service you have people who will stick on your side as you have built a bank of goodwill and truth?

 

  • How can trust be built over time? Is it by longevity? Is it just by showing up? Is it giving your own stamp on things? No one ever built trust by taking a, ‘it’s all about me’ approach.

 

  • How can you earn connectivity with others? No one linked on an emotional level by thinking they can produce that one heavy paid for Facebook ad and watch people form an orderly queue. There has to be ways to get behind that ad and bring a real person to the front.

 

  • Are there ways you can take things on one to one, more emotional level? While you think you need to appeal to many with the click of a ‘send’ on Mailchimp, there are times to speak to one.

 

  • Can you create for some and not for everyone? When you focus on those where you have the ability to connect, it provides greater reason for them to share your story.

Having something to connect with, is about being real, not pushing a product to others via the beautiful people. People don’t want something that is impersonal, they want to know that the money they spend with you has a sense of purpose to it.

The ways that we stand out is to find those bonds that connect us to others. Whether that is to entertain, be on a level with someone else or come from a place of authority, the time that someone spends with you, has to leave them saying, ‘I get it.’

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Copy of Copy of Why not trusting is a good trait to have (6)

When someone else is drawn to you, it comes from a place of personalisation and being grounded in what you believe in and the enthusiasm that sits alongside.

Lets look at making connections more relevant by tuning into what your audience are intrigued about and your point of interest/belief.

Drawing people to you beyond what you create is a missing ingredient when it comes to encouraging a content marketing approach. Whilst you can look to pull the wool over someone’s eyes with click baity headlines, unconvincing company videos and ‘18 ways to’ dullness, it’s not going to be sustainable in the long wrong.

You may even have your customer personas nailed to a tee and there personalities are so precise you feel like you’ve found an extra Crème Egg at the back of the fridge. However, this is not enough if your audience are not drawn to you.

 

Right Time, With The Right People

To get people to come to your barbecue, what you create comes from a place of wanting to spend time with the right people and they want to spend the time back. People don’t buy from bold headlines or intense persona mapping; they buy from people they can rely on where the content is delivered with them in mind.

The You Are The Media Lunch Club has been highlighting since last summer, businesses that are managing to build their audience with a consistent content driven approach. What I am seeing are companies that understand who their audience is and the role they serve and then lean into it.

During the lunchtime session (last week) with Ali Carmichael from ExperienceUX, one thing that stood out for me was the belief that everything the business does is founded on the principals of UX.

They do not want to be led astray to become a fully blown agency ie. seeing a project all the way through and effectively becoming a design and web build entity where they are swimming with a myriad of other companies. By having a defined personality, people know they are flying for the flag for UX in the south and they do it from a place of sharing. They haven’t gone back on the values that have been in place for 10 years.

 

No Meaning, Just Noise

Havas Groups, Meaningful Brands study (2017) that consists of 300,000 people from 33 countries worldwide shone the light on the fact that 60% of people believe that the majority of content created by companies is just noise and has no meaning to them. As the study highlights, content created is, ‘poor, irrelevant or fails to deliver.’

In the 2015 Meaningful Brands report and amongst 19,000 British consumers, 94% responded that they wouldn’t care if a brand completely disappeared. If you are not relevant, why should others care?

This is the challenge, whilst you maybe able to identify who your audience is and have the ability to deliver content through the medium of your choice, you still have to be engaging for them to actually be bothered. You need to become the magnet that draws people in, not just by what you say, but how you do it.

This is what I am seeing with getting to know the companies who participate in the Lunch Clubs, no one has pretended to be something they are not. The businesses we talk to are personalising their area of confidence to an audience who warm to them.

Lets look at it this way, no one wants an invitation to their neighbours barbecue, when the food is perfect, the cheese for the burgers are more than Dairylea slices and the tubs of coleslaw are as deep as bargain buckets. It is tough when all your neighbour wants to do is tell you about how long it took to prepare the barbeque, their Spotify playlist and the new extension that is happening next year.

The point I am trying to make is that you can’t go heavy on substance (and reasons why people should warm to you) when it has no interest to someone else.

 

When A Connection Is Made

What people want is acknowledgment that they are ‘one of us’ and what is created addresses the frustrations, pain points and hopes for someone else.

This is about real people, making real connections with others. Lets highlight three quick examples.


Untitled design (55)This is what Tarryn Poulton has done with PCOS Diet Support. The entire programme is formed from her story linked to diet and health that led to her having two children. The people who watch her videos and read her articles, know that they are reading from someone who has created content for them.


