Ultimately, the key to modern content marketing is starting from a place of informing your audience. How many times would you want to hear about the perks of your product? If you’re boring yourself as you’re writing your blog post, your audience is already gone.
Schedule a personal profile, a day-in-the-office piece, or some innovative method of using your product that your customers haven’t considered yet.
With marketing right there in the name, it seems obvious that your content marketing is going to include some, well, marketing. And of course, occasionally you’re going to mention the product you offer or the services you want people to buy. But if every single piece of content you offer ends with a marketing pitch or for the purpose of building links, you’re not going to see the sales you want. Let’s talk about why.
Diversity of Content is Key
If there ever was a time when customers made the choice to buy based on a single piece of marketing, that time has passed. With more choices than ever before, customers exhaust many avenues of research before settling on a single product or company. The more kinds of content you offer, the better chance you have of engaging with them.
How-to videos, FAQs, customer testimonials, and articles about industry developments relevant to your product are all key content pieces that move the needle from “undecided” towards “sold.”
Millennials Know When They’re Being Sold To
In many classic marketing schemes, companies almost pretended that they weren’t selling anything. Ads featured brand X and brand Y, only revealing at the last moment that they were recommending something completely different. Modern television ads are full of commercials that never tout the actual benefits of the car or phone they’re advertising, just show a movie star driving around a closed course or showing simulated screen images.
Having grown up with this sort of marketing at their fingertips, Millennials have incredibly canny at understanding when someone is selling to them, and understanding what is, and what is not, being said.
Content marketing works, but marketing to Millennials requires a different sort of communication than marketing to their elders. They expect to get information on your blog, not a sales pitch.
Inside scoops on how the product came to market, a day in the life of your sales team, and the way your company is looking to change the world are all going to make much more of an impact than another story about why they should buy your product.
Millennials Have An Incredible Amount of Buying Power
Some companies may believe that reaching the age-group between 17 and 34 years old is optional, but any company that wants to be profitable cannot afford to leave these people behind. Millennials are expected to spend $200 billion a year, beginning next year, and $10 trillion over their lifetimes.
This is more than any previous consumer generation. Companies that focus only on older marketing methods and older generations will, by definition, find their customer base decreasing year over year.
Customers Of All Ages Respond More To Other Types of Content
Every marketing expert agrees that reaching Millennials means having active and fruitful social media channels, but too many companies start a Facebook page and maybe an Instagram account and think their work is done.
In fact, understanding what makes a person likely to share a piece on social media can help a company develop content.
There are five primary reasons we share content:
- To bring value and entertainment to our friends
- To define ourselves to our friends
- To grow and nourish our relationships
- To feel more involved in the world
- To support a cause
Knowing this, businesses should design content that fits at least one of these categories. For example, a smartphone company could write an article about five great places their phones are being used (entertainment and defining ourselves as people who might do these things) or how their phones are being used by disabled people to aid communication (to support a cause and feel more involved).
But Balance Is Key
Of course, at some point, you’re going to write some straight-up marketing pieces. Usually, these are great when there’s something new happening. A new product, a new service, a new edition, a big sale, or a once-in-a-product opportunity.
Many companies aspire to have a 70/30 split, where around 70 percent of content is “evergreen,” reflecting articles that customers might refer to time and time again, and 30 percent is “news,” reflecting on industry, product, and personnel news. Maintaining an editorial calendar can help a company make sure that they’re getting the balance about right.
According to RuthAnn Wiesner, "if content is king, then Instagram is its own castle". As to why Instagram matters that much for business, here is a list of reasons compiled by Socialbakers:
- 300million monthly active users (MAU)
- 75million daily active users (DAU)
- Top 25 Instagram brand profiles receive 110 times more engagement than on Twitter
- Over 1Billion Likes Daily
- 3,600 new photos shared every minute everyday
Instagram Insights for Business
The visual platform itself is proving to be a good marketing tool for marketers and brands alike. As of August 2016, Instagram announced its release of Stories, aiming to take a swipe at Snapchat´s successful video messaging tool. In short, a platform that features plenty of opportunities for small and medium-sized business and just about any brand looking for a return on investment for their efforts.
