Content – Marketing Must Have

#ContentMarketing

marketing on and off lineMany companies today are tired of SEO, they don’t like it, don’t trust it and think it too costly for the return they see on their investment. It’s very difficult to value a link from another website or mention of a company on social media. Yet without SEO of some kind many companies would disappear from web results and that would damage their profits.

What most companies (whether small, medium or large, privately owned, sole owner or corporation) fail to remember is that even if you don’t have to rely on web traffic to generate leads, people want to research you on line. To allow people to do that you have to have a visible (easy to find) web presence.

Visible Web Presence

The question then is, what is a visible web presence? Research done by Google and quite a few others shows that when people are making a buying decision they look for on line reviews, company and industry blogs, news stories and comments on social media. They may also go to question and answer sites like Quora and Yahoo Answers to either ask a question or, look at answers to already existing questions.

For the company, that means you must have at a minimum, a well-designed and informative blog. A review profile on the most popular review sites like Yelp, Merchant Circle and G+. You need social media profiles on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube/Pinterest.

You’ll need listings in the major directories such as Yellow Pages, DexKnows, Brownbook and Manta. All of these listings need to match, that is the information should match. Same address, same business name, same telephone number.

All of the above falls under the remit of SEO which at its heart is about making your website visible to as many people as possible when they wanted to buy/find your type of products or services.

Content Marketing

The new buzz word is ‘content marketing’ although to be truthful for those in the know, it’s not a new buzz word at all. It has, or at least should have been at the heart of ALL marketing. Not just on line, it should be at the heart of any marketing you do, no matter where you do it.

An image, one without explanatory text, is still content. It should inform, entertain, surprise or engage, if it doesn’t it’s a waste of time and money, no matter how colourful, no matter how many design awards it gets.
Those last eight words are at the bottom of most problems when it comes to marketing. Companies let their collective egos get in the way, designers too. An award winning ad is useless in the real world if it doesn’t bring in business. If ads were judged and won awards by how much business they bring in, then we’d see a very different list of winners.

Content is what both consumers and search engines are looking for. Content sells your products, your services and your brand. Content should elicit emotion, emotion is what prompts us to action.

Marketing with Emotion

emotional marketing catIf you think about why we buy, there’s always an element of emotion in the equation. Without it, we find it very difficult to actually make decisions. Psychologists have found that where a person suffers brain damage to the emotional center of the brain, they lose the ability to make decisions. It seems that emotion allows us to place a value on an action or outcome. That value is what decides us one way or another. I’m sure you’ve heard the theory that people decide based on whether they have an ‘away from’ or ‘towards’ mind set. Those with an ‘away from’ mind set make decisions based on ‘moving away’ from pain or negatives. Those with a ‘towards’ mind set make decisions based moving towards something they find pleasurable.

Which is why many ads warn us we need the product or service to ‘save us’ (move away from) something. Look at cleaning products, we buy things based on either protecting us from germs and bacteria. Or we buy them based on how ‘fresh’ we/it will smell and therefore how well we’ll appear to others.

When deciding on the content you will either commission or produce you need to think about what emotion you want to create. Look at newspaper headlines, the more emotional they are, the more they catch the eye. Curiosity is an emotional response that ads use when they create intriguing headlines that seem to make no sense, your curiosity prompts you to read what follows. As your emotional radar has already been primed, you’re more likely to accept whatever emotion is being highlighted and then to act.

Generally speaking it’s better to use positive emotions. Sometimes though, horror and shock can work too, depending on what outcome you want. This book turned documentary is a case in point.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7iW1SHPgUAQ
Watch the video or read the book, you’ll never look at disaster in the same way again!

Pictures of kittens are one of the most shared images on Facebook, they’re so cute and cuddly, they elicit feelings of love and protection. Many advertiser use animals or small children to create that emotional bond.

What does a cute little girl have to do with a bank? Nothing really but this advert uses storytelling from the perspective of the child to get their message across.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLHAgQ0E43E
This bank uses that emotional response to offset the very bad reputation banks in general have after the global financial meltdown, most attribute to banks being ‘greedy’
.
Insurance – a dull subject you might think. Take a look at this advert, where humour and cuteness combined with storytelling result in adverts that are sometimes better than the TV shows they intersect.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=so6dZ4zO20A

By now you may have spotted a theme – marketing at its very best is telling a story that elicits an emotional response that triggers a physical action (a call to action).

Some content is provided by consumers and you as a business have no control over what they provide. The most usual and influential content is in the form of reviews. These too tell a story, they tell the story of a real consumers experience with that company.

Good reviews where the average rating is 4 to 5 stars will often get a click through, even if the rank of the link is number 5. So great reviews can help you steal clicks from a higher ranked competitor, where they either have no reviews or, their reviews are less than 4 star.

Questions and answers are another form of ‘user generated content’ and if possible, you should be on the most popular Q&A platforms so you can join the conversation. Then there are comments posted on your blog, industry blogs and ‘fan’ blogs.

The Marketing Story

Marketing your business by telling a story is not new, since trade began and cavemen wanted the best club, the most successful sellers have always been the best storytellers. When we listen to a good story, we become emotionally involved. When we become emotionally involved we remember the story. When we remember the story, we remember the brand. When we remember the brand and have a positive association we’re more likely to trust the brand. When we trust the brand, we’re more likely to do business with the brand.

When you’re deciding on the content you want to post on line (or off line in magazines, flyers, billboards, newspapers or anywhere else) you need to decide what story you want to tell. What emotional response you want and what action you want to happen as a result of that emotion.

You can tell a story many ways a cartoon can tell a story.

trying to do it all

What does this cartoon say to you?

Of course, there’s a problem with images we interpret them based on our own experiences and biases, so we can’t always guarantee that the person looking at the image ‘gets’ our message. that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use them, just that you should make them as emotional and explicit as possible (in this context, explicit in meaning not as in adult :-))

Not only do you need to know what story you’re going to tell and what response or action you’re trying to generate, you need to know to whom you’re telling the story. Who’s it aimed at? You’d tell a very different story to a young 25 to 30 yr old guy buying a car to the story you’d tell to a busy Mother of three in her mid-thirties.

One might want image and speed, the other safety, reliability and economy. I’ll leave you to decide which would want which 🙂

Marketing, wherever you do it, is about emotional content that tells a story and gets a reaction.

Summary
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Content Marketing - why you must do it and why
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Content and storytelling, the pillars of great advertising campaigns and exactly what you need to do well on the web. Get emotional and get sales.
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