COURTESY OF GUEST BLOGGER, JILL STONE, STONE MOUNTAIN SOLUTIONS & TRENDS IN MARKETING MAGAZINE
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My father used to tell me "don't be a follower". I hated that because he was really saying was No, I’m not going to buy you the latest trendy jeans that everyone else has just because your world will end if you don’t have them. Yes, I was a drama queen but now that I’m an adult, I can see his point. And the same thing can be said for how we as business owners market or advertise our businesses.
One of the reasons we started Trends in Marketing was to help business owners and other professionals stay updated on the trends in technology, design and marketing. And let me tell you…it is quite a job!
Back in 1996, Bill Gates coined the phrase “Content is King.” He envisioned the potential of creating educational, informative and creative content and how the internet will be useful for delivering that content. And yes, content drives the internet and we have all benefitted from the ability to connect instantly to content about any subject.
But as with all trends, they lose their sparkle when everyone and anyone jump on the bandwagon. We lose originality, individuality and the ability to stand out. My father wanted me to be different and a leader not a follower; but as a teenager, I was only interested in being popular and being noticed. The funny thing is, you are more likely to be noticed when you are different. My father was right. And I can see his lesson playing out in the business world as we all seek to do what we perceive is working for other businesses. I guess it’s just human nature.
One of the reasons online marketing or inbound marketing became popular was because the marketing gurus said that we were getting tired being bombarded with messages telling us to buy their products. Traditional advertising in the form of TV ads, radio ads, magazine ads, telemarketing, and direct mail began to suffer because we now had the ability to tune out their messages through remote control and caller ID. So inbound marketing became popular and the ideas was to pull the consumers towards you by offering them interesting and educational content.
The definition of inbound marketing according to Wikipedia is:
Inbound marketing refers to marketing activities that bring visitors in, rather than marketers having to go out to get prospects' attention. Inbound marketing earns the attention of customers, makes the company easy to be found, and draws customers to the website by producing interesting content.
The inbound idea is about taking your market and making them visitors to your website and from there capturing them as leads, converting them to buyers and making them raving fans of your products. To accomplish this, you need something to attract them to your website (content) and get them to buy what you want to sell them through landing pages and calls to action.
All this sounds great and it works. The problem is the internet is supersaturated with content! Why? Because we all flock to what works and sooner or later, we are back to the reason why traditional marketing didn’t work. Because we were tired of being bombarded with marketing messages. Now it’s even more overwhelming because we have to trudge our way through the overabundance of content available to us just to find what we are looking for. Even when we search for what we want, we have to get past the directories or paid advertising to get to the websites that contain what we want.
So the big question is… How do we stand out?
My advice (which is based on what I am seeing in my research) is threefold
1. Stop doing what everyone else is doing
2. Meditate or think about your market segment personas
3. Strategize on how you want to reach them personally.
We as marketers (especially small business owners) tend to see what works for others and then proceed to do the same thing. We seldom stop to think if what is working for others will work for us and our market segment.
The first thing we need to do is stop and focus on what will attract our target market segments to US? How do we get them to see us on a crowded internet?
Here is where the challenge comes in. We have to think about who our market segment is. Creating a persona for each segment is crucial to move on to the next step.
According to Hubspot, one of the leading inbound marketing systems developed by engineers at MIT, a persona is:
“In short, buyer personas are groups that you define to represent the different buyers you commonly come across in your marketing and sales process. Your buyer persona might be defined by things like industry, company size, location, and other details. It’s up to you to figure out what is most important.”
The way to get the information you need to build a persona is through market research. We created a template you can use to create your market personas. Simply subscribe at www.trends-in-marketing.com to get yours and get started.
Finally, now that you have detailed information about exactly who your market is you can create a strategy to reach them.
Ask yourself, now that you know who, what, where, how of your target market segment, what will make them buy?
Who are the buyers in your segment? What is their age group, gender, their income, their occupation?
What do they care about? What is their lifestyle? What is important to them?
Where are they located in terms of geographic location and in regards to their industry?
How do they buy? What inspires them to make a purchase? Where do they make purchases?
Strategic Business Insights offers a product called VALS™ that classifies U.S. adults into well-defined groups on the basis of responses to a survey designed to measure motivations and resources. VALS™ provides an intersection of psychology, demographics, and life style—psychographics. Patricia Brenan, Senior Consultant at Strategic Business Insights explains how the VALS™ survey is used.
“At best, psychographics explains why people to do what they do, or why different types of people do the same things for different reasons. VALS, combined with consumer research, provides great insight into various categories of consumer behavior. Make sure that whatever segmentation you use is stable so that it can be replicated from year to year and with different samples of population. VALS is very informative in helping you understand what drives specific types of consumers to buy certain types of products and what types of messaging will appeal best.”
If you would like to take the free VALS™ survey to find out what group you fall into, you can take it using this link:
Summing it Up
So, to answer the question Is Content Still King, my answer and the answers I am seeing in my research is yes it is BUT it needs to be strategic. Good, informative, education and relevant content is the key. Don't work hard to develop content that has little meaning to your target segments and don't add content to your website that isn't relevant to your industry. Google sees and Google knows if it's what your particular target segment is looking for. If it is relevant to your market's search, you can more easily be found with a good optimized website.
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