Here’s the hard fact, Content isn’t really the King.
Especially not for those who are just starting a brand or are in the process of making one. Relevancy is what makes you royal and your customers loyal.
The year 2017 has been that of digital revelations and just as the years before, has come with learnings in abundance for marketers and brands alike. There are literally zero audiences that springboard your sales and fatten your wallets just because of the content that’s added to your website or social media.
This is primarily a product of two reasons:
1) Beautifully done content presented to the wrong audience.
2) Or miserably made content that unfortunately reaches the right audience.
Permutations of these are mainly what put a block on brands and their digital image, value, and sales. Yet this doesn’t stop India from increasing its YoY investments in internet advertising while other media witness constant plummets.
“Hey there, Dev. Easy to point out a problem. Are you going to help out or just keep blabbering?”
Now, sitting here, not knowing where you’re reading this from, what your brand is about and how you’ve been approaching your branding and marketing, I can’t give you a fortified solution (not God or Seth Godin). But what I can do is share 4 core areas that, if corrected, will help you position your brand in the right direction.
1. Research and locate your audience online.
Most brands instantly create a digital presence and start shooting out content even before knowing who they want to target and what they need to say.
So, got a Facebook page?
Go see which and how the content has performed, who has it appealed to the most and when.
Got an Instagram handle?
Set up a business account if you haven’t already, take learnings of the audience/followers, what was worthy of shares and what died instantly. Do the same for all platforms, condense your reach down to 2 to 3 best performing platforms.
As for those starting afresh, what should you do? Simple. Take your offline experience and then go online.
Have a smart, qualitative approach to collect the data:
Interview your sales/business developers
These people literally live to bring aboard new business and will never shy away from giving you the answers if you ask the right questions. Which industry, city, sex, season, etc. has been the most effective in the last financial year, to start off with. And then curate smarter questions.
Question your customer support team
If they’re good at their job, they’ll know which customer’s grandmother went on a Christmas break to Bangalore, whose daughter got a new laptop for Diwali, or if Rahul cleared his driver’s test over the summer break.
Ask Them Directly — The customer
Not only are they right but pretty awesome at criticising products and telling if what you’re selling worth a dime. Measure the city you’ve sold the most in, the period during which the sales spiked, which SKU did brilliantly, what is their age, if they bought it for themselves or someone else, etc. Again, curate smarter questions.
If you have none of the above, then you can always:
Look Things Up Online
Skim through online resources like LinkedIn profiles, blogs, job listings, industry research, forums, Q&A sites, social media conversations, book reviews, and more to get a deeper knowledge of the consumers you target. Make sure the searching selection is only relevant to your industry and domain.
Purchase Existing Research
Yes, not everybody can afford it and neither is it a common habit in the Indian market but there are ventures out there, such as Nielsen and platform-specific learnings via Facebook Insights that facilitate this and give you exclusive access to granular data, such as — demographics, psychographics, buying habits, etc. of your niche.
2. Get to know your ideal consumer.
You can’t paint out a picture of every customer, so, you group them by creating archetypes. This is pretty fun. Suppose your brand sells LEDs direct to customers across the nation and now you’re converting the offline model to an online one. Who are you selling it to? It’s easy — The Bright Ones! Now the bright ones too can have various groups, such as the
· The Bright Ones in Delhi
· The Bright Ones in Mumbai
· The Bright Ones in Chennai
The list goes on but this helps you know exactly where the bright ones are coming from and which of them buy the most of your product.
Personify the Preferences
This is the main part, this is where you bring the ideal customer to life via their details — their age, location, relationship, what do they work as, how much they earn. Essentially, all the characteristics that are necessary to be looked at which enable them to purchase your product.
All of this results in you bringing your customer to life, visually, for your entire team to refer to.
Stitch a Story
Our state of mental and physical being is the outcome of the lives we’ve lived. The same goes for your customer. Presume and write them a background, how do they feel about pets, are they the head of their families, do they hold the spending power, what are their hobbies. Basically, everything that plays a factor in determining their affinity towards your product.
