In a time of global unrest, can marketing save our business and be the answer to our worries? As the world moves further online and sales teams deepen their dependency on inbound, should companies focus on creating valuable, engaging content? Is it even possible for marketing to move from being a cost line in financials to a profit centre with its own revenue line? Many companies have already understood that unless we kill our old marketing beliefs the new marketing model will kills us.

Personalised customer experience

Marketing is about values

Steve Jobs

According to SalesForce, 82% of B2B buyers expect personalised content. In fact, they expect the same level of personalisation they receive in the B2C world. How does this translate to business?

By now we should avoid differentiating the B2B world from the B2C word, and focus on our customers’ direct needs, wants, insecurities, aspirations and values.

Stop right here for a moment and remember: As consumers, we don’t buy products and services, we buy aspirations, values and attitudes. I know you know this, but do you?

A personalised customer experience begins when we are able, as marketers, to focus on designing a customer journey around our audiences’ true interests, values and aspirations (I have excluded ‘needs’ as needs are ‘created’). At every stage of the buyer’s journey we need to be asking ourselves:

  • Can we be doing more to personalise the experience?
  • How can we create a personalised customer experience that delivers the right content at the right time?
  • How are we going to engage our reader so that they feel valued at each touch point? (and this include talking to them with the correct tone of voice at the right moment in time, no point in being whimsical when their credit card hasn’t been accepted or serious when they sign up for your newsletter.)
  • How are we going to create a ‘made for you experience’?

Related: What is a buyer persona and why is everyone getting it wrong?

Don’t sell products – Sell dream’s

Now think about this, when you purchased your last holiday, were you sold on your destination or the type of aircraft carrier? I’m sure you weren’t interested in the features of the Boeing 373 when you bought your travel tickets, just the fact that it was the fastest way to get you to your destination. We don’t care about features, just tell us what we can achieve with them.

Disney, Red Bull, Nike, Apple and Lego (to name but a few) are pioneers in this philosophy. These companies sell a global package of dreams, personal experiences, and status. 

People buy into ideas. Take a position and and tell your story. When you take this position you are turning your customers into real people; people with dreams, hopes, ambitions and goals.

Think of our experience at Disney. From the moment we queue up to purchase our ticket until we reach an attraction, we are totally immersed in a world of fantasy where we are then guided from one experience to another. They are constantly hitting us with magical moments. They do this too with their Disney channel. What’s clever about it is that they then monetise whatever high our family may experience from this journey they have taken us on. How many times have you found yourself at home with gift shop items you wondered why you ever bought? Well, at the time, you were purchasing the experience.

Own your idea

What use is content if your audience can’t find it? There is nothing worse than creating a ton of useful material only to realise that no one can find it. Your prospects don’t know it exists, your sales team isn’t using it and your very own marketing team isn’t able to recycle it. This is when we realise that content marketing is in fact going to require some serious effort, although, every marketer does deserve a path to success.

Apple realised that the most effective strategy was to ‘own an idea’. They believed that people with passion could change the world. A customer interpreted that if they bought a Mac, they could change the world. With this they were empowering people and creating evangelists.

The idea is that if you can inspire a consumer enough for them to recommend your brand these customers will feel that they represent a specific way of thinking, a new generation, and a mission: something bigger than themselves.

Harley Davidson is the pioneer in customer evangelism. Harley Davidson never sold bikes. They sold a subculture and the idea of bike riding. By capturing their audience’s attention with this idea, they then owned this idea, they owned this identity and they owned this subculture. Basically, they owned their audience, to the extent that people would tattoo the the Harley logo onto their arms and chest as a symbol of belonging.

Related: Keyword research 101

Create an experience

By now you have probably realised it’s important to admit that people care more about themselves than your brand or company. Your brand is important to them to the extent that it is capable of fulfilling their ‘needs’. Your content needs to inspire feelings and add value to their lives. Focus on creating a personalised world of sensations, feelings and experiences for your audience.

Once you have content, it is important that you start using it in a way that works for your audience. The environment where it sits, how it is structured and how your prospects engage with your content forms part of your users experience with your content. Content hubs are one way modern marketers are organising their blog content to ensure they are showing what is relevant to their end user. This avoids audiences getting lost amidst a ton of irrelevant blog posts.

Content Hub’s are built around topic’s our prospects are interested in with no dead end’s, connecting our company with our audience. Too many brands (B2B and B2C alike) default to mapping their content around a) format b) a chronological experience – our May 12th post if followed by our May 7th post, with both being totally disconnected. Let’s be honest here, when was the last time you wanted to learn about a company by only looking at their info-graphic’s or March blog posts? How is this supposed to keep users engaged?

Depending on our customers needs, the format type and date of publication will be different. Our job as marketers is to be like Amazon and Google, we need to be able to deliver content that is dead on accurate, relevant and personalised at precisely the right time, depending on their challenges and aspirations. If you get this right, you with become a trusted authority for your audience.

Related: Content Hubs; The battle for content attention

Takeaway’s

So, can marketing save our business? Yes, but, only if we figure out who our audience is, what inspires them, and how this is translated back into their lives. Now show them that you have the solution and own that journey by mastering the message and the way you deliver it to your audience.

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