The new subscriber has signed up, but surely you’ve got to be a bit more creative than sending them back a ‘white paper’ pdf in return for their email address.
It is the duty of a business to serve our audience, who have decided that they will submit their details in return for information. It is the commitment for businesses to build longer-term, more authentic relationships that not just delivers content but also has the ability to entertain and challenge.
In a recent Talking Content Marketing interview with Andrew Davis he summed everything up perfectly. We all need other people to ‘make a commitment to consume the content you’re creating.’ We’ve let people into our world, shouldn’t it be our responsibility to make them feel they are part of something that is more than a FREE download that constitutes a follow up email to prompt a sale?
You’ve probably read the word ‘storytelling’ more times in the past year than you have done since the days of school. I believe the reason for this is that marketing today is more focused on using media (from a blog to a tweet) that can be distributed to engage an audience or more simply:
MEDIA + DISTRIBUTION (OF MESSAGE) + REACH = AUDIENCE
More Digestive Biscuits Or A Better Host?
No matter how the world is now saturated with content, if the right message resonates with a person, then everyone else can keep churning and pleading for attention. You now have the ability to turn a person from a consumer of information into a subscriber. This is on a different level from a follower. The reason is someone has made a commitment to you, rather than a passing acknowledgement to what you are saying. I say that this is one of the most powerful tools to any business owner today.
Once the door is open (or rather someone has subscribed), it’s time to let them into your ‘virtual’ home. Businesses can either do it two ways, we can keep feeding them the same digestive biscuits and show our photo albums or we can start to show them fun things in the home that they would enjoy too.
When I say we can keep feeding people the same biscuits is the way businesses stick to one method of dialogue. More often than not this is a sporadic email that has no consistency or structure, but sent on an ad-hoc basis. When businesses get out the photo album, this is the one-way direction of conversation where the focus is specifically about them (the business) and their achievements.
Too many companies are still doing the equivalent of typing your name into Google to see how many other people are called ‘you.’ The majority of people aren’t really interested, only yourself. What this means is that very quickly, the person who has come to see you, leaves before they have reached the end of the tea cup and probably won’t be back in a hurry (or in online terms, ‘unsubscribe’).
The businesses that engage with others, once they have sat down and finished their cup of tea is to build rapport. The aim is to not sit motionless and continually pour from the same tea pot ie. the same methods of communication. The key is to build the connections we make in real life.
WHAT I’VE LEARNT FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
You need to make other people feel part of what you are doing and to listen to them. By using measurement metrics such as Google Analytics and the Mailchimp report facility, I can now see the type of article that resonates with my audience.
I previously believed that to create content (that people wanted to read), I had to turn myself into a machine that was regularly instructing people how to create, curate and distribute content and the best practices. I realise that there are far better people in this world that can do that (from an orderly queue behind Jeff Bullas). What I noticed from the analytic reports was that more people read articles that looked at my own failures, lessons learnt and a more emotional approach rather than lists and ‘how to’ articles.
It’s also true that more articles are read that have an image that isn’t from Shutterstock (or any other image library) and show a bit of realism (namely the iPhone pointing at something). So in short, it’s time to stop thinking that we have to create articles that show the shaking hands or ethnically diverse board-room. I’ll leave the full list to this song:
Authenticity and not taking ourselves too seriously, are two ways that you won’t alienate your audience.
Making your audience feel part of something has to be encouraged and delivered. I began the ‘Talking Content Marketing’ interviews in November 2013 where my own curiosity about not marketing as though it’s 2004 has brought many other voices to my space to share with others. It is the idea of collaborating with marketing influencers, to bring a different perspective that encourages a fresh approach to the reader. Collaboration helps to build a community of like-minded people. The only way this can work though, is if you are consistent. People need to see that if you introduce something new that you will deliver, rather than a stop-start approach where the best intentions are there from the beginning but fade away.
Back to the analogy on inviting people into your home, things can work when you start to show people around. Variety becomes a key ingredient to keeping your subscribers engaged (I’m now starting to dislike the ‘subscriber’ word, it needs to be a lot more personal). Keeping people engaged, I don’t mean directing them to sections of your website such as the testimonial section to see what others have said about you. It represents highlighting and sharing activities where you can both become part of the same space outside of your immediate surroundings. It’s the equivalent of leaving the house and going to the local coffee shop.
During September the Once Upon A Time event was introduced. The concept was to chat (on a stage) to businesses that have their origins within the county (Dorset), but have a presence on a national level. The first event included LV=, Organix, Jimmy’s Iced Coffee and Olives Et Al. What this enabled was to build the dialogue with my audience leading up to the event, that was completely unrelated to my business but something that others would connect with myself (and Matt Desmier who is part of the event too).
Creating an event for an owned audience that you have built yourself and not bought (such as purchasing a database from an industry sector), is a valuable tool for recognition and association. This can then encourage a transition from an audience to a community. The best way to define a ‘community’ are people who continually have a dialogue with you, feel that they are part of something and care (click here to read the full article on an audience v community definition). This is the next progression from a subscriber to then become an advocate. These people will recommend you to others and totally understand what you believe in, what you stand for and the voice that you portray. It is the equivalent of someone else doing your marketing for you such as sharing what you tweet to their audience (and it didn’t cost you a penny).
STARTING TO ROUND UP
Responsibility is now with businesses to build their own audience and to create and curate experiences that mean something. If you are a gym instructor you wouldn’t change halfway through an hour session and start reading books on nutrition. The people who have turned up to the gym, need a return for their time (and their money) to feel physically challenged and achieve what they initially committed to. Similar to your business, people will come to you because of the solutions you provide.
Businesses need to be crystal clear with their role to help others. When a two-way stream of conversation is generated, the glut of content that is everywhere is filtered. The reward is there for those who can entertain, challenge and interact.