How do you attract passionate customers?
What can you do toÂ cut through the noise and get people to notice what you have to say?
The answer isÂ CONTENTâ€”interesting and compelling information that helps solve your customersâ€™ problems.
Itâ€™sÂ interesting content that drives peopleÂ to push that Share button or say to themselves, â€œWow! This is a great article! I think Iâ€™ll subscribe.â€
Hereâ€™s an analogy: If a big-time investor invited you to pitch your business idea to him, how much effort would you make to impress him?
Iâ€™m guessing that you wouldnâ€™t dare show up without a compelling idea and aÂ well-thought-out strategy. And yet most businesses do just that when it comes to social media marketing.
Given the opportunity to influence an online audience of potential customers, they simply show up without preparing a compelling message. No wonder they donâ€™t see the results they want with their social media campaigns.
Prepare Your Message
Social media rewards interesting ideas. What is your audience most interested in?Find out what that is and then create compelling storiesÂ that feed your audience and generate passionate followings.
In their bookÂ Managing Content Marketingâ€”The Real-World Guide for Creating Passionate Subscribers to Your Brand, Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose sum it up this way: â€œContent is what converts customers.â€
Whether you call yourself a social media marketer, an Internet marketer or a traditional marketer, you shouldÂ define the kind of content that interests your potential customers, develop it and then prepare for the conversion to take place.
This book shows you how to do that. Hereâ€™s what you need to know about it.
Robert Rose and Joe Pulizzi wroteÂ Managing Content MarketingÂ to provide the vital steps required to understand this thing called content marketing.
Letâ€™s face itâ€”itâ€™s not easy to create compelling content day in, day out. In fact, without proper knowledge, itâ€™s practically impossible. But it can be done. It starts with understandingÂ three fundamental thingsÂ about yourself and your market space:
- Who YOU areâ€”Whatâ€™s your story?
- Who THEY areâ€”Your customers, and why they should care about your story.
- What CONTENT can you provide them to build loyalty?
Ultimately you want toÂ develop a content marketing strategyÂ that helps you:
- Create passionate subscribersÂ to your brand;
- Continually engage themÂ with great content from the first day you meet them throughout their entire life cycle.
What to Expect
This book is a reminder to all business owners and marketers that we are all storytellers, and we need toÂ figure out how to develop storiesÂ that will win over our audiences.
At 173 pages (12 chapters) you can expect an outstanding guide for doing content marketing the right way.
Part 1 examines to WHOM you want to tell your story; WHAT story to tell; and WHERE to tell it. Part 2 shows you how toÂ manage the strategy youâ€™ve createdÂ in Part 1. Overall, the book digs deep and discusses the more robust processes behind content marketing.
#1: Build a Business Case for Content Marketing
Content marketing is so new that itâ€™s hard to identify the â€œhard business benefitsâ€ associated with it. However, the whole idea of creating compelling content is toÂ get customers and make money.
To develop your business case for content marketing,Â ask yourself these questions:
- Whatâ€™s your business goal?Â (What challenges are you trying to solve?)
- How big an opportunity is it?Â (What is the outcome if it works?)
- Whatâ€™s the business model?Â How are you going to make it work? What kind of content do you need to make it work? Who will create it?
- Whatâ€™s your differentiating value?Â How is your content marketing going to be different from other marketing efforts you have attempted in the past; e.g., PPC or SEO? Can you anticipate success where other efforts have failed?
- Whatâ€™s the risk if you fail?
#2: Develop Your Pillars of Content
Whatâ€™s your story?Â If you own an air-conditioning company, for example, your story is not â€œproviding and repairing air-conditioning systems.â€ Your companyâ€™s story should be â€œproviding a comfortable home experience.â€ Once that story has been grasped, the content ideas can begin to flow.
As you brainstorm your own content ideas,Â think about these questions:
- What environment do you find yourself in currently? Who are your customers? Are they happy or frustrated? What kind of content will make them happy?
- Whatâ€™s that big, audacious goal that you have for your company? Is it to introduce a new product? What kind of experience will your new product provide to customers?
- What happens if you launch this new product and it fails? How will you address your story then?
- What about the frustrations you faced while developing the new product? Work that into your story and get the audience on your side.