Untitled design (56)This is what Michael Grubb does when he addresses his audience. His company is a lighting design consultancy, Michael Grubb Studio and their message comes from a place of sharing how we use space and also how wasteful companies are when it comes to lighting. This enabled the company to stand for a cause by setting up the Re:lit Project to take lighting that would have been used for landfill but for an extended life. It is the frustrations and hopes that makes things personal and for their audience to make that connection.


Untitled design (57)This is what Ben Crowe from Crimson Guitars does when he addresses his audience with his tutorials on how to build guitars. Every video is from his workshop in the heart of Dorset and has an air of authenticity about them. It is from a person who has dedicated years to a craft and now has the confidence to demonstrate his realness within digital channels.


These examples highlight people who represent an engaging side to their business. They become the magnet that draws people in as they are talking and sharing from a place of conviction and belief. In the words of Seth Godin, “Being a leader gives charisma. If you look and study the leaders who have succeeded, that’s where charisma comes from, from the leading.”

You shouldn’t feel obliged to make a comment on social media just because there is a hashtag that is trending (hello #Pepsi and their awful self indulgent protest ad this week). This carries no substance to a cause and what you believe in. How are people going to connect when you become detached looking for a quick win of accreditation from a stranger?

 

Being Personable

Being personalised also means being personable. The examples that I have highlighted all come from a place of tuning into a discipline and there is a receptive audience. This means you have to sound with soul and meaning. Find that cause to challenge and have an opinion that sits beside it.

People are fed up with irrelevant content. According to customer identity software provider, Janrain, and their Online Personal Experience Study 74% of respondents (over 2,000 people) get fed up with websites that provide content that has no relevance to their interests. On the other side, people are ready to trust. 57% were ok with providing personal information as long as it is for their benefit.

This is where the opportunity lies. If you can become relevant and personalised you stand a greater chance of winning the battle over short-term dependence on acceptance.

How do you want to make people feel?

 

Ways To Draw People In, Without Being Creepy

Here are some pointers to thin about.

  • When you send an email newsletter send it from a person and not a cold info@ or enquiries@

 

  • Segmenting your audience makes things a bit more tuned in. For instance, it would be a waste of time sending an email that is targeted for a local event to those people who subscribe to the You Are The Media email who live overseas. This means messages are more narrowly targeted.

 

  • When someone responds and addresses you, reply back. From the comment on a LinkedIn post, to a reply to an email, if it is from a place of genuine interaction, rather than a cul de sac of, ‘great post,’ the gate is open to interact.

 

  • Show an interest in others and the world around you. If that means showing up in their spaces where you have the ability to draw in audience from someone else’s circle that may not be familiar with you, then the opportunity is there.

 

  • Every place you are visible, talk like a person, not a flat press release that no one is going to read and instantly forget about. If a person is reading it, why talk to them in a patronising way?

 

Lets Round Up

When you have a persona that is unconvincing, you come across as fake. If there are no breadcrumbs to at least piece together to understand your approach and belief system it comes across as gold digging for personal gain.

When people become hooked on to your side and from the people I try and get to know a little better and how they do it, I see one thing stand out. These are businesses that are sticking to their guns that know their audience, and can express themselves in a captivating and sincere way.

In a world that is encouraging you to delve further into AI and automation, to stand out is for you to be yourself, be difficult for computers to do what you are good at and turn it up another notch.

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consistency of message

You have to look beyond being told to ‘be just great.’ The ability to build audience is about sticking with doing something that not everyone else is doing within your marketplace.

However, it is not just about being consistent with creating content, but consistency with an approach.

The two-sided LP of consistency of message and approach is the focus for this article.

 

Right Content At The Right Time

When you have the ability to communicate the right content to the right person at the right moment and comes back to what you believe in, it sets the precedent. This is in a place of far greater depth than being told of a ‘system that can differentiate you from your competitors to make your business more profitable, in less time, with less effort’ (this was a sentence from a seminar I saw being promoted this week).

Finding shorter routes that lead to growth, could have been true fifteen years ago, when the ability to create, publish and broadcast was reserved to a few media channels. Now everybody has a chance. This means everybody has the opportunity. You just can’t cut corners anymore. You have to tune into being consistent with a message that is relevant to someone else. If you can do this, you have the ability to generate a commitment from others.

