SIA Snow Show Presentation Recap

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Last week, our Director of Business Development, Harrison, gave a talk on content marketing at the 2015 SIA Snow Show.

It was a resounding success. While the majority of the other groups presenting worked in retail, Elevated Third was able to provide attendees with the distinct perspective of someone with an agency background. To see the full presentation from the talk, go here.

Content marketing is the ability to communicate with customers and potential customers without traditional hard selling. It is a vital part of any sound marketing strategy. Instead of making users think you are pitching a product to them, you are providing them with interesting, valuable information about a subject important to them. Rather than sell them or your product, you are in essence selling them on your knowledge. There are several main topics that play into effective content marketing.

Storytelling

It is necessary to have a strategy for every interaction with a customer or potential customer, in a way that allows them to associate your company/brand with a positive experience. Rather than coming up with your plan on the spot and possibly confusing or even frustrating your customer, plan ahead. There are several keys to making this happen:

By standing alone, your message should be able to make sense to any layperson who stumbles across your product or services, not requiring vast insider knowledge and/or previous interaction with your brand or company.

Your content marketing should be less of a slap in the face and more of a slight nudge. Harsh messaging and branding pushes people away––the last thing you want is to scare off your customers with too severe of a message.

Ensuring a standard narrative is another essential piece of storytelling. Follow the patterns and stories people know: conflict, struggle, triumph. It’s so ingrained into the way humans think that they will be able to make the jumps needed to hear and understand your story.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but in content marketing, your brand must come second. “But how will people remember our products/services if we don’t remind them?” People out in the world aren’t looking to read about how great your products are––they are out in the world looking for relevant information on something they need. Hook and keep them with your content, and then present your services as useful.

Lastly, stick in people’s minds. Not only do you want them to be hooked by your content, but you also want them thinking about your content after they’ve left your website or seen your video.

Technology

The digital world is not what it was ten years ago. Hell, it’s not what is was six months ago. The landscape of marketing is a constant morphing ball of change, so brands have to be consistently on top of the latest and greatest to capitalize on opportunities.

With the rise in technology comes with the need to parse out different types of content. What you click on while on Facebook is different from what you look for in your email and so on. Focus on the kind of content that matches your media. For example, emails need to be easily scannable for quick viewing and sorting––while competing against tons of other marketing emails in your customer's inboxes.

Mobile is another major aspect of content marketing. You know it, I know it, mobile is vitally important to any marketing in this day and age. Smartphone use is rapidly growing and will overtake desktop usage soon. Plus, just like in-store experiences, if a customer has a bad time online, it is very possible to lose them forever.

Customers want to feel special through personalization. There is nothing so unappealing as receiving an email that doesn’t relate to you or just feels like it was part of a gigantic email blast. There are simple and easy tools out there to make personalizing emails easier for brands. Take the time to make your customers feel like they made a good choice with you, and they are far more likely to return.

While followers and likes can be important in the social media sphere, it is vital that your data is tracked and is compared to a goal. Analytics will be able to demonstrate what is working and what is not. Additionally, while you should focus the majority of your social media attention to the platform that shows your brand best to customers, it is still very important to maintain a presence in many other areas of social media. Each ignored platform is an ignored method of communicating with a customer.

Another important aspect of social is maintaining a conversation while catering to an audience. Yes, posting interesting and relevant information to your followers is an essential part of social media marketing. But don’t forget to reach out and respond to your customers! Consistency is important, but so is engagement. Progress the conversation––don’t just say the same thing over and over.

In regards to automation, products and content should be related to one another, not separate. Throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks does not work. Additionally, pay attention to the specific personas you want to engage. Before you produce content, think “Why would this persona find this valuable?” If you don’t have an answer, don’t bother. There are all kinds of marketing automation tools out there that can help make this easier, catering specific content to users based on a constantly growing source of information.

Community

In today’s connected world, it has never been easier to gain access to a wide variety of communities. Use this to your advantage to interact with an array of people who share interests that your brand can assist or provide information for.

Focus on the Everyday

The everyday person, the everyday information … Not everything is a blowout competition.

People trust honesty, not self-promotion. By being a brand that is not over the top, customers will be more drawn to a relatable persona. If you say you have credibility, most people are going to think you don’t. An Everyday Joe that people know and trust has something that a company just can’t replicate.

Additionally, engaging with customers through content takes time. One good blog post or social media post won’t suddenly make your brand gain a thousand followers. These things take time––be prepared to let the process happen organically. It helps a lot if you get on good terms with an influencer, someone/some brand which has a large following that can give you the credibility you cannot get yourself. Catching one person’s eye could lead to thousands.

Personalities

Celebrity endorsements are no longer about getting a famous person to wear an item of your clothing. Being a celebrity is a different experience than it was a few years ago, which allows more people the ability to attain iconic status due to social media. It is necessary to think about this idea in different terms; it can change who you choose to target and consider as someone that you want to represent your brand. One example of real people achieving major popularity is recent double amputee, Noah Galloway, who became an overnight sensation, and is now promoting a wide variety of brands and products. Your marketing goes even farther when customers recognize that regular people,  not just celebrities, can do amazing things and use a specific brand. By identifying the brand user as a relatable person, the customer is inspired.

External and Internal Communities

Since it can be difficult to create your own community, it is possible for brands to begin to participate in other external communities. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to find a good customer base––by joining a group of similar interests, you can tap into the insights and target groups of customers that would like your products or services. Partnering is another great way to reach a new demographic. You will attain access to a group who already has a strong affiliation with your collaborator and achieve both prominence and credibility.

Once you achieve prominence in communities, your customers will start promoting your product on their own. You can talk all day about why your product is great, but no one will believe you as much as an actual customer. Give the customers a chance to sing your praises.

Goodwill

You can do a tremendous amount to help build a relationship with customers by establishing goodwill. Sometimes the easiest and most effective way to start that relationship is by helping them.  

To build a new audience, it is necessary to move your content to new areas. Focus on reaching a larger audience by creating a how-to section or demonstrating your knowledge of the industry your brand is a part of. A good example is the K2 Elevated Education series. There are up to 36 videos with information on how to do certain things associated with skiing, but they are all things that do not require K2 skis or any brand loyalty. Instead, it is actual, useful information that can help any skier. The same is true with connecting with novices. By providing them with the information they need to begin participating in something new, they’ll remember their first positive experience with your brand. This also proves the importance of SEO––beginners who find you first will be willing to try you out and will be guaranteed to return if they find your information helpful.

While these are just a few methods of content marketing, these ones are vital to building brand loyalty and finding your company's niche.