When you centre your message to an addressable audience, you spend less, you get more back.
Bringing everything back from Content Marketing World 2017 (September 6th to 8th) is effectively a chance to reflect, press the reset button and focus on the opportunity that is presented.
This article looks at the main themes from this year’s event.
This has been collated via immersing myself in the talks throughout (I was crawling on the plane back to the UK), speaking to others and also reading what others have been documenting in the past week. My notes from Evernote have then been written down onto paper. They have then been highlighted and then all the dots start to join up to find the themes that connect common grounds.
Lets share everything in context of the opportunity that is provided for you when you take control of the spaces that are yours.
Lets Share With You
First of all, a quick look at main themes I highlight from Content Marketing World 2016:
- You have to start at the end
- Encourage deeper thinking
- Build a network and distribution framework
- Does not matter how slow you go, you can’t stop
- A spark sets a framework
- The default measurement is not volume
- An ally in creation is an ally in promotion
Looking back on these points (above), what I have this year is very much about getting down to the basics in order to build momentum.
The overall theme is that it starts and ends with your audience.
Successful business models will be built from a trusted audience. This can be monetised in different ways than a business has had before. For instance, on a personal level, I never knew that away from the main business (consultancy and creation), I would step forward to create a conference in 2018.
The companies who will fail will be those who stick resolutely to a campaign mindset where content production/promotion is centred on product benefits (basically every advert you see on Facebook). It is far easier to hit the default button and measurement metrics focused on clicks, demand generation and popularity, rather than getting deeper and wider within a network you have responsibility for.
The pivot is to make audience building within an owned channel more attractive. To do this, we have to provide more value for those who are ready to come on board with us within a world that is brimming with self-confessed experts.
It is a challenge for us all, but if we take all the wording of content marketing, influencer marketing, account based marketing, social media marketing out the way, the one thing that joins everything is the ability to build companies that other people trust, want to spend time with and have a relationship that is more than a one off transaction. We can do this by building value and centre on the creation of a loyal and trusted audience. This is the asset we can all build.
Lets get down to it. Here are the five major themes and what you need to think about to build an audience who feel attached to you.
There Is A Glut Of Expertise, Time To Answer The Unanswered
The world is awash from people who know better. It makes complete sense. The democratisation of media means that we can take to channels that have no editorial or vetting process and share the fact that we should be seen in higher regard than someone else. The trouble is, everyone else is doing this at the same time.
Once upon a time, if you had something valid to say, you had to go via someone else, namely an editor or some form of publisher, who then distributed to a ready made audience. Today, the ready-made audience is there, just that there is a lack of control. For instance, in March 2017, brands such as Pepsi, The British Government and Johnson & Johnson pulled out of advertising on YouTube. This is because banners appear over videos posted by extremist groups.
So, what do you do?
You find your own insights, answer something that has your stamp to it and you have the ability to continually validate and provide insight. Have a read of this article that looks at a framework based on fact, experience and opinion.
Everything that you share has to come from place of validation and also more importantly, context.
This means that whatever you share, fits the medium you are within. It also means someone else can understand it and becomes compelling information. For instance, scraping an email list to send to a stranger a new offer that has no relevance to them, stops any conversation before a ‘hope you are well’ follow up can begin. The ability for a meaningful connection stops well before the ‘I don’t know this person’ enters someone’s head before they open the email.
You Need An Audience Big Enough To Care
Just because you have spent weeks/days putting together the video or the next blog article together, does not mean that people are going to watch, read, listen. There are too many businesses investing in the self-indulgence of one piece (the video, the ad, the download, the printed collateral), only to find there was never an audience in the first place.
For instance, if I take to Twitter to tell people about the next You Are The Media | Lunch Club event, the action I want (people booking to attend) is going to be minimal, as I am competing in the same space as everyone else at that particular time of day. If I can address people directly via email, who have come to previous events and get a regular email, then the return is far better (people signing up to come along).