Getting Your "Insta" Stories for Your Business
To get it up and running you need an "insta" business account. You can create one from scratch or upgrade your personal one. To upgrade, click the turn wheel icon in the upper right section of your profile and hit "switch". Warning: personal accounts can’t benefit from Stories at the moment.
Benefits of Insta Stories
Is there anything else besides the fresh social marketing perspective? You bet!
Stories allows your business account to be easily discovered by followers and non-followers. You also get access to Analytics, which gives a better insight to what works and what converts across your visual strategy.
Insta Tips and Tricks
It’s all about creating engagement and a sense of community with your followers. To do that, you need to transform your Instagram business channel into a visual storyteller. Here is what you can consider:
- Show personality
- Less is more: keep it 80% non-business and just 20% products/services
- Have call to action elements
- Follow back and engage
- Comment on other users’ photos
- Tag customers for contests and celebrations
- Use hashtags
- Say thank you
- Don’t over-abuse the Direct Messaging options J
The Greatness of Community
Additionally, photograph events and capture video with customers interacting with your products and services. Do not forget call to action elements such as life hacks, product reviews or suggestions for upcoming product launches, promotions and giveaways. Implicate your community members!
Getting Help from the Popular Kids
Follow back, engage and comment with #influencers of Instagram. Tagging users is a great conversation starter, however don’t overuse it.
There is no limit now for using hashtags, but don’t overdo it either, as it sends out the wrong message. Alas, keep the hashtags relevant. Don’t use only the hashtags that get massive clicks, but also the ones that get less, but more targeted traffic.
Harnessing the Power of Instagram Photos
Instagram is all about the "instant" visual: image, video and now story. How you choose to tell your story is more relevant than you think. This blog post from Yotpo showcases the uniqueness of "insta" stories:
- Instagram photos convert better than other types of visual content
- Instagram pics also convert because customer trust photos from previous customers
- Using Instagram has a positive effect on increasing e-comm conversion and engagement
- Instagram photos can be used in marketing materials
- Using Instagram photos allows you to repurpose valuable content, integrate user-generated content
Additional Practices and Curation Tools
To get a grasp of how existing businesses are succeeding, first check the Business Instagram page. Proceed by giving a chance to either of these curation tools to help you filter through stories, or to create better, more appealing stories for your insta business.
This is an Android and iOS photo-editing mobile app with high quality filters, with a free download button. You can use this part social network and photo editing platform to really set yourself apart from the rest.
Available on both iOS and Android OS, this is more than just your average photo editing mobile app. You can fine-tune photos by applying effects with a brush instead of filtering the entire image. Extra: save groups of filters as a template after the initial use, and reuse them Shakira style, "whenever, wherever".
This is an in-house Instagram goody, which allows you to create 1-second videos with no audio. Essentially super short GIFS that loop back and forth. Vinederful, in a way.
Before You Go…
Bottom line: Instagram is more than just a photo-editing & social sharing tool, proving that businesses can convert and strategize through the power of visual. One perfect example of insta success is National Geographic. Thanks to a large network of photographers their images never fail to tell a great story.
Not sure about your own Instagram marketing strategy? This infographic illustrates elements you can integrate for higher success rate.
Branding has increasingly become more mobile-friendly, focusing on stronger online presence, increasingly more visual marketing and straight-on communication. With detail intuition being the closest thing to making an impact in your industry, the question is how to brand your business better and more efficiently?
1. Branding Yourself – the Highlights
1.1. Why You Should Create a Brand
2. Tangible Brand Fundamentals
2.1. Visual Branding – Detail Intuition
2.2. Visual Identity through Design and Graphics
3. Marketing Highlights
1. Branding Yourself – the Highlights
What is Branding to You?
Don’t panic if you don’t know the answer – that is why you are here. For a business, branding means adding personality to the "needle in the hay", and making it stand out. Simply put: you pick a name for your business and want people to recognize it locally, nationally and/or internationally.
