Since the sixteenth century, when the word “marketing” came into existence and was used to refer to the process of buying and selling at a market, marketing has always been about establishing relationships. Whether through advertising, branding or packaging, each process of marketing seeks out to connect and form a relationship with an audience.
And when it comes to connecting with any given audience, whether your buyer or customer, content is the single and most potent tool, which has been used since centuries. So when you see a hawker shouting about his product in your local market, that is also a content and when you see a poster or flyer of a new Broadway show in town, that is again content, trying to connect with you, as an audience.
This has been the equation since ages, using content to form a relationship or establishing a connection between a buyer and seller. Initially, the role of technology was to disseminate content in marketing, but as technology evolved, it also started giving feedback on how content has been received by the audience.
Nothing much has changed till this date in terms of marketing and content. When you see terms like SEO, SEM, Google Analytics etc used in the context of marketing, these are simply modern tools to promote content or give feedback on how your content has been received. But sometimes marketing professionals get so caught up in these jargons that they seem to put content in the backseat of their marketing efforts and steer their campaigns just on the basis of Optimization, SEO, SEM or analytics. And when that happens, you can easily imagine what kind of connection would be formed with their audience.
Just to clarify, I am not minimizing the importance of these tools. Because these tools are really important when you want your content to reach the right audience. What I am trying to push here is the importance of content in your marketing plan. Without having the right content in place, even if you try to push your marketing agenda using digital tools, that’s not going to ring a bell for your customers.
Now coming towards another important term, which is really a nightmare for every marketing person. Engagement. Driving an engagement with content is the most difficult challenge every marketer is facing these days. Thanks to the above mentioned digital tools, we can today clearly assess which content is getting engagement and which is getting ignored.
So why is this engagement important for marketing? Or should I ask, why content is important to get you quality engagement?
If your content is really good, your audience will definitely engage with it. But pushing for engagement without having the right content in place is like presenting an opera audience with a juggling act. You might get a good engagement but it would be nothing any marketer would look forward to. And let’s not forget, one can hope for conversions only if there is a quality engagement from the audience.
If you follow social media, especially Twitter, then chances are you must have come across the most retweeted tweet ever, by Ellen Degeneres during Academy Awards in 2014. It had nothing remarkable, just a group selfie with other stars like Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence to name a few. And her tweet held no. 1 position for more than 3 years. That tweet connected with everyone because of celebrity brand power and humor.
For three years, she was the queen of the most retweeted tweet ever. But as they say, all good things must come to an end, she was dethroned by someone completely unknown, a teenager named Carter Wilkerson! In April of 2017, Carter tweeted to Wendy’s asking how many retweets he would need for a year of free chicken nuggets. To which Wendy’s replied 18 million. And without hoping much, Carter took a screenshot of that message and asked for help from his friends.
Now, you might think, what is so special about it? Teenagers do mostly this kind of stuff. But that tweet had a snowball effect and it became the most retweeted tweet ever in the history of Twitter. No brand power, no technical insights for keywords and no marketing budget. Still, that tweet went on to create history!
That is one example of viral content for you, where a content without any predefined agenda or goals, successfully manages to connect with an audience and spreads like a wildfire.
Many marketers try to duplicate this kind feat by putting all kind of technology at their disposal to create a successful viral content for their brands. Many fail but few succeed. And those who succeed, they do because they put all kind of technical insights into the content creation and then deploying that content with technology.
Case in point, Super Bowl commercials. Every year, you get to witness some of the best content, crafted by the most creative brains for successful brands. And if you have seen these commercials, you would agree. They’re funny, they entertain and they are fresh. You wouldn't find any stale ideas there. And most of these content spread on its own, become viral after the first initial push by the brands.
If we had to take just lessons from the success of Super Bowl Commercials, it would be just this, we should aspire to create content which takes a simple and fresh approach in presenting big ideas. And they should be entertaining also. That can only be achieved if you put your audience’s interest first instead of your brand while creating your content.
If you find yourself struggling with this question, just ask yourself these question -
If in all these questions, you’re going to put yourself first, then how can you expect anything different from your audience?
Good content breaks down all the barrier and establishes a strong connection with your audience. [That’s engagement]. And with that connection, your audience starts trusting you and in the process, they decide to form a relationship with you, by availing your services. And that’s the end goal, conversion.
For a quick reference remember this: Good Content > Engagement > Conversion
As you can see, nothing has changed since the sixteenth century when it comes to marketing. A hawker shouting about his product, capturing attention, drawing customers and then selling his stuff OR a brand creating really good content, capturing attention, driving engagement and then conversion. Nothing much has changed. Instead of the physical world, today’s marketplace is in the digital world. Instead of crowds, we have online users. Instead of hawkers screaming and walls plastered with posters, we have social media, our inboxes, and world wide web.
With the basic philosophy of the marketing remaining broadly same, technology has empowered both buyers and sellers. For buyers [or Customers], they neither have to go to a crowded market anymore for checking out stuff they want to buy, nor they have to be dependent on just one location, their favorite seller or pay a price without a comparison. In short, that’s what an empowered buyer looks like.
