By Georgie Gallagher
Is marketing dead?
In today's over-communicated society, how do you make your marketing work for you? How do the myriad of tools available out there actually produce tangible results for you? Which tools should you be using? And why should you be using them?
The average Westerner sees a brand (sometimes the same one repeatedly) 3,000 times a day according to The Economist (Feb 2014). With the bombardment we receive from all media, this figure is probably pretty accurate.
In a dusty old copy of Guerrilla Marketing Attack by Jay Conrad Levinson, it says that in 1989 a person had to see your brand 27 times to notice you 9 times. Their research showed that a customer had to see your brand 9 times before they actually bought from you. This was in an era where people weren't exposed to the level of marketing we are exposed to today. The online world hadn't even begun.
So I wonder what this figure would be in today's society? How many times would someone need to see your brand to feel comfortable to engage you or do business with you? How on earth do you make your brand stand out when consumers are literally bombarded with thousands of brands a day? How do people remember who you are?
How do small and medium sized businesses stand a chance?
The answer appears to be in our online content.
Seth Godin, the marketing guru, is quoted as saying that 'content marketing is all the marketing that's left'. He saw how the new revolution of the internet was turning our traditional marketing and sales funnel on its head.
What is content marketing?
" Content marketing is the art of creating, curating and distributing valuable content, combined with the science of measuring its impact on awareness, lead generation and customer acquisition". Eloqua.com
The premise is that delivering meaningful, useful content and helping solve people's problems will ultimately lead to loyalty to your brand and over time it will result in the purchase of your products and services. We do this through blogs, white papers, videos and enewsletters and by sharing this information on social media platforms.
But does it really work?
Why I'm now a convert.
I must say that I have taken a cautious approach to online and social marketing and all its promises. It can be a huge waste of time and resources. And with people jumping on each new social platform as it pops up - I've seen plenty of work done for little return.
But I now get it. Especially as part of a strategic content marketing approach. And the following discussion helps me explain why.
The game changer for me has been that as of September 2013, Google has updated its algorithm to be more responsive to natural language. This was called the Hummingbird update. Google is always looking for the most relevant, current information for a given topic to respond to a search query. It's searching for answers that relate to conversational language. As we're doing more search by phone, this is becoming increasingly important.
So if you're answering the questions people are asking, and you're appearing in several places online like your social media and within your website, then you'll be popping up in their searches.
And remember most people have done the majority of their homework before they even contact you so search results matter.
Over time, with a consistent strategy, you'll be earning the trust of many potential clients that you don't even know exist. And when they have a need for your tool, they'll have seen your brand many times - and feel comfortable to contact you and gets quote.
So is marketing dead?
No. Some of our traditional marketing tools may need to be mothballed but there is still a need for a thorough strategic marketing plan - however now it must include a detailed and manageable content marketing strategy.
How to get started.
- Find out what social media your target audience are on and the language/search terms they are using.
- Do a few social media very well - If you aren't doing it now, don't try and do it all a once. LinkedIn is a recognised business platform that many people are comfortable with, is here to stay and is perfect for B2B. Facebook is still great for consumer products. Twitter and Instagram are both great visual tools. Whatever you use, make it fit with your brand and know what your potential clients are using.
- Set your social media guidelines - How are you going to manage content? How do you respond when you make a mistake? How do you manage criticism? Who will respond 7 days a week?
- Make the right impression - Ensure all your team members who are representing your business look professional. Read their bios. Check their mug shots!
- Make your content simple to share to others.
- Ensure you can measure what you're doing - Social: shares, likes, discussions etc, Website Metrics: traffic, time spent on site, conversions. Email: open rates, click throughs etc
- Automate where possible.
- Don't sell - this is an opportunity to showcase your brand and invite them to engage with you more closely in the future so your call to actions are along the lines of - If you found this useful, share it with your colleagues. Want more? Sign up to our (relevant) newsletter. Etc. Build trust and then ask them to do business with you.
I'll be writing more about Content Marketing Strategies in the future. If you like this, or know someone else who might like a read, please share.
Georgie Gallagher is the founder of Wildmoon, a specialist consultancy focussing on brand development, marketing strategy, marketing communications and strategic content marketing for SMB's.