Got this sorted? Good. Now here’s what you need to do with it –
Figure out their Daily Problems
What are your customers struggling with daily? What ticks them off, do they need help with something, more importantly, what can you help them with? All of the above factors help you find this out. Find them, pen them down, get it ready for your content strategy.
Picture their Personality
Are they outspoken? social about their views? like to express themselves? Creative or logical? Knowing how they are will help you understand what they care about. If your content is what they care about, it will be liked, discussed and shared. Find them, pen them down, get it ready for your content strategy.
Imagine if you have a game you’re driving downloads for via app/play store. Here’s what a persona looks like after you’ve done your homework and generated a fair number of downloads –
Apart from these, keep a constant lookout for more data! The more data you have, the more flavors for your content. Focus on generating value for them and look how they transact with you, in every way!
3. Outreach doesn’t matter if your readers aren’t interested.
Majority industries face such a high failure rate on digital conversions because they don’t share intimacy with their audiences. So, neglect your intent to sell your product and intend on understanding what your content should say, show or speak about (refer to the last two points in the section above). Stop talking about your company, its offerings, and their features without knowing what your readers care about. Nobody cares unless the product is on Amazon, and even there everyone, including yourself and us, just wants to know the discount, the time delivery will take and if people liked it.
Here are a few common guidelines to consider before finalizing your strategy on content –
Now, this may not be true for all industries, especially commoditized, but people like other people because of their personalities and general wit. The same goes for brands. Be good at visually conveying the charm in your offerings but be better in reflecting your brand’s attitude, personality, and demeanor in everything that you do.
To remain simple in everything that you share, convey or opine over is the truest thrill of it all and what excites people. Think of the brands that impress you the most if you don’t believe me. They don’t unnecessarily complicate the brand’s identity by saying too much or going overboard with visuals. Know thy limit!
I don’t think this one needs any further explanation.
4. All of the above is to impact one and one thing only. Your sales.
Now that you know your customer, their preferences and the content you should market, follow this process to ramp up your orders from a 1 to 1000, and more.
Gather data to know how your revamped or new marketing strategy is working. This will answer the critical question — If it’s a step in the right direction or not. This can only be governed by numbers.
Data via Social Media
There are numerous tools such as — HootSuite, Buffer and Sprout Social that allow you to schedule, post and analyze your activity/stats on social media channels.
Data via Email Marketing & Newsletters
For emails, the go-to platform for creating, marketing and powerful automation of email campaigns while analyzing their results remains to be Mail Chimp.
Data via your Web Asset
Google Analytics is what completes the marketing funnel. Get your account activated before commencing work on any of the above platforms as it’ll help you to track and analyze your website’s traffic that’s generated by all your marketing activities.
This is the precise reason why media and marketing took a turn towards digital; the only medium that allows you to project, realize and optimize your reach and conversions.
This is the part where you take out the bad apples.
Be it the written content or its subject, the social media posts or your entire content approach, the design of the website or its experience, trust the data and revisit your strategy wherever you spot a vulnerability or a crooked execution.
Repeat to Optimise
While correcting the areas in the strategy that are pointed out by the numbers, start asking these questions that continually impact your targeting, execution, and results –
1. What keywords do your consumers use while searching for products/services in your industry? Now optimize.
2. Do your customers want to hear from the CEO or the creative guy sitting in a cubicle? The personas will help you understand who should be conversing from your end.
3. What do your customers binge on? Become that show on Netflix that audience just can’t do without.
4. Is your target market liking your competitors content better? More importantly, are you meticulously taking notes of it?
5. What leads your customer to commit and subscribe to your brand? Initially, it may have been the discount that you offered but eventually, they may have fallen in love with your regular, new SKUs or just the newsletters you write. Keep a constant check on this.
Okay, so, this is where I shut my pie hole till the next one.
Got questions about your brand’s approach to marketing and content? We’re available right here — firstname.lastname@example.org
Coffee’s always on us!