1.1. Why You Should Create a Brand
There are at least 3 major reasons:
a) You want to become visible and stand out from the rest
b) You want to share your message with the world
c) You want to sell: B2B, B2C, B2D* (*business-to-distribution channel), H2H* (human-to-human); because there is either a gap in the industry or competition isn’t delivering enough quality.
d) Bonus: There is room for everyone. Or you just simply can!
2. Tangible Branding Fundamentals
First off, a brand is a long-term commitment and like every commitment, it relies on "doability" (the ability to make and build), which does not happen overnight. Tangible elements refer to the actions we take to build a certain brand identity. These include:
- Brand architecture
- Brand voice and tone
- Brand logo and visual vocabulary
- Brand security
2.1. Visual Branding – Detail Intuition
A few words on each.
Brand architecture means mission and vision: what you promise to your customers, clients and fans and how will it serve them.
Brand voice and tone is related to how you translate the brand to your brand consumers and potential consumers and in what way you wish to communicate your mission and vision to them (friendly, formal, business jargon, close communication, or a combination of all).
Brand logo and visual vocabulary refers to the Typography used (i.e. Arial, Georgia, Times New Roman) in CAPS or Non-CAPS, the Fonts (Regular, Bold, Italic, mixture of two or more), the colors to define the visual identity (primary brand colors and brand accent colors), the Logo that allows the design to "breathe", the road from Mark to Trademark. Let’s not forget how details make the difference and include here the Minimum size display and the Clearness grid.
Notable enough, every brand should have a human face to display near an email signature.
Brand security and protection refers to domain name market registration and management solutions, as well as digital measures to ensure that your brand’s digital assets and identity are safe from harm (i.e. online theft).
Detail intuition combines all the resources and allows you to determine details in future trends. This enables companies to gain a real advantage in the way they position the brand, services and how they address potential customer needs.
2.2. Visual Identity through Design and Graphics
This is the focus part of building an online brand. Visual identity principles are closely related to the way we define the look and feel of a brand.
First off, every brand should have a "most recognizable" mark that represents the company: a typed drawing, a specific figure, an element in a deliberate font and color displayed in a series of renditions (each appropriate for every context). A rendition can contain just a logo or the trademark (when the case), additional words and phrasings such as "powered by", along with a tagline, in different sizes and patterns.
Contrast plays another role in how the visual identity stands out. Dark bold backgrounds can be the "make it or break it" point, and it all depends on the amount of good contrast and clear legibility between background color and the mark. A color-based or black version of a logo should only be used against light or white backgrounds, whereas a white or light color-based logo versions should only be used with dark or color-stroked backgrounds.
The Graphics also play a vital role, think of every social media profile, every picture on your blog, every banner, every infographic or graphic material your team produces – each contributes to how the audience perceives you.
3. Online Marketing Highlights
Online marketing is on the brink of change as well, on a clear and simple premise: people’s trust cannot be won with pushy sales strategies. Inbound marketing is the only way to go, combined with social listening and brand sentiment.
Core principles of inbound marketing include a consumer-oriented approach, where the mission is to live where your audience lives, and attract new potential customers, as opposed to hard selling techniques. The content you create circles the idea of providing real solutions and addressing customer needs, instead of blatant advertising of your services. A brand will win customers over by answering their questions, solve cases, involve and promote the audience, and start a long-term relationship with them.
Trending Ideas to Boost Your Marketing
Here are a few creative ideas to use in your marketing strategy:
- Create heat maps with local resources to answer your customers’ local needs
- Compile a resource page based on customer data
- Optimize your newsletters as a weekly issue where trending information and creative solutions are listed, instead of just your product or service updates
- Organize regular video/audio webinars for live interaction with your customers
- If customers use some of the social media platforms as CRM channels, then structure your social media content as an addition to customer support
- Do short surveys to better understand your audience
- Keep it simple, keep it personal – this is the human-to-human principle
- Embrace the new: Instagram stories, the new Facebook pages format, Snapchat videos
- If possible, meet your customers face to face, take pictures with them, and use this as fresh content
- Invite your customers to add and create content of their own. This will enhance the voice of your community.
These are our recommendations in terms of taking your branding to a higher level in quarter 4. The year is far from over, and in many industries, autumn means a new business season. So take the lead, and do not lose to competition.
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