If there was a golden trifecta that could truly move the needle in your business, you’d want to read about the details, right?
Successful marketers today use a powerful 1-2-3 mix of words, tools, and practices that can dramatically improve your brand presence, build an audience, and create a marketing machine built to last.
If you are trying to increase the marketing power of your business you’re probably very interested in this mix.
So without any further delay, let’s get to it …
1. Why Content is Still King.
Some of you might be aware of David Ogilvy and his “Guinness Guide to Oysters.” The ad is well designed and packed with information, but what’s so great about this “Oyster” ad?
He took something fairly ordinary and made it interesting, all while subtly suggesting bivalve lovers might pair oysters with a dark, malty brew.
I mean, who doesn’t want to wash down a slimy oyster with a black brew? Truth is, each is an acquired taste and a fairly small group will actually go for the two together, but that’s the brilliance of the ad really.
Ogilvy produced a non-pushy type of advertorial that generates interest because it’s more about teaching, engaging, and entertaining, but it’s also focused on a select audience.
If you were a 1950s oyster-loving bar fly, or executive, or woman who couldn’t get enough of the slimy things … you might envision yourself washing down briny bivalve mollusks with a cold Guinness Extra Stout … instead of your usual swill.
Even though the beer is not the star, you want to try that Guinness. I do, right now. After all, “ALL OYSTERS taste their best when washed down with drafts of Guinness.” So says the ad.
For the sake of argument, I’ll call this Content Marketing.
According to the Content Marketing Institute: Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
You may have also heard of John Deer’s “The Furrow“ and know about corporate-owned magazines and soap operas … all forms of Content Marketing.
This oyster guide—the first in a series with different beer-food pairings—was a 1950s form of content that was marketed in a different way, but unlike Mr. Ogilvy we have amazing and inexpensive tools and technologies at our disposal.
Amazing and inexpensive ways to build your brand, get Google to love you, and find more customers, but many companies and organizations still don’t do modern content marketing.
2. Our Chief Distraction (and a Necessary Part of Your Marketing Arsenal).
On a recent highway trip I was in the passenger seat counting the number of people focused on their devices, not the road. I’d say three out of 10 people had their eyes on a device, even the guy picking his nose.
If these people are not texting, I imagine they’re probably on some form of social media. This is why I’m anxiously awaiting that damn Google car.
But the fact is, people are immersed in the world of online social. You don’t need me to tell you that this is where everyone’s eyes are. I know… but if you are in business, and you are trying to use social to improve your bottom line, I want you to think about the possibilities that go light-years beyond mere interaction.
How do you go beyond mere interaction on social media? Well, there are rules you’d be wise to follow…
I. Understand your brand and your audience
In Gini Dietrich’s excellent book, “Spin Sucks” she states the following:
“The future of communications is to work with a team that has a deep understanding of your brand so they can represent you live.” She goes on to explain that future online media is about …
a. customer experience;
b. real-time marketing;
c. tangible results, and;
d. evolving content.
Gini mentions brands like Honda and Oreo, that excel at social because they are honest, attentive, and active on the channels their customers are on. They have also built an internal culture—a team with “a deep understanding of the brand.”
According to Jay Baer…
“The goals of social media are participation, then behavior.” And to create the right atmosphere on your social channels, you must have a deep understanding of your brand.” To do this, you need to be completely dialed-in to your brand and your audience.
Here’s an example from the real-world you and I inhabit. Ryan Hanley is practicing the art of “Content Warfare” daily, and guess what? He’s winning. I would say he’s rocking it in a big way, but why is solo practitioner Ryan in such a beautiful groove, you ask? Simple. His brand message is crystal clear and he understands his audience. (He may also love them.)
Study how he engages with his audience. Ryan is an excellent example of an individual growing a business and getting social right. To get more into the “why” of Ryan and Jay and Gini getting it all so right … well … just keep reading …
II. Understand true reach and potential reach
There will soon be 1,087 social networks, or something like that, and while I think that increasing frequency and channels (as long as you can manage the channels) is a good thing, it’s insanely easy—even for a big brand—to lose focus on the how, what, and why of social.
Let me explain. Social is like a happy little helper medium with rather wobbly legs if left standing on its own. It’s basically a lead-in pointing to your site, blog, email list, etc. An amazingly valuable pipeline, but one that needs strategy and focus. Without strategy and focus you’ll have a massive social media headache and it will suck the life blood right out of you because you’re getting nowhere.
Your blog = True reach. A solid way to truly reach people, especially if they subscribe through email.
Your social accounts = potential reach. Plus, the social landscape can be confusing.