 

The Responsibility

This is Ben Crowe (1)

I met up with Ali Carmichael, co-founder of Experience UX last week. Ali is the guest for the March You Are The Media Lunch Club (Thursday 30th March). Experience UX provide value outside of what they invoice. They have a quarterly event (and 2017 dates are already booked) and they have their UX Insider online interview series.

From offline to online, consistency is helping Experience UX build their audience and become recognised as the UX resource within the region.

What was interesting was how Ali described what is now happening to the business. Ali highlighted, “We have a responsibility for others and a need to deliver. What we want to be is a place for others to take from and realise that they are not the only ones trying to make sense of how the UX discipline is shaping. We are finding out too.”

What Ali highlighted here is being consistent with an approach, not just content creation.

Being consistent with delivery advocates an authentic and credible persona both online and offline. In Ali’s words, when you have a ‘responsibility for others’ highlights the ability to be in control and lay the foundations and not for others to run amok with the gate open. Something that Google have recently faced with their current ad debacle. Over the past week, brands such as Pepsi, The British Government and Johnson & Johnson have pulled out of advertising on YouTube. This is because banners appear over videos posted by extremist groups. Whilst Google have apologised, it highlights a prime example of a brand with a transparency problem, plus unease of advertisers fuelling the fake news fire. It also further highlights the lack of trust between consumers and business as highlighted by the Edelman Trust Barometer survey from February.

 

Consistency of Approach

When you provide someone something they actually want, it allows a relationship to form.

I highlighted in my last article the importance of tailoring your message to your audience. The message you deliver has to be curated for the medium you are using and the person who is active within it. This is all about creating with someone else in mind, rather than creating what you want him or her to see/hear/read.

It is about connecting with someone during the day in a way that is different from how the rest of the world operates. For instance, I was walking through the middle of Bournemouth last week and was approached by people from Virgin, three charities, to PureGym all looking to take away time. It becomes noise that you switch off from, with others pushing products.

That is the same for many businesses who put their own agenda first and look to sell from it. To everyone else, it just becomes background noise. This is why their needs to be consistency of approach, where someone else sees something worthy of spending some time with and there is a value exchange.

Everything has to tie back to an approach that is consistent in every place that you reside and the person who is spending some time.

Whilst you will never have the budgets the likes of Amazon have, it is the approach to present information in the way that you want it, rather than the one size fits all approach. From ‘more items to consider,’ to reading reviews of what you are considering to buy, the whole approach is consistent with who you are and what you want.

How to showcase your consistency of approach when you don’t have Amazon sized budgets:

  • Engaging in conversation on social channels, rather than leaving every opportunity left with a closed door
  • creating a two-way response from something that is sent to others ie. newsletter and then taking it one to one when some replies back
  • Instead of chasing everything, you work with others who reflect your principals. They are consistent with what you believe in
  • Everything you share and say ties back to your centre of gravity ie. your website, that cements your approach
  • You create for other people in mind, not just search engines or likes
  • Stick by something that you believe in, that isn’t necessarily covered by others within your marketplace

 

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What do I believe in that is sustainable and not a two month ride that blows out of steam before the summer
  • Who can come along for the journey (the audience)
  • Where do they prefer to hang out ie. social, email, website, video, audio
  • Is there a space that isn’t served that I can explore within
  • Can this motivate my audience to participate with me
  • Can I see my message transporting not just online, but offline?

 

Consistency of Message

From the consistency of an approach (centred on a belief) comes the consistency of a message.

tailoring your message to your audienceLast week I highlighted reading the Jack Daniels advert on a tube station platform. It was a short story, not just an advert and this is one thing that the brand has been consistent with for decades.

Lynchburg, Tennessee does exist! Every message that I have read or seen always comes back to a narrative about how Jack Daniels is made, the process that goes into it and the people who make it. It is this consistent story that consumers tune into as a believable brand.

A consistent message is something that doesn’t detract. For instance, have a look at my early blog articles here. From generic business articles, the message is now concentrated on businesses having control via an owned media approach to build an audience who care and will buy. This has to be consistent in every place I am visible in order to build familiarity and trust.

