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Friday, 26 April 2013

Define your audience (Let's talk about me)

In no particular order, I'm a wife, mother, sister, daughter, dachshund owner, freelancer, marketer, VW driver and vegetarian.  I could go on, but you get the idea.  Your customers are just like me or perhaps totally unlike me, the point being that the generic average customer doesn't exist.

How we respond to marketing, depends on the role that we're playing at the time and how that affects our attitude to your messaging.  The key for communications then, is knowing as much about me, (your customer) as possible, so that your content meets my values, interests, attitudes and personality.

Small businesses often worry that selecting an audience leaves money on the table, but appealing to the masses, vastly reduces the effectiveness of your communications and we all know the aim of the game is to get as much return for every pound spent as possible.

Who is buying now?
Look at your existing customer base.  Who are they (male/female/student etc)?  What age are they?  Where do they typically live?  Do they have particular interests and behaviours?  If in doubt, ask them why they bought your product.  People love to share their opinions and the insights gained from such an exercise shouldn't be underestimated.

What's your competition doing?
Who are your competitors aiming at and why?  You can often get an initial feel by looking at their websites, social media interaction and content produced.  Rather than going head to head, look for that niche that isn't currently being served, or consider a subset of an audience that you could appeal to more successfully than your competitors.

Who do you want your customer to be?
Often companies start out marketing at a local level, with one kind of audience in mind. Social media is a great window into whether this audience exists and its also excellent for finding out whether your assumed target, matches the reality of your paying customers. Ask yourself who needs your business today and will continue to need you in the future and make sure you're marketing appeals to this group.

Homework (see badly drawn illustration above)
Take a blank piece of paper for each audience you can think of in relation to your business.  Write that audience name in the middle of the paper, along with as many known facts about them as possible, (the smallest circle). The devil is in the detail.  Now think about who might influence their decision to buy (the second circle).  Remember, you're not just trying to convince your audience directly, but through the whole raft of avenues which play their part in forming that audiences opinion of you.

Define your audience clearly and your content strategy (what you want to tell them) will follow. Aim at nothing and you're bound to hit it.

Friday, 19 April 2013

5 Ways To Ensure Your Content Rocks

Content is King.  Yeah, yeah, we know it's the elusive life blood of business, but where do you start?

Here's my top 5 recommendations for creating content which grabs your audience and cries out to be shared.

1. Entertain

Before we got caught up in B2B or B2C debates, there was a world that worried about H2H - human to human.  The technology may have changed, but people will always want to laugh and be entertained.  Find a way to convey your message and make people smile and there's a good chance they'll pass that warm fuzzy feeling and your brand, onto their friends.

2. Educate

We all want to seem smarter than we are.  Providing your customers with information which takes them beyond their original question, ensures at least a bookmark.  It also raises their perception of who you are and helps differentiate you, from those who only provide enough information to make the sale.
This doesn't have to be complicated. My local estate agent uses their blog to talk about the housing market in general rather than just their services.

3. Inspire

We're all inspired by different things, but being inspired is such a great feeling we can't help but act on it.  Brands know this.  Pinterest reigns because of it.  Make your customers feel inspired, sell them the dream, share the possibilities and the sales will follow.  A great example here is  The Monocle Order a company selling sunglasses, but blogging pure inspiration in words and pictures.

4. Inform

Provide the facts and information and let your customers decide.  Content that is informative, gives it's source credibility and helps us justify our decision to spend. Charities often use informative content to convey the severity of a situation and appeal to our head as well as our hearts.

5. Blatantly sell

Use this one sparingly.  Companies who beat down our doors, even if they are likely to be virtual ones these days, fast lose their appeal.  We know you've got product to sell and sometimes it's ok to tell us directly why we should choose yours over the competition.  Be warned though, content which simply states the features will almost always be doomed, (unless you've found just the right customer, at the right time, in the right place). Selling on benefits once in a while, can hit the mark.

Of course once you've created your entertaining, educational, inspiring and informative content, (with the occasional sales message thrown in), you'll have to decide which channels to use so your market hears your message. That's a whole other blog post.

Friday, 12 April 2013

THE best way to create word of mouth

When was the last time you recommended a product or company to a friend? What made you do it?

In my experience, it's the last interaction that prompts us to share our experience with others.   The surprise element (good or bad), that sticks in our minds.  The companies which delight us, by validating our decision to spend our money with them.  Those products, which exceed our expectations and make us feel like we got a bargain.  It's the unexpected care and attention that becomes our dinner party story, not the glossy sales brochure or the flashy website.

Often companies are so focused on making a good first impression, that they forget what happens beyond the initial sale.  Lead generation is always on the Marketers agenda, with after sales service way down on the list of priorities.

As the world gets more social, it's relatively easy to 'like' something on Facebook without risking our reputation, but it's the contacts we share on a one to one basis that really show our loyalty.

What could you be doing to make a lasting impression?