Part of a ten part series. Breaking down great content rules from top businesses around the world.
Note: This story will constantly be updated to include the upcoming parts of the series. You can bookmark this story to check it out over the coming days to find links of the stories that deal with the individual topics.
I have been a delivery boy, a customer service rep, a programmer, an ops guy, a designer, a data entry operator. Over the course of the past decade, I have temporarily put on each of these hats in the different businesses I have run. But before anything else, I am a marketer, and as such I have had interactions with thousands of marketers everywhere, follow businesses who do good work with their marketing function, and have helped businesses who have been struggling with their marketing and customer outreach.
Unlike general perception, marketing isn’t just about increasing the awareness of your brand and increasing the topline. It is a tool which, when used well, has tremendous potential to impact people’s lives.
Essentially, you, as a marketer, have the opportunity to contribute to your community, your society, and the day to day behavior of people around you.
TODAY, SPECIALISED >> GENERALISED
There is a reason why you hear terms like a “T-Shaped Marketer” in the marketing communities of today. Brands that have been successful in bringing onboard a variety of people, marketing skills, functional backgrounds and diverse perspectives in their marketing functions are the ones who tend to have a leg up on their competitors.
The modern marketer has to be familiar with a lot, good at many, and master of a few.
Content marketing is something that I have always been quite bullish on, and have been writing a lot about for the past couple of weeks. And there are many brands out there who excel at the game of content marketing. So today, the thought was to lets try to learn from them and shortlist some tips that your business can leverage to get the best out of your content marketing team and consistently produce great content. Content that adds a ton of value to your consumers, and by association contributes to the growth of your business.
WHAT WE ARE NOT GOING TO TALK ABOUT
We are not going to do the usual clickbait stuff.
- We won’t talk about keywords and the importance to stuff your articles with keywords to make sure you rank up in Google search results.
- We are not going to talk about the importance of having strong emotional headlines, and vibrant, bold images from Unsplash, Pixabay etc. to go with your content.
- We are not going to talk about the “best times” to post your content on social media.
- Unless relevant to the topic we are discussing, we are not going to talk about the tools your business “must be using” in your marketing functions. And even when relevant, remember — the tools help you, but the tools won’t be what will be making your marketing great. It would always be you; the tools are just enablers.
- We are not going to talk about how to gain followers and shares on social media. Sure you want to gain followers, but let us first add value to our consumers before we start asking “How can my consumers add value to my business?”
The list of what we are not going to talk about can be pretty long, so let me just simplify it. We will talk about getting the basics right. Something that can help you embark on the journey of doing your content marketing the right way — one which will add value to your consumers as well as your business.
LET US GET THE BASICS OUT OF THE WAY FIRST
It doesn’t matter whether you are talking about marketing in general, or content marketing in particular, or if you are simply talking about your business overall, there are some things that you simply have got to do. So, instead of allocating each of them a story, it makes more sense to briefly talk about them here and then move onto items that require a relatively deeper dive.
You would find that businesses that put the interest of their consumers first tend to perform better, and more importantly, are simply loved by their audience. Whether it is Zappos (even before it was acquired by Amazon) or Apple, their customers swear by their brand. The reason why I bought my first Mac was because I knew if something went wrong with the laptop I couldn’t afford at the time, I would not need to waste countless hours (my time was my more precious resource at that time, maybe even today) chasing customer support.
Why it matters even more for marketers? Because this ensures that every marketing meeting you have begins with — “How does it benefit our consumers?”
A business that is able to think like a customer, and understand his needs, aspirations and problems would be one that creates rich, engaging, satisfying, and overall, delighting experiences for its consumers. And that is what drives up your NPS (net promoter score) — a metric every brand out there seems to be chasing today.
BE LIKE PUTTY
Businesses and marketers alike need to be fluid.
Actually you know what. This may be my bias as a marketer speaking here, but I am going to just use either business or marketer hereon. There is not a single reason that I can think of why a marketer would be able to dissociate himself from the business he works his ass off for. And everything the business does — whether it is in operations or product design, the marketer needs to answer for them. After all, he is the one interacting with the consumers every day.
The rules of engagement change frequently when it comes to the best ways and practices to reach out to your consumers, and as such marketers need to be fluid and adaptable in their approach as well. You can’t be rigid on “this is how we have always done it”. Just because it worked then doesn’t mean it will or should work even today.
HAVE A COHERENT BRAND IDENTITY.
Your logo, color scheme and web presence are not your brand identity. They are tools that help you start on the journey of establishing your brand identity. A brand’s identity works the same way an individual’s identity does. It is your personality, how you are perceived as. Are you funny or serious? Are you someone that people trust or do they prefer steering clear off of you?
