2020 has certainly left its mark on everyone and everything – everywhere. From our perspective here at PAN, it’s caused us to pivot and hone our marketing and public relations efforts and rethink our approach toward how we’re building relationships – personally and professionally. While those of us in this business are by no means strangers to change or to the importance of relationships, what’s happened this year is like nothing we’ve seen before. Which is likely why these two areas were the focus of this year’s virtual INBOUND 2020 event.
But despite the unforeseen surprises and unprecedented series of situations and circumstances, the dialogue and collaborative conversations at INBOUND surfaced several learnings that can help us better prepare as we head into what is, hopefully, a less eventful 2021.
Growth ebbs and flows just like business initiatives and customer feedback do. But one thing Julie Zhou, Senior Director of Growth at Adroll, made clear is that plateaus are signs of trouble. When your customers stop engaging with you, it means you’re not actually in a long-term relationship. And while there are many signs this is happening, one important step that can help is placing exponentially greater emphasis on paid media efforts. To get, you must also give. A great product can only get you so far, and customers are looking for an experience. As a brand, it’s your responsibility to give them one, even if you’re not seeing an immediate net return. This is where content strategy can have its greatest impact.
Produce relevant content that helps your customers, keeps them coming back for more and gradually moves them down that sales funnel. And by content, that doesn’t mean just a blog post. You can also create downloadable templates, interactive quizzes and podcasts to engage, nurture and expand your reach – tapping audiences you didn’t even know you had and begin to build an investable community for the long term.
You might think you’re already doing this, but you may not be maximizing your content team’s full potential yet. Content writing is both an art and a science, requiring a delicate combination of creativity and fact to help navigate and set the tone for the entire customer experience.
“So what if your customer base is visiting the site? That’s only half the job.” In his talk, Content Strategy For Retention, Liberty Mutual’s Senior Content Strategist, Lou Cimaglia, said the best way to keep customers coming back for more is to educate – which is harder than it seems. This means, it’s time to say goodbye to those technical terms, buzzwords, acronyms and jargon that are second nature to you, and really ask yourself “what did I need to know when I was first starting out?”
Your audience is facing severe cognitive overload and may not know the questions to ask. It’s our job as communications professionals to lower the barrier to entry and make it easier for them to understand what they don’t know. When done right, they’ll remember and come back.
Need more guidance around how to craft a content strategy that resonates? Download our framework, “5 Steps for Crafting Creative Stories that Drive Lead Gen“
In a world where everyone is doing the same thing, be different. It’s cliché, but it works. According to Tyrona (Ty) Heath, Global Lead at The B2B Institute at LinkedIn, we need to be asking, “what is no one else is doing?” And as everyone is discussing what’s changed, that contrarian idea is to ask, “what’s going to stay the same?”
For instance, maybe stop playing it safe and invest in those big bets. It might seem scary, but like learning number one, if you invest a little, you make little; look at Disney and Warner Brothers! Along those lines, if the world is hyper-targeting, be broader, think broader. Hyper-targeting is great for small audiences, but it relies on assumptions about your business and your audience. You could have a fully untapped market out there that you aren’t reaching because you didn’t truly get to know or understand your audience.
In the world of the internet, everyone is a potential customer. The world may exist online, but Ryan Burkett says that you have to remember everyone wakes up a consumer.
Think about yourself. When you scroll social media feeds, when you shop, when you Google something on the internet before the workday starts, are you thinking with your corporate or personal hat? Now multiply that by 7.7M people in the world.
There is an untapped potential online that can still be maximized. It’s why we need to listen – really listen – to consumers and share resources beyond our product and service. For example, that blog post on navigating and understanding mental health in the time of COVID-19 could be the gateway to a new customer relationship.
The world will always change, and there is nothing we can do about that. But one thing’s for sure: The relationship you have with current and prospective customers is more important than ever. So remember to remain open minded and agile on how to reach them.
Ready to take on a customer-first approach to marketing? Learn how to develop a Voice of the Customer program with our guide, “Managing the Empowered Customer.”