For sellers [or Businesses], well they’re empowered with all kind of knowledge about their buyers, what they do, what time of the day they are most vulnerable to spend, which month of the year they are going to spend even more, what are their preferences and what products they are looking at right now, which competitors are trying to poach their customer and so on.
And technology makes this possible. Both for buyers and sellers. But remember, these are just extra information and insights, provided by technology. Thanks to our digital world. But this insight gathering is not marketing. Although both buyer and seller are better informed about each other now, rules of the game haven’t changed much. In order to form a relationship and connect, the seller must reach out to buyers with the right content.
And those businesses which utilize these insights while crafting the right content for their customers usually wins the marketing game of today.
Now that the importance of content in marketing has been established, let’s move one step further and analyze, which content connects really well and accomplishes the task of engagement with their customers.
Here, we can safely assume, that in today’s market, whatever services you are offering, someone else is offering it better and cheaper. That’s competition. And technology makes competition tougher because everyone is now practically screaming their messages to your customers. You can easily imagine the plight of your customer when he is the target of all the tsunami of information from almost every kind of businesses, not just you and your competition. And that’s when, just as a defense mechanism, he starts shutting out every message he is exposed to.
Till now, I painted a rosy picture in front of you. And in that picture, all you had to do was to create a good content and win over your customer. But we are not living in that reality anymore. In this reality, we have competition, profits and customers to manage.
And that’s where the power of the story comes into the picture. To clear your customer’s mind of all the clutter, create a special place for your brand in his mind and help you win his trust and make a connection, the story is the ultimate tool.
And the story is not something which marketers invented today, to clear the clutter and make their life easier. Every culture has used stories to propagate information, bring together families and disseminate information since millennia. And why stories are so effective for us? Well, researchers have started confirming only now, which people suspected earlier when they used to listen to their grandma’s stories. That their grandma's stories used to take them into a different world altogether. And you wouldn’t be wrong if you also experienced this kind of magical transportation into a different realm while listening to your grandma's story.
Neuroscientists confirm that stories light up exactly those areas of our brain which would have been otherwise lit when exposed to those in reality. Say for example, if you’re listening to a story about a frightening tiger with burning amber red eyes and who’s roaring with hunger, about to pounce on you and tore you up in pieces, your brain will light up those areas which in a normal circumstance would have been lit when you would have faced a real tiger. All alone and struggling to save your life.
Or when you are listening to a story about a cute baby, your brain will start firing up neurons in those areas which otherwise would have been activated when you were holding a baby. Your brain doesn’t differentiate between real and imagined.
Also, when you’re in the world of the story, your rational mind takes a back seat and you would believe everything from the story. That’s why, when you come across a cat who was talking in some story is believable for our mind. It is the convincing power of a story, which diffuses a forever alert, logical and rational mind and takes you in a zone where everything is possible.
And marketers have been trying to exploit this side of our brain since the advent of advertising.
But now the technology makes everything possible, whether it’s about the insights of your audience or presenting your story in the most convincing manner. You are limited only by your imagination. And now those marketers who use insights derived from technology to present their story in the most believable manner to their audience, they can hope to carve out a special place in the mind of their customers. Something which their competition can only envy and hope to achieve.
If I have been able to hold your attention this long, chances are, the marketer inside you must be asking some questions by now! How can you use the power of storytelling to help your business? Which type of content is right for you? How can you position your content for social media?
But before we delve deeper into these topics, just one simple fact here. 2019 is just around the corner. And with technical innovation is every other area of our life, content creation has taken a whole new dimension today.
Just imagine, when the printing press was invented, what kind of rage it would have been to make a poster and paste it on a wall. Or when the camera came into existence, how interesting it would have been to look at the real captured images instead of paintings in the advertisement. Or watching TV commercials in the golden days of advertising, interesting? Right?
With all these changes, especially in media, today’s audience wants to consume content in the most effortless manner, which means, writing the most brilliant line and using an excellent background color is not going to make it today for your content. The only thing which works today, as per research and latest reports are videos.
And talking about videos, every marketer has already started exploring ways to create their video campaigns and how to use it effectively. This is really an exciting moment in today's’ marketing. Now, more than ever, you are going to be judged on the basis of your content. And you cannot afford to bore your customers. This opens a whole new area of possibilities also, for everyone. Now anyone with a great content can capture their customer’s imagination. This is your moment to shine and get noticed!
But these exciting times also bring unseen challenges. The first and foremost being, since everyone is a content creator today, what goals should you try to achieve using videos? And what kind of content goes well with video marketing campaigns on social media? How well can you implement your campaign to get the best return?
Now I am sure, you will totally relate with me here that these topics demand a nice treatment and a deeper analysis. So just to give a small pause here, and to help you retain crucial insights in terms of content and marketing, allow me to take you through a nice and interesting journey, where you will get answers to all your question. Below you will find a quick link to an interesting book which will answer all your queries. It will also show you how to plan your goals and craft your content keeping your goals clear in mind. And I have also shared simple ways in which you can be a great storyteller. Have a look at this ebook if you are curious to know more about the process of storytelling and crafting your video content for social media.
Download Free eBook - How To Increase Leads Using Storytelling Educational Videos On Social Media?
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