In 2016, the most dangerous place to stand is the middle of the road. The time has come to present your brand more bravely and boldly than ever before. Analytics and omnichannel research can now identify audiences with more precision so your content can unleash immense and untapped purchasing power. You will need content that can grab attention despite the modern-day onslaught of distractions.
Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer for MarketingProfs, outlined B2B’s biggest problems at the Inbound 2015. She covered how content marketing can be more engaging, a top challenge for marketers over the past five years. More than three out of four B2B organizations (76 percent) plan on producing more content in 2016. More than half (51 percent) intend to spend more of their budgets in creating it. At the same time, only 30 percent know that their content is effective. The way to know is to be braver and bolder. Here are 10 suggestions for improving your content in 2016.
1. Tell a Bigger Story.
Wherever you were at the end of 2015, think bigger. Put your brand in the context of a bigger story. A good example is Blue Bottle Coffee. Their About Us page details how coffee came to Vienna, beginning with wars in the 17th century. This indicates to the audience that Blue Bottle is serious about coffee. The brand experience is enhanced with unique offerings like an online course on how to make the perfect cup of coffee.
2. Be Braver in Marketing Choices.
Entertainment has value, but engaging content has to go deeper. In 2016, the focus will shift to genuine content which is useful, relevant and adds value to customers’ lives. A braver voice will be your key differentiator amid vast amounts of the mediocre content.
3. Speak with a Bolder Voice.
There’s no better example of a bold brand than the fitness content website Greatist.com. The site secured 10 million subscribers in 4 years by disrupting industry fairy tales. Success stories tend to fall back into the pattern of “Here’s the problem, here’s our solution, now everything is awesome.” Greatist upends the status quo with deeper stories on the challenges that remain, especially in terms of weight loss and body image.
4. Meet the Critics Head On.
Social media is rife with rumors and misinformation. Some industry experts will have opinions that conflict with your basic brand message. Don’t ignore your critics; answer them with transparency and humility. A great example is Toyota’s response to Elon Musk, who said hydrogen fuel cell cars were just marketing with no substance. As Handley pointed out, Musk actually called it “bullsh*t,” so Toyota used that as a launching point for their mini-documentary, “Fueled by bullsh*t.” They turned the conversation around.
5. Improve Your Story-telling.
Effective story-telling puts your business in a context that consumers care about. It changes a purchase into an affirmation of belonging. Handley referred to the Significant Object Experiment, in which insignificant objects were sold on eBay with personal stories attached to them. The lowest selling object doubled the investment. The average ROI overall was 27 times the cost of the objects. Great stories convert directly into revenue.
6. Be More Generous.
MailChimp has become an authority in the marketing space by offering businesses, not just customers, the gift of clear instruction on valuable business topics. They have made themselves a resource, encouraging customers to join their community. By being generous with critical information, Mailchimp makes their readers want to become customers, and successful customers are long-term brand supporters.
7. Update Your Personas for the Buyer’s Journey.
Developing personas for the buyer’s journey must be an ongoing project. Personas evolve and you’ll need to evolve content to accelerate customers along the buyer’s journey. The key is understanding what different buyer personas are considered to be of deep value. Deep value makes smarter customers who make better buying decisions.
8. Own the conversation.
What does a startup mattress company blog about? The company Casper decided it meant creating and owning a new category of content: the world of sleep and wakefulness research. They launched the online magazine Van Winkle’s to be the go-to authority on the subject. Great brands don’t just ride cultural shifts, they create them.
9. Invite Customers to the Party.
Your brand’s story does more than set you apart. It defines who you want to build a community with on a grand scale. Many people may not be comfortable with your marketing and that’s OK. The goal of your content shouldn’t be to move units, but to establish a template for a lifestyle. It should feel like a collaborative effort between your company’s leadership and your preferred audience. Create the community that you want live in and your customers will invite their friends to join in on the party.
10. Involve the Entire Organization.
Great content lifts everyone who touches it. Employee-created content boosts morale and affirms your brand’s authenticity. After the content is released, employees can benefit personally from sharing great content along their own private social networks. Make sure you communicate clearly what’s coming out on which channel. Employee-driven social sharing multiplies your content’s reach exponentially and improves morale with each Like and Favorite.
These techniques involve whole-body marketing. It will take your brain (to come up with a bigger story about your brand), your heart (to be brave about breaking into new territory), and your gut (to boldly choose the topics that move your audience).
Contact Novation Consulting for insights that help you grow, disrupt, and be yourself, only better. We work with clients from every continent to share knowledge, ideas, and energy. As an extension of your business, we work seamlessly together to create research-centric marketing solutions. It’s your brand. Making sure that your brand connects with your audience is our business.