Showcasing your consistency of message when you don’t have Jack Daniels sized budgets:

  • When you say that you are going to show up, show up. If you have a sign up form that promises something from you on a day of the week, deliver it
  • Become committed with an objective to be a better writer, presenter, speaker with an outcome to grow influence
  • Whilst you might think that all areas of your industry have already been covered, have the guts to showcase your approach and the way you look at the world
  • There is a fine line between communicating consistently and being consistently noisy, pick what you believe in and stand on that side of the road
  • Make sure everything joins up and over time can help make the jigsaw puzzle piece easily together. You don’t need to jump onto video because someone told you to, it is better to have a clear point of view that you can shape over time within a channel you are prepared to jump in and be able to swim within

 

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Am I getting led astray (because I heard that Snapchat was good) from one place to the other and spreading myself too thinly?
  • Can I put time aside each week to become better at one thing?
  • Is there a space within the marketplace that I can start to lean into?
  • Are there channels I feel more comfortable in than others?
  • Who else supports my point of view and where are they ie. from authors to other business owners
  • Can I keep the momentum with this over a period of time and ready to roll up the socks and start digging deep for the long term?

To make an impact on others you have to show a commitment, rather than thinking that just publishing is the answer to building an audience that you have ownership of.

 

Lets Round Up

You will never build traction if that super slick corporate video is placed on YouTube and you stand back and believe that an audience will gather round with a standing ovation. They won’t! If there is no consistency from an approach and message, it becomes a waste of money, where the only mantra is dry product promotion.

You have to find the right people who are allied to your cause, this helps build audience, rather than sitting in isolation and looking back at something with fondness of the day you brought a film crew in.

Consistency of approach and message comes from a place of sharing real experiences, where you can act with knowledge, fact and influence. This is how you can reach out and bring others to your realm. They will see the benefit of having someone who is on their side.

 

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tailoring your message to your audience

The message you deliver has to be curated for the medium you are using and the person who is breathing it in.

I know it sounds simple, but to make that impression you have to be tuned into the space you are distributing and wearing the shoes of the person who is consuming.

We all have access to a media channel at the fraction of the cost it used to be. You can build a YouTube series, find a voice with a podcast, or throw thinking bombs every day on Twitter. With so much available, the battle for attention is only going to get harder. In the words of Mark Schaefer on his {grow} bog (from Monday 20th), ‘content is intoxicating.’

 

Tailoring Your Message To Your Audience

The medium you deliver has to be respectful to the audience who consume.

tailoring your message to your audienceLet me explain.

I was on the tube in London this week and whilst waiting for my train, I started to wander off reading the tube ads and the longer form content that was on the platform. The story being told to me by Jack Daniels kept me locked in for at least a minute and whilst the screen said the next train was coming in three minutes, I had time to drift.

You have to tune your message to who is consuming and the format they are engaging.

Let me explain.

You are reading this blog now. This is how it becomes dissected for different media:


  • An edited version of this article is sent to the You Are The Media email subscribers (on a Thursday morning). I found that people wanted to read what was in front of them, rather than being teased to click to read more. People said they were happy reading within the format they had received.

 

  • The main points (meaning sentences) are shared throughout the week on Twitter and Linked timelines (normally accompanied by an image created from Canva).

 

  • During the monthly You Are The Media Lunch Club, I provide a round up of the main points from the articles produced during the month. I don’t stand and read out the blog, but share 30 seconds of what the article was about.

 

  • I’ll give it a bit of ‘oooomph’ on the Marketing Homebrew podcast and in the ‘our world’ section I will highlight some of the main points raised in my article.

Everything had started from the seed of an idea that took shape in different places, but was tailored to the medium someone else was consuming. The breadcrumbs always lead back to a centre piece (an article, a video, an audio) and it is the experiences that are shared always have a starting point.

This is why I am an advocate of an owned media approach as you have a main message that is then cut and tailored for different spaces. It isn’t an advert that broadcasts and you run out of steam because the focus was just the product. It is a point of view that is shared and is just as relevant from a tweet to being shared in front of an audience in the form of a live blog.

 

Story And Intention

You create a story and match the intentions of the message with the medium that is being used.

The themes, concepts and the way you deliver have to be adapted to the canvas that is in front of you. For instance, a tweet that is cut off halfway as the original message was from somewhere else is just lazy.

Tailoring Your Message To Your Audience

In the words of Mitch Joel in a Talking Content Marketing interview, “The thing to realise is that every channel has its own type of culture with an unwritten role of engagement and connection. Most brands go into channels to sell from them instead of learning to become part of the culture.”

This is all about getting to people where they are and then get them to come to you.

Tailoring Your Message To Your Audience

Discovering The Opportunity

When you understand your audience, you are also seeking an opportunity. This could be to encourage them to make a commitment such as subscribing or get in contact to enquire.

It is not just about who your audience is but why they are there. Is it to be entertained (such as a podcast)? Is it to be educated (reading your blog)? Is it something to pass the time (standing on the train platform).