- How will you respondÂ to those who said it couldnâ€™t be doneâ€”the competition and the naysayers?
- Reach out to other bloggersÂ and share your point of view with them, and ask them to share theirs.
- How will the story continue after the product is launched?Â Tell stories that will continue to provide thought leadership.
#3: Create Passionate Subscribers
Content generated by satisfied customers is the most powerful way to reach your content goals. AppleÂ®Â is the quintessential example of this. They have no social media presence and they have no blog. But they have successfully built a passionate subscriber base that is willing to create fan sites, write, share and evangelize the AppleÂ®Â brand.
Hereâ€™s how you can youÂ create passionate subscribers:
- Know your target audienceâ€”Never create content from the â€œinside outâ€ (based on what you already have in your â€œlibraryâ€). It may not be relevant. Instead think like a cable TV station and define a very specific audience. ThenÂ create content that will inspire them.
- Feel their painâ€”Letâ€™s say your customer base is 80% men and only 20% women, but your product is equally useful to both sexes. Clearly youâ€™re not attracting enough women. What kind of content could you put in place that would attract the women who are not currently drawn to your product? For example, P&G uses a blog calledÂ ManofTheHouse.comÂ to attract dads and a separate blog calledÂ HomeMadeSimple.comÂ to attract moms.
- Determine the opportunityâ€”What would happen if you could write content that eases the pain of your target audience? (Hint: â€œcha-ching!â€) This is where RETURN on investment comes in.
- So if the opportunity is big enough to justify spending your time and money, thenÂ pull it all together with a solid content marketing strategy.
#4: Case Study: What Happens When You DONâ€™T Write Your Story?
If you donâ€™t write your own story, guess what will happen? It will be written for you.
P&G found this out in early 2010 when they introduced a new Pampers product that was hailed by many as the â€œiPod of baby care.â€ It was a redesigned diaper that was thinner and more absorbent than the previous design.
But instead of repackaging the new product, P&G put the new diaper in the old packaging and didnâ€™t communicate this to their customers. As a result, furious mommy bloggers and Facebook groups popped up all over the place calling for the company to bring back the old product.
What P&G didnâ€™t realize is thatÂ their subscribers, in the absence of a story, would go ahead and make up a story themselves. A successful content marketing strategy would have made the launch more successful.
#5: Case Study: What Happens When You DO Write Your Story?
If you do write your own story, then YOU remain in control and canÂ influence what your customers think about you.
In August 2010, a flight attendant on JetBlue flight 1052 from Pittsburgh to New York got into a fight with a passenger and proceeded to have a â€œtake this job and shove itâ€ moment! Then he grabbed a beer from the planeâ€™s galley and slid down the emergency evacuation chute.
Over the next few hours, JetBlueâ€™s Facebook page lit up with a torrent of angry comments. But an opportunity was brewing. The next day, JetBlue posted a rather tongue-in-cheek blog post titled,Â â€œSometimes the Weird News Is About Us.â€
What happened over the next few days was very interesting.
Slowly, the sentiment about JetBlue began to turn around. There were hundreds of sympathetic comments on the blog post and soon bloggers and the press began to notice. They wrote about JetBlueâ€™s â€œcomebackâ€ and how they â€œsurvived the crisis.â€ Soon everything was back to normal.
A lot has been written aboutÂ content marketingÂ and thereâ€™s always a risk that another book on the same topic is just â€œbeating a dead horse.â€
However,Â Managing Content MarketingÂ is modern, thought-provoking and at times even risky. It doesnâ€™t deal with the basics (there are plenty of other books for that); rather, it focuses on helping youÂ develop a structure for your storytelling enterprise. If youâ€™re serious about learning how content marketing works, you wonâ€™t go too far without it.
Fair warningâ€”there are a few bold ideas in this book, some of which made me a little skittish; for example, the ideas of budgeting for failure (page 30) and switching your story when the current one doesnâ€™t work are not appealing, but theyâ€™re sometimes necessary.
In the end, theÂ authorsâ€™ execution of content marketing as a business strategy is brilliant, and you canâ€™t help but feel a little smarter for having digested it.
Social Media Examiner gives this book a 5-star rating.
Over to You
How are you using content to convert your audience into customers? Please share your ideas in the comments box below.