Know very clearly what your brand stands for. Because unless you know it yourself, you won’t be able to communicate your core values and foundational philosophies to your consumers, and unless you are able to do that, your consumers will always be skeptical of you. Another reason why it becomes absolutely critical to have a coherent brand identity is to ensure you are authentic in your brand positioning. You need to be honest — both with yourself as well as your consumers. If you are putting on a fake persona with your consumers, sooner or later that mask will fade away, and any rapport you may have built up with your base — it will all be gone in that moment. Be authentic, be genuine, be true. Above all, be good.
BE CONSISTENT IN YOUR MESSAGING
Over and over again, I have talked about the importance of consistency in your messaging. Even though it is a part of your brand identity, it is important enough to get its own space to be talked about.
One of the primary-most influencing factors in a consumer transacting with you is the fact that he trusts you more than the next guy/business in question. And a key reason behind that is your ability to establish your presence as a domain or subject matter expert. Now it becomes difficult for you to do that when you are all over the place in the message you are communicating across. So, be consistent.
More than anything else, Apple still talks about challenging the norms and rules. When Steve Jobs unveiled the iphone, he talked about “An ipod, a phone and an internet communicator” a few times before he let out the words — “These are not three separate devices. This is one device; and we are calling it iphone”. That is how Apple has been challenging the status quo for years.
Even after years since the launch, Apple is still all about challenging what exists. Whether it is utilising the entirety of the phone screen, to getting rid of the tangling earphones, and that is what their entire brand messaging has always been. So, be consistent.
WHAT COMES NEXT IN THE SERIES?
So, what should you expect in the coming days in this series?
I would be talking about some key things that businesses should get right to ensure their content marketing is continuously producing content that is of high value to their audience.
Author note: As stories on these individual topics get published, I will update this segment to include links to the relevant topics. Stay tuned!
Section for updates:
A. Dec 13, 2018 - Twice a week, this series would be updated. You can expect addition to the series on Sundays and Wednesdays. Cheers!
B. Dec 18, 2018 - The second part of the series, and the first point below (importance of great storytelling) is published and ready for consumption. Do give it a read. Link updated below as well.
(Sorry, it got delayed by a couple of days. My mother is visiting and my sister and brother-in-law were visting over the weekend to spend time with mom and I.)
C. <to be updated; stay tuned>
1. The importance of great storytelling. Why is it important, and how leading brands do it?
Link to the story:
Part of a ten part series. Breaking down great content rules from top businesses around the world.hackernoon.com
2. What do I do now? As an entrepreneur, you would always find yourself in a position where you are expected to do ten different things. How do you prioritise? Is it right to drop one item off the list in favor of something else? And how do you decide which one to drop at any time?
3. Alliances!! There is an old African proverb — “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” What sort of alliances, collaborations and partnerships should you be on a lookout for, and how should you approach them?
4. Visual cues! A picture is worth a thousand words and in the instant-gratification world we live in today, truer words have never existed. You get a very small percentage of the time your audience has; how do you leverage the power of visual imagery to make the best out of that?
5. Putting on a lab coat. Marketers have to be all about trying out something new. You can’t keep on treading the same path taken by countless before you and expect groundbreaking results. You need to try out something new. You need to experiment. So how do you do that to maximise the impact for your business while also mitigating the risk of failure and timeloss?
6. Over analyzing. :-) I know how bad that sounds. After all, nothing good ever comes from overthinking anything, but all your marketing efforts are hours flushed down the drain if you are not measuring and thereafter analyzing what works and what doesn’t, and how that alters your future strategy.
7. Pricing things right. When we talk about pricing, we are not just talking about pricing the product or service you are selling. Everything has a price tag attached to it — whether you talk about the cost of acquiring a customer or you talk about that ‘refer a friend’ campaign your business is so bullish about. So, how do you price things right?
8. Juggling. Look back at #2. It was all about prioritising. But while that is important, you need to remember that life is neither fair nor ideal. You will find yourself in scenarios quite often when your business would expect you to juggle 2–3 balls at the same time. Do that, and do that smart.
9. Hungry for more. The world of entrepreneurship and marketing alike is full of some incredibly smart and more importantly tireless, hard-working people. You must yearn to learn from them all the time. How do you do that while also giving all you have to the business?
WHY COULD I NOT HAVE CRAMMED IT ALL UP HERE?
- Because every content is for an audience. And I would have lost my audience’s interest if this article was a 59 min read. :-)
- I may not have been able to do justice to the individual points in order to save up on the reading time. So, let’s do it right.
- Worst scenario — I may never come close to finishing it completely. By starting it small and pushing it out in bits, I am giving myself targets and deadlines to adhere to. Deadlines, even self imposed, are great motivators.