The media that you use has to be relevant to your audience. I received a printed newsletter last month from a financial planning company. What could have been an opportunity to use as a way to inform, with articles of depth that had relevance to me i.e. the need to plan better for my future, took a route to promote the virtues of the business.

This was their moment, I was a captive audience and the opportunity ended up in the bin. There are some great articles created from their blog, so some of the best articles could have appeared in printed format. When print is used properly it is when it is relevant to your life (I still subscribe to having Campaign delivered every week, I don’t read the online version).

Here are some key pointers for you to take where someone has to be interested in the format that is in front of him or her.


  • Respect the medium. The world is not a cut and paste effort to be seen everywhere because that is where everyone else is. Time to take a breather and understand whatever channel you are looking to distribute, appreciate how other people use it. For instance, would you cut and paste a blog from Medium and put it directly into your Facebook stream? (I really hope you don’t).

 

  • Don’t waste time and money on pure product information or feeling noble because you made a school visit and then posted it everywhere. Does the channel you choose come from a place of being useful, challenging, entertaining, informative and above all else, a bit different? Wherever you appear, you have to be meaningful.

 

  • Less doesn’t have to be more. I realised that we don’t need to tease people, if it is good they will read/watch/listen to it. The most listened to Marketing Homebrew podcast, which was our last show of 2016, is just under one hour (the normal show length is 30 minutes). To say that people’s concentration is dwindling is an absolute misnomer, if the content is being created is relevant to someone else and they enjoy.

 

  • Understand the environment the content is going to be part of. If it is part of a Twitter stream of consciousness it is gone within seconds, compared to an email that is received every week and sits within an inbox waiting to be acknowledged. The difference between what is deleted or clicked is when the message sticks and fits with the reader.

 

  • An original idea can be adapted for a host of media. You don’t have to stick with one message residing one place, if you have an idea it can complement where the consumer is.

Lets Round Up

The companies who are successful are those who are relevant to someone else’s life and the stage they are at. It is up to us to understand the unwritten etiquette of the media channels that we use and who is taking the time to be a part of what we create and believe in.

The places where people interact with you and your message is not just about using a digital channel to distribute but complementing who they are and the time they are willing to spend with you.

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Better Sales People Before Content Marketers

Whilst creating value becomes the magnet to persuade, taking a wholly altruistic angle where you just say, ‘lets help’, is never going to win.

An approach with a big heart, but no strategy, will not create a positive outcome.

You cannot just inform other people and not align this with what you do. This will result in failure.

To attract customers and bring peoples attention to your side is not just a case of standing up and saying, ‘lets create content,’ it all relates to how you can build a rapport so others will align, interact and buy from you.

 

My Biggest Issue With The Show Don’t Tell Mantra

When it comes to creating content for an audience, lets just recognise that we are not professors or heavy weight academics whom have spent decades mastering a profession (by the way, this is why none of us are experts).

These are people who get paid by a university establishment, not a predominantly B2B customer base.

We all represent the voice of businesses and whilst we have moved on from pure product benefits fanfare and heavy self-promotion, we are still here to create profit from the work we produce.

I am 100% behind the role to educate, inform, challenge and entertain others, but it has to align with your business so others find an attachment.

 

It Takes Time

It may take time to convert a prospect to a customer. If it’s over two years, that’s ok. The way you take on board a content marketing/owned media approach is by allowing others to join your content stream at different periods. However, everything is geared towards an audience where there is a clear focus for who they are, the role you provide and the value you want them to take from it.

There is nothing wrong in selling where the objective is obtaining a stronger customer base (as long as it’s not the hard sell). It does become blurred when there is a relentless approach to inform, unless it comes from a deeper approach that ties into the nature of your product/service.

The focus has to be on isolating that thing where people choose your business over someone else, once you have communicated that message.

To become a good content marketer, you need to appreciate what it takes to sell what you believe in. If marketing relates to the message you share, sales links to the exchanges you own.

 

Proof When It Just Didn’t Align

digital first mindset

Here is an example where I have wasted a lot of time on an initiative but it did not connect and I failed.

I wholeheartedly informed, but in no way did I align.

During 2014 to 2016, the Once Upon A Time (with my good friend Matt Desmier) event took place in Bournemouth where business owners and people of influence were invited to the stage at Shelley Theatre to share their own story and the varied paths within their marketplace.