There’s a giant chasm between the two…
With social, you need multiple touch points like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter; you should be in touch with your audience (and potential audience); and must have extreme FOCUS. Focus that builds a marketing machine, built to please in a slow burn process akin to a marathon. But again, social can easily become a marketer’s chief distraction, if not done right.
So, let’s summarize what we have so far…
1. An old practice, using new tools: Content Marketing.
2. The “thing” everyone’s eyes are glued to: Social.
So, what IS the difference between Content Marketing and Social Media?
For this, we’ll go back to Jay Baer …
“The goals of content marketing are consumption, then behavior.”
“The goals of social media are participation, then behavior.”
But I like this waaaaaaaaaaaaay better …
“Content marketing is the new brochure.”
“Social media as the new telephone.”
In my world they are both about:
a. Nurturing and sustaining an online content transformation, then;
b. Creating an internal culture that supports it. In other words, know your brand, even if it’s a culture of one.
This is what companies and organizations and small firms must do to compete and grow.
3. An Age-Old Practice That Has Always Worked, and Always Will Work.
Can you describe an age-old practice that brings people in? Is an amazing way to attract and engage an audience of any size? And helps brand-building like no other?
If you guessed story, you win a gold star. And getting your story right could be the best thing you ever do. Funny, heartfelt, honest … story sticks, but you’re not trying to win the Pulitzer. All you need is a consistent, engaging narrative, told to your audience, with honesty and filled with value.
Danny Brown is absolutely brilliant at this. If you look at his diverse mix of posts, you’ll understand what I’m saying here—heartfelt story mixed with tremendous value and insight.
And really, story is everything you do to market your company or organization. That paragraph on your website, page in your latest brochure, or your most recent blog post—story, story, and more story. It’s what your audience or potential fans “hear” from you on social and what makes them decide to make a move, share with others, or simply ignore.
Quality story-telling is always effective and it humanizes your brand.
According to Gary Vaynerchuk, “A story is at its best when it’s not intrusive, when it brings value to a platform’s consumers, and when it fits in as a natural step along the customer’s path to making a purchase.”
And when you use …
3. story …
… together, you need to think about the path in Gary’s quote above.
Why? Because your potential audience could be pretty darn big and you might be ignoring many potential readers, fans and customers … all in various stages. You need to think about everyone, not just those ready to buy your stuff.
Lisa Gerber wrote a post on this very topic and I think it’s great way to bring together content, social and story.
In her post you have:
1. Peeps who are not aware of you, but need what you have to offer.
2. Those thinking about doing business with you.
3. The doers, more than ready to buy, and …
4. Those loyal to your cause, who’ve already done business with you.
You can read her post here. It kinda sums up what I’ve detailed above: Knowing your brand is about knowing your audience and you need to think more about them first. Then you come up with a clear plan that is about the beautiful trifecta mentioned in the title.
The mix of Content + Social + Story becomes…
a more personal way to do business;
a more effective way to build brand awareness;
and it’s how you get people to pay attention, like you and maybe even buy from you.
Content is website copy, brochures, direct mail, and blogging.
Social is a mix of channels that require balance, focus and being in tune with your audience. It requires constant attention and incremental progress, like a slow drip.
Story is how you frame it all—your winning script.
Populate social with the right stuff, know your audience, and earn enough attention and loyalty where they might go to your blog or site, then they might go to the most reliable channels of all … you know? Give you a call or shoot you an email.
Here’s what great brands do:
They’re attentive, transparent, and active on the social networks their clients are on. They’ve also built an internal culture around this 1-2-3 magic.
But, what about your small business?
You can do the same in your own little way. Create a space that produces smart, useful, informative, and entertaining content always worth consuming, then use the 1-2-3 combo to deliver.
Social is not a broadcast channel…
It’s a personal communication tool and an amazing utility.
But social needs great Content to work.
Great content is Story.
…and great content needs social to move, baby.
3 Steps to Dramatically Improve Your Marketing…
So, how do you use Content, Social, and Story to move the needle in your business?
1. Focus on the buyer. Look at all your content. Remove words like “we” and “our” (thanks, Gini). Re-write your story from the customer’s perspective and use their language.
2. Strategize, listen, learn. Wash, rinse, repeat. (this is one place where social really shines).
3. Create a platform that “lives and breathes.” Provide value, entertain, inform, inspire. Create conversations.
4. Add an ounce of passion.
5. Work to be an authority in your field.
6. Focus on the long-term, and think like a marathoner, not Usain Bolt.
7. And most of all … think like a consumer. That’s what David Ogilvy did 🙂
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