The sheer quantity of channels and content that consumers have at their disposal does not necessarily make the life of a marketer any easier. How do you grab the attention of customers, current or future, and ensure that they remain involved in your brand or company? Four steps towards getting noticed in the content deluge.
There are now as many as 1 billion websites (as of August 2016). Each day, we produce content that is just as great in volume as the entire content of the National Library of the Netherlands in the Hague, and the use of social media such has Facebook has skyrocketed. In other words, the range is enormous and everyone is running out of time. As a marketer, it is crucial to try to get your message across
Step 1: Back to basics
To successfully manage this, you first need to go ‘back to basics’, returning to the original strategy and vision. What do you stand for as an organisation, what vision do you have of the world, and how do you shape it? It may seem obvious, but I know very few companies in which all employees would answer this question in the same way. The key question is: can everyone in the organisation describe, in a complete sentence, what the vision and strategy are and why they are key? See how the employees at online fashion retailer Zappos answer this question – this is what you are aiming for.
A number of themes are at play here, such as:
- Establish what is relevant to your customers
- Describe your ideal customer
- Decide what is crucial here
- Give your strategy a clear voice
Step 2: Deciding on a target group
Once you’ve sorted that out, you have reached the next question: who are we doing it for? Which target groups do we want to appeal to, and what value are we creating for them? In other words, which problem are we solving for them?
A Value Proposition workshop in which these questions are answered can help to create clarity. An example of a widely-used tool can be found below:
You can use this model to determine what your core user group is and what problem you are solving for them. Imagine your customer target group is building contractors. Their primary concern is that construction is completed on time, because they are paid according to each stage finished by the deadline. Their worry, therefore, is that equipment may break or go missing, causing the work to fall behind schedule. The solution is quick replacement with the newest, best tools. The gain you may offer is a website with which the solution can be easily managed. This means that the product is an online ordering system. In this way, you can fill in the canvas, step by step.
Step 3: Deciding on personalities and content
You then need to describe the various personalities involved in the target group: a building contractor focusing on offices has different priorities from somebody who primarily builds houses. Find out more about the experience of these sectors by answering the following questions:
- What is important for them now, at this moment in time?
- What does success look like for them?
- What might be preventing them from buying from us?
- How do they collect information for a possible purchase?
- How do they reach a decision?
This helps you to add detail to each individual, including the digital experiences that go along with it (touchpoints).
It goes even deeper than creating customer experience maps, displaying a (digital) customer journey along with the experiences of customers based on answers to questions such as:
- Why are they buying from us?
- What is the most critical factor that differentiates us from the competition?
- If they were to recommend us, what would they say?
- What are the three best companies they know?
- Why or how did we make the customer happy?
The aim of this drill is to work out the characteristics of your perfect customer: a customer that buys from you and is prepared to promote you to a third party (referrals).
Once all that has been made clear, it is time to work out what you will create in terms of valuable content to grab the attention of the target group.
Content is relevant for each step of the customer journey. It must, of course, be linked with the product and the potential customer, but must also be linked with the stage of the customer journey in which it can be found. If customers are busy comparing brands, content that is focused on getting to know the brand and building up trust is important. During the sales stage, customers may actually be looking to try out the product, while after the purchase has been made, content that is focused on cross-selling has the most chance of success.
Your organisation, the customer journey, and appropriate content
The content is geared towards and relevant to the target group. This means that the next question is: through which channels are we going to reach our potential or current customers? This is the point at which you want to grab the attention of your target group(s). Choosing the right channels is a critical success factor here, which, of course, is highly influenced by the target group. You would approach baby boomers differently to people from Generation Y.
Trends also have a role to play. An example of this is mobile-first, which a number of market analysts (Gartner, Forrester) predict will soon become mobile-only. At the same time, the consumption of video content is skyrocketing, and influencers on social media are becoming more decisive for the success of both established and new brands.
In short, these developments that rely heavily on technological innovations (5G mobile internet, image quality of mobile devices) have a huge influence on the choices to be made as regards distributing your content.
Step 4: Knowledge is power
The final stage is finding out what your content has achieved in the target group. The impact can be determined from a range of sources, from the financial data to the CRM system, and, of course, the marketing tools. This allows employees to independently make choices on how to optimise the customer experience, based on facts and the core values that you hold as an organisation. And this brings us back to our point at the start of the article:
What do you stand for as an organisation, what vision do you have of the world, and how do you shape it? And most importantly: Why is that important to you?