This event included brands taking part such as Ted Baker, River Cottage, Saltrock and more local to home Jimmy’s Iced Coffee, Organix and LV=. At the time it was a perfect vehicle to invite a face from a business in front of others and to be 100% honest with an audience.

It was a place where, for an afternoon, we all stood shoulder to shoulder. People left lifted, buoyed and there always a real buzz when looking at the Twitter timeline throughout the evening. Even people who attended wrote great write ups (see what I mean), sharing what they took and helped with the reach.

However, what it became was a very time intensive project to put together with no return (by this I mean, no conversation was ignited after the event by guest or audience). This included traveling to meet up with potential speakers and chunks of the day spent getting to know people (which I have to say was brilliant). This wasn’t a case of a one off, but six events over two years. It provided no path to build on. Why? It did not align with what I do.

I put this down to the fact that whilst there was an abundance of value, it didn’t necessarily connect with the undertones of what my business does and the approach I take (focused on ownership with a content marketing approach).

There was no way to maintain the dialogue or explore further. With all the hours spent to get people in and then dedicate an afternoon to present, looking back it makes me realise that if you give back with no purpose to what you do, it is not good for business. It just becomes a huge drain on the most precious of resources, time.

 

Here’s A Formula

Creating a deeper connection that shares business interest alongside value creation plus the ability to build a network/community leads to a better business.

 

Better Sales People Before Content Marketers

 

Taking Shape

So, what’s the answer?

There has to be a balance between linking to your objectives and the value you create for others.

We all need to become better equipped at connecting deeper with others first to reap commercial reward.

It is better to link back to the purpose that you have, rather than an ego driven to collect but not convert.

Before you think it’s time to commit to a content driven approach, there has to be an appreciation for the longer-term return.

Here is what you need to do when it comes to aligning others with what you do, rather than the belief that you have to create content to just inform.


  • Wisdom over information

Anyone can create and distribute the same tired messages with no real perspective. An article related to ‘content is king’ was the fail safe to write about in any marketer’s toolkit in 2012 (still a hefty 41.3m results).

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 15.14.48

This has now moved to ‘how AI will impact business’ (with a growing 15.3m results).

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 15.18.37

A better sales process is centered on providing insight that takes on experiences gained rather than other articles read. The wins, losses and openness that is shared with others, has more ability to connect on a personal level when there is some form of lesson learnt, that no one else can take away. Why talk about AI when it is something that you have no first hand experience to talk about in the first place?

 

  • Evidence over opinion

Providing evidence that stamps individuality beats stating ‘I believe.’

It is easier than ever before to make a statement and share it with the world. The word fake news wasn’t part of our vocabulary less than a year ago.

 

To present an approach to someone else there has to be enough familiarity that is backed up with proof for others to resonate with you and what is in front of them.

 

  • Resource over search

When you create for people who want to read/listen/watch what you put out into the big wide world, is much healthier than hoping someone is going to take notice just because you got the SEO seal of approval from Yoast.

If you are talking to decision makers, write from a detailed level about how a process works and how factors influence decision-making. You can’t paint everybody with the same brush. If your audience is those people getting to grips with social media, it is wrong hitting them with the virtues of live video from the outset. You have to write for people who will build enough trust that when the time is right to talk, it becomes much easier.

 

  • Nurture over speed

When delivery is centered on a customer/audience it takes time to build. The answer is not by throwing money at a Facebook campaign as the answer to quicker acceptance.

Instead of gambling everything on the one email to that database you bought last October, it is time to spread the message and variety of angles over months and years. The difference between the one email blast and nurturing what you are creating by finding new angles and conversations is that you are selling over a longer period of time, not as a result of one piece of creative that is sent to a mass audience.

Create your centre of gravity that is the asset that you have control of (your website). People spend too much time thinking that when a new website goes live, it is time to sit back and take the applause. When a new site is live, the journey has only just begun.

 

  • Community over collection

The default measurement should never be the collection of eyeballs. When working on the Once Upon A Time event, the focus was on people buying tickets, not looking at ways to deepen a relationship or ways for other opportunities for people to buy and creating additional services.

If you start from the outset to create connections rather than chasing numbers, you can cement better relationships. Working side by side to help create something better, rather than creating conditions that feel dictatorial and forced ie. the auto DM response when following someone on Twitter to then follow them on Facebook will never feel right.

 

  • Target over creation

During the early days of the Marketing Homebrew podcast, in 2015, the focus was more on getting shows done and broadcasted and understanding how a medium works (still learning though).