If you do not have a loyal and trusted audience, what do you have? You are then looking at stealing attention away from another platform that probably isn’t yours. This is fine; it cannot be your last resort. A strategic goal for your business has to be the ability to attain and retain an audience. If this means your audience then actively shares your content with others, you are in a far stronger place than thinking you have to continually spend money on someone else’s land.
Whilst reach is important, it is stronger to resonate with someone who is willing to then take action ie. subscribe, book or buy from you.
Owning The Relationship Is Key
When you have the control and the responsibility, the conversation starts with you, in your own space.
The challenge is to be in a continual place of relevance and where you figure out what makes sense with your audience and not just tell people what you think they should know.
It is time to stop the overpopulation of bravado and focus on the people who are willing and want to share what you investigate and feel a part of what you create.
Whatever the space it is that attracts people, this is what you lean into. You don’t have to be greedy and think that you have to dominate every space but have little knowledge of how each channel behaves, so you lose interest.
It is better to be slow, but committed to a medium, rather than a flurry of activity that then falls silent. The alternative is to spend in places where organic reach is plummeting. Facebook’s organic reach has declined significantly and increases in paid promotion have not enabled brands and publishers to maintain their levels of Facebook engagement. According to Buzzsumo during August, the average number of engagements with Facebook posts created by brands and publishers has fell by 20% since January 2017. There is only so much screen that a company can fight for.
Build A Reputation Recognised For Getting The Job Done
If others recognise the commitment that you provide, within channels that support longer term thinking, you become regarded in a higher esteem than someone who starts something and never sees anything through.
This is not about a continual stream of motivational quotes on Instagram, but having a presence that will always put you two steps ahead of the competition. If you can find a message that aligns with what you do and you start exploring in the channel you have made a vow to, it is perfectly fine to start at the bottom.
With the ability to explore within many channels you would never have thought to participate in before, no one starts anything as a trusted resource. When you recognise this is a journey, you acknowledge this is about building an authority and making sense with your audience.
There will always be a trade off, but it doesn’t have to knock you sideways that you become a B2B hermit.
We live in a world that has always been campaign driven, but what if we recognise that the campaign is only the dent, it is how we find the momentum, that provides the ability for others to recognise and you have a responsibility within someone else’s week.
Assist/Educate/Entertain Others, Whilst Improving The Bottom Line
By taking a responsibility to advise, entertain, inform and energise others, lets not forget that this is still all about the business that you build, not an altruistic web to get tangled within.
Whilst generosity is the key, an open door builds a stronger business. The more you can help and advise, the more you attain.
If the message you deliver is robust and aligns with your overall message, that people can connect with, you stand in a far healthier place to create profitable action. You are able to monetise in many ways (and new ways) that you never thought possible.
People look for meaning and purpose from whom they buy from or invest in. With technology changing human behaviour and media more accessible than ever (not just online, but offline), you can provide the value, so people show loyalty.
Resonance is key, if you cannot do this, then the medium is a complete waste of time. It is time to stop the manipulation, the pop ups and hiding work behind locked gates. If you have something that can add value to someone else, why think that personal information has to be treated like an under the table exchange with them? If it is good, they will stand shoulder to shoulder and share it with others.
If you can do this in a timely way, from a regular email, to an ongoing event you start to look at the content you produce and share as an asset. This is what can help you connect, build audience, involve others and sell.
Lets Round Up
The audience you build, is an asset that you can continually grow.
The content that you distribute has far more resonance when you send to those who already trust you. The messages from Content Marketing World 2017, centre on having the ability to say something that not everyone else is saying within your industry. This way people recognise the role that you provide and the value that you consistently deliver. In turn, the original content that is created (both online and offline), has the ability to drive the decision making process so you can monetise.
The crux for this centres on the audience that you build that receive long-term integral value. It is time to strip things back and recognise the ability to drive people to you, rather than throwing the net out to see what comes in.
Lets sum up this article, in the shape of a presentation. Click below for the slides.