Last week I was giving a presentation about marketing–specifically content marketing. This is a term that marketers throw around a lot, yet it’s not something with which the general public is familiar–even though they’re likely using some form of content marketing on a regular basis. I began with a little bit of nonscientific market research, and sure enough, a show of hands indicated that of the 25 people in the room representing a wide range of industries, only three were familiar with content marketing–all marketing people.
Marketing has undergone a major revolution
Many people who either don’t pay any attention to or don’t do any marketing aren’t aware of how much electronic delivery has changed the landscape. Not only has it given us new communication channels–websites, a proliferating number of new social media sites, newsletters and other forms of electronic media, but it has changed the way we share information about ourselves and our businesses. Today’s marketing is much more personal. It’s also raised the stakes and increased competition. If you want to reach your audience, you’ve got to set yourself apart.
It’s time to connect
It’s no longer good enough just to be presenting boring information about your products and services. There’s nothing about this that will set you apart. You need to be telling a story, finding a way to connect with your audience. This is the essence of content marketing. How do you do this? Case studies are great ways to share your expertise. Businesses like to position themselves as problem solvers, right? Share an example of how you helped a client solve a problem, make more money, get more clients, improve cash flow, streamline operations, etc. There’s likelihood that someone else shares the same problems and will relate with this experience.
One of my favorite marketers is Seth Godin, writer, speaker and all-around interesting guy who comes up with some eminently quotable stuff. “Good marketing is no longer about the stuff we make but about the stories we tell”. For some reason, people think about marketing and think it has to be boring. Just like they think about the endless commercials we watch on TV and think they all have to be stupid. Yet they’re not—some are clever and fun, even brilliant. Marketing can and should be interesting, fun and inspiring.
Reach your audience on an emotional level
It’s infinitely more likely that you’ll make a lasting impression if you can reach your audience on an emotional level. I was at a luncheon a few months ago hosted by a financial guy. I went because I can always count on interesting people and good food. I was delighted that he chose to give a brief talk—not on market upheaval—but how he worked with a client who wanted to retire but didn’t think he could afford it. He told a very moving story about he worked with this couple for several years to position them so they could enjoy a simpler life—and their retirement. This was terrific marketing—a great story about how he helps his clients—and really—isn’t that what it’s all about?