When I record the Marketing Homebrew podcast today, I always imagine I am talking to someone else, who I know. When I talk at presentations, if there are people who I know in the audience, I will always mention them.

When you know who you are creating for, it makes a difference over creation to fill a space because it’s there.

 

Lets Round Up

Lets get real and recognise that we are not established academics but businesses who are looking to align ourselves with others, based on what we believe in an how our products and services can help others.

If you can deliver what you believe in and build relationships with those who matter it all comes back to the old mantra of we all buy from people we trust and believe in. Alignment isn’t what you say in a blog post, it’s something you do when there is more than one business involved.

Everything you do as a business is built on relationships, so people feel comfortable when buying from you. It just so happens that you have the channels to stand up and be counted within.

To become better content marketers we have to understand the role we play, the value others will take, how this aligns with what we do and how this turns into profitable action.

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creating additional services

When you build solid experiences with customers, flexibility allows you to start creating additional services for others.

The services/product that you offer your marketplace can go beyond that one thing you sell to everyone where they pay. You can package together additional services that come back to your core belief. It all comes down to the relationship you have with other people.

Creating a range of content services can go way beyond the products and services that have been product x to audience for y and the way we have all behaved ie. one product for one audience. You now have the ability and right to provide education, entertainment and continuous learning, as long as people are familiar with your core product.

It is possible for the B2B world to adopt the approach from the likes of Amazon Prime, Spotify and YouTube.

YouTube have just launched their new TV subscription service (launching in the US with 30 cable channels). This will be a paid for service where the customer doesn’t require a contract just unsubscribe at any time (for $35 per month). The world of being comfortable with video content at the drop of a hat, just got more interesting (considering we’re now watching over 1 billion hours a day of YouTube videos). A huge opportunity for YouTube, the audience is already there!

It is a case of how a brand evolves but with the customer always in mind and a package that suits them. With the democratisation of media, you can now break down what you at various price points.

 

Be Patient & Build

Amazon owner Jeff Bezos said, “We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: put the customer first. Invest and be patient.” From buying books, to ordering a granite bench, we then moved to streaming films via Amazon Prime. Amazon are now looking at distribution to a colonised moon. The deliveries of gear, food and equipment to the lunar surface is intended to be by mid 2020. You could say the one word that Amazon completely stand by is distribution.

The creation of packages are all intended for an audience who believes.

Spotify, who have just reached 50 million paid subscribers, are about to expand the selection of their podcasts. Last month (February), Spotify announced that they will feature more original podcasts to go head to head with iTunes.

Spotify have also announced, in the past week, the option for higher quality lossless streaming, for a higher monthly fee. It is going to be called Spotify Hi-Fi (so an extra £7.50 option could be on its way to you). Further proof of a brand creating different options for an audience who are happy to pay for access.

Film studios are now sharing their skills for others to learn from. Want to explore the art of storytelling for your business? Perhaps it’s time to take this free course from Pixar, click here. When it comes to creating packages for your audience, education and training services as a content platform have a key role to play.

 

Moving To Your Arena

Creating packages is not just something centred on the big brands from the B2C arena.

I highlighted in an article from November 2016 on creating new streams within your own ecosystem. The focus was on Crimson Guitars who had not rested on their laurels as a guitar manufacturer.

Crimson Guitars are a team of 17 people who understand how guitars work. Owner, Ben Crowe, is one of the most persistent people I have ever met. They have new shows on YouTube six days a week, this explains the 80k+ audience they have built.

This is Ben Crowe

What is fascinating is not just the commitment to provide value outside from the core business but creating additional services for their audience. They have created separate revenue streams from guitar making, teaching (online or offline) and tool making. People have options for how deeply they want to connect and to become involved.

find your niche

If you can bundle together packages that suit your audience but fall under the same overall topic for your business you start to grow legs and head in a new (but clear) direction. It is all centred on finding the right package for the right audience.

 

What I Have Done

As my business has changed tact over the past year, everything is focused on three areas, creation, strategy and learning.

They all sit separately but come under the banner of ownership with a content marketing approach. Just to explain: the creation service is for customers on an ongoing basis; the strategic side is to get companies up and running so they have a purpose to then build momentum; learning is in a group environment for businesses to learn together, such as the You Are The Media Lunch Club and the You Are The Media Strategy Day.

Harvard Business School, in 2012, created a paper titled, ‘The Dynamic Effects Of Bundling As a Product Strategy.’ One of the findings was that success with a variety of products is where one piece of the bundle is produced at a lower cost. I am finding this true when selling a higher ticket item alongside a lower ticket equivalent.

