A Call To Rethink The Role You Provide To Others

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When it comes to your content marketing efforts, it’s time to look at the role you present to others.

What worked three years ago for your business, probably isn’t going to work as well next year.

To one person the internet is seen as a provider, to another it represents a prospect. You can either think of it as a source of information or a place where others are looking around, and comparing, you to others.

There are now over 100 billion Google searches per month. When others have a look at you, you better make sure you turn up and are relevant within your marketplace.

At the same time, there is more content on the horizon. Research from July 2015 (from Starcom Mediavest on behalf of Credos) stated that 76% of UK marketers are producing more content than they did 12 months ago. 56% are planning to increase their content marketing budget in 2016.

All Comes Back To The Word Relevance

Relevance seems to be a big word I have used this year. I am getting closer to understanding what it means. In my own definition, relevance is about evoking an emotion in someone else that then gets shared within a community that you feel good to be part of.

The seed of your relevance is the content that you create.

However, here is the problem. People and businesses are still creating content with the overriding priority to gain awareness and drive attention.

According to the recent B2B Content Marketing Trends (North America from Content Marketing Institute/Marketing Profs), this follows the belief when companies were asked for their top priorities.

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The issue that I have is the importance for engagement and attention (72% of participants), rather than the customer journey and understanding an audience (41% of participants).

 

Putting Things Into Context

Let me put it into context. It is the equivalent of where I was ten years ago. With many girls that I went out with, lets just say that you wouldn’t want to take them home to your mother. The attention was gained, but wasn’t necessarily there to build a relationship with and to know better over time.

Lets back this up further. According to The Fournaise Marketing Group, after analysing more than 500 marketing strategy documents, briefs and reports (January to June 2015), 77% of marketers still consider marketing effectiveness to mainly be about awareness.

Many businesses are still backing the same horse that is now getting older and approaching retirement. Many businesses are still stuck in the way the world looked for generations. In the words of Winston Churchill at a meeting in the House Of Lords, “we shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us.”

To bring another analogy to this article, it’s like the office loud mouth that thinks that he is the popular person at work and has always believed that, whereas the rest of the company team go out for a drink without him at the end of a week.

 

Knowing Others Better

This is where we are with our businesses. You need to understand your audience better to build a longer term relationship (subscriber or customer).

This can’t be about quick wins by thinking that more content is the answer. Whilst getting to grips with the content you create is the means, it is not the end. You have to earn the attention and space of others, not demand it.

To provide a deeper role that has to be about being on the side of your audience (and relevant to them), here are some areas to consider.


 

1) There is more to building relationships than automated messages

Every tweet (over 6,000) and LinkedIn post I have made, I have been present. When someone replies back, I am ready to respond, rather than an automated tweet at 2am whilst fast asleep. You can’t look for shortcuts to converse.

People want to automate to make their lives easier and to be in as many places at once, but 64% of CMOs have either an informal or no process to manage their automation (according to The Annuitas Group).

Lets not blame the technology and the lack of processes involved but invest more in understanding who are the people who interact, visit, subscribe, comment, download and tailor our content around them.

Once you create something that is intended for someone else, this enters a different place than investing in distribution methods centred on volume rather than relational.

Rather than accept that a role of automation is the equivalent of using a calculator instead of working out the sum on a piece of paper, you need to keep learning and have the curiosity to test and try new things out.

 

2) What information do people want from you?

You have to understand what people want from you.

A couple of months ago, The Marketing Homebrew podcast changed tact and people decided to switch off and not come back. The podcast lost a sizeable audience in September (when looking at the show analytics). What did this mean? Quite simply we went off track.

Whilst it was the same people presenting the show (Ian Rhodes and myself), the audience wasn’t quite ready for a sharp turn. The answer was to find a compromise and come back to what it was people were looking for. This was effectively free consulting and a viewpoint on how to position your business with a content approach.

Rather than presuming what people want, you have to continuously monitor the content you distribute.

Understand what content gets shared, where is the subscriber growth coming from your website (is it pop-ups or forms at the end of an article).

 

3) Embrace the imperfection

Just because you haven’t put aside a huge amount of budget for a corporate video, doesn’t mean you should shy away from video.

With plans to integrate greater synergy between Periscope and Twitter, as highlighted in Adweek last month, the opportunities are going to be even greater to those who are willing to create.

Just because it is via your phone and not on an expensive film camera and perhaps something you haven’t invested time with to experiment, it’s time to embrace the imperfections.

My Content Revolution Workshops are presented via my iPhone 6, speaker and a tiny projector. The presentation slides are produced via Canva.

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Whilst tradition suggests I should use a proper projector and plug my laptop in, I am trying to highlight that we don’t need to follow convention. Ok, the last workshop had an issue with the projection (it was blurry….what an amateur), but lessons learnt will make every workshop next year stronger.

It is ok to not be ok. In the words of Eric Cantona, “If someone is too perfect they won’t look good. Imperfection is important.”

 

 

4) You can get closer to a customer. Talk to them.

To empathise is to understand someone else. Whilst I’m highlighting podcasts, video and social in this article, perhaps it is also time to strip things back to getting to know people a bit better.

You have to understand the challenges that others have, that way you can become a lot more accommodating. Many of the articles that I create are from talking to other people and look to interpret.

Please don’t think that I am coming across a bit holier than thou, all I am trying to highlight is that content inspiration can come from all different places, rather than being reliant on a Google keyword planner.


Bringing To A Conclusion

You have to look beyond engagement and awareness as a focal point for building your audience, you have to look deeper by walking in the shoes of others. In the words of Russell Brand whilst watching the recent ‘Brand:A Second Coming,’ “you can’t think your way into acting differently, you have to act your way into thinking differently.”

We all like to think that we can analyse, change and adapt but much is grounded within the way things have always been done. The old ways of thinking may not necessarily work tomorrow.

The role you provide for others is to reframe what has been done and into self directed pattern of behaviour. When you become relevant to an audience around you, you can shape the longevity of a relationship. That’s a nice place to be.

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