Let me explain. The monthly You Are The Media Lunch Club is priced at £10 and has been active each month since June 2016. I produced a survey at the end of last year asking people what they would want to learn more about.

Over 60% of people wanted to learn how they could apply a strategic approach to their business. Basically, from what they are hearing, how can they put into practice.

I recognised that this couldn’t be covered in a single lunchtime session (Lunch Club is from 12.15pm to 1.45pm), so I introduced a Strategy Day at the end of April for a smaller, more intimate audience but at £195 (or £250 for non You Are The Media subscribers). By breeding familiarity with the Lunch Club, selling spaces for the Strategy Day has been far easier than originally anticipated and sold 75% out with a month to go.

According to the Harvard research paper, Assistant Professor, Vineet Kumar highlighted, “ideally you should be bundling products that have a positive synergy together.”

“Bundling is a rather easy way of putting new product offerings together to complement the product line. There’s more potential to get it right than to get it wrong.”

 

Introducing Your Side & What You Need To Consider

If you are looking at creating packages that complement your main product/service, here are some points to think about.


  • Allow people to familiarise themselves with not just your product, but also your message. For instance, can you create and distribute to a subscribed audience on a frequent basis that shows your proof and commitment such as a regular email round up that has to be relevant and of interest.

 

  • There has to be a clear correlation between your products and services. For instance, you cannot just chuck anything in and think it is going to be credible. If you are a gym instructor, a personal fitness programme, accompanied by a healthy eating meal plan and then selling blenders and supplements becomes overkill.

 

  • Survey your audience. You cannot just put together a package that you think other people will need. What you think is different from what they want. The main reason for the April Strategy Day is because people highlighted that they believed it would useful for them (here’s the survey results). This allowed me to explore deeper.

 

  • People associate the value being presented. In order to move from a £10 lunch, to a £195 day and then to a monthly package, I have to make sure that people grasp the value and see everything in context and not the world I once was in by considering anyone and everyone as a customer. There always has to be ways to deepen a conversation. From sharing articles such as this, to being present in someone’s inbox every week, to inviting someone to be part of a much wider network of people on the same wavelength, an objective has to become a trusted source.

When you can find a way to create packages that are bundled together you have direct access to an audience at different stages of their life cycle. For instance, a new business is more than likely to invest in the monthly Lunch Clubs than a monthly creation retainer package.

 

Lets Round Up

You now have the ability to create and batch services together, and take control of online and offline channels as a way to complement your overall product offering.

It all comes down to widening and deepening the relationship with people who want to be onboard, so when you reveal new additions in the future, it becomes easier for people to buy in.

When you package experiences to an audience who are already familiar, people are ready. The need to spend and allocate budget on promotional tactics to raise awareness becomes minimal when you already have an audience who are already locked in.

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MarketingHomebrew (3)

Your weekly Marketing Homebrew breaks 30 minutes into what’s happening in the big world, our world and your world.


BIG WORLD: Waterstones have just been rumbled (27th March) for setting up stores that look authentic, but have no reference or branding that represents the book store (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-39101186).

Is this is a brand that is pretending to be something they’re not and appearing false as an independent book shop, or is it ok as long as people see something that is compelling to interact with?

Perhaps they could have been a bit subtler with a, “Southwold books bought to you by Waterstones” approach.

I think the message for us all is that we need to be consistent with how we present ourselves to others. When your product and your message do not match up, it causes conflict. It doesn’t become believable.


OUR WORLD: Ian found an interesting article on Medium (https://medium.muz.li/user-research-is-overrated-6b0fe101d41#.gowz5bgp1) that looks at the fact that user research is overrated.

When it comes to research, lets not get bogged down that it slows the whole process down and becomes chore. A live lab is a great approach where there is consistency in learning. Maybe it’s time to create and share, rather than keeping everything in a box?


YOUR WORLD (or YOUR ROUND….see what we did)

This weeks question comes from Gordon Fong. Gordon asks, “Does there come a moment when you have to take this offline?”

Simply publishing in the digital space may not be enough anymore.

Whether online or offline, it doesn’t matter which side of the coin you prefer, if you are relevant to someone else, you mean something.

Taking it to a more personal space where someone has committed to find out more, you have elevated the whole experience to an audience that are ready, committed and prepared for what you have to say.

Don’t forget to ask us a question from your side, or highlight what is working with you where you are building audience. Send to ask@marketinghomebrew.com