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Brand Newsroom 145: Customer centricity: The most obvious marketing trend ever?

Customer centricity. It’s the latest marketing buzzword. What is it? Well, it’s all about prioritising your customer’s specific needs, observing them objectively in order to understand these needs, and developing products and service offerings to deliver on these needs.

Today the BNR marketing podcast team asks, shouldn’t that be obvious?

Here are some key take-outs:

  • If you’re not there for the audience, what are you there for? Brands that service their audience well are the ones that succeed. So it’s odd that “customer centricity” is suddenly getting attention.
  • The customer isn’t always right. If you really want to service the customer well, you have to give them the best advice — and sometimes that’s to tell them that they’re wrong. Sometimes that might even lead to ending the relationship with the client.
  • An open and honest relationship between a client and an agency is absolutely vital to success.
  • Go back to your business goals and appraise where you’re at. Ask yourself if your relationships are adding value to your business, and to the business you’re working with.
  • Don’t take your best customers for granted.

Here are the links you might need

On My Desk

  • Nic recommended Media Stable’s new podcast, The Experts. It’ll be out soon.
  • Sarah recommended this blog post by Carla Johnson called 34 of the Best Non-Marketing Books for Marketers.
  • James mentioned former US Federal Bureau of Investigations chief, James Comey, and the way he held himself during his recent US Senate committee appearance. He was, James says, a lesson in communicating with authenticity.

Have you heard the one about…

Recently James, Sarah and Nic looked at how good design can help sell your content.

 

And here’s a discussion about drip email marketing and whether it works.

Like what you’ve heard?

Give us a follow on SoundCloud to get the latest episodes.

Or, you can subscribe or leave a review on iTunes.

 

By | June 21st, 2017|Categories: Brand Newsroom, Content Marketing, Marketing, Podcast|Tags: , , |Comments Off on Brand Newsroom 145: Customer centricity: The most obvious marketing trend ever?

Brand Newsroom 144: How good design can really sell your content

Ninety per cent of the information our brain processes is visual and 40 per cent of people respond better to something visual than they do to text.

Jeremy Stewart is a digital marketing consultant at Launchpad Creative and really understands graphics and design — so he’s the perfect person to help us understand how good design can help us sell our message.

Here are some key take-outs:

  • Visual content creates an emotional connection with your audience you can’t get through text alone — our brains compute images so much faster, too.
  • Design encompasses everything from font choice to pictures. Jeremy says the more simple, the better.
  • People really do judge a book by its cover. Design helps people make decisions.
  • If you’re a really small business, there are some great tools to help you do good design yourself. But as you grow, definitely get the professionals in.
  • Choosing the right image can make all the difference between success and failure.
  • Instagram is a great medium, even for business to business, because the images spread so far and wide and it helps you connect with your audience.
  • Infographics have moved a long way from just being a visual representation of statistics; you can do them on anything now. Just make them pretty and have a message to share. Convert your blogs into infographics and animated videos so you get more value from the same content.

On My Desk

Have you heard the one about…

Recently Sarah got particularly passionate about drip email marketing campaigns.

And here’s a podcast where the team were joined by Mark Masters to look at some great examples of content marketing.

 Give us a follow on SoundCloud to get the latest episodes.

Or, you can subscribe or leave a review on iTunes.

 

By | June 14th, 2017|Categories: Brand Newsroom, Marketing|Tags: , |Comments Off on Brand Newsroom 144: How good design can really sell your content

Are you making demands with your content marketing?

Have you ever met a person who improves the energy in a room just by walking through the door? They’re the people you want to be near – the folks you lean a little closer to so you don’t miss a word. Invariably, they pull from a deep well of charisma to make everyone around them feel included. They command your attention and you willingly give it.

 Content marketing should be like this. Too often, the opposite is true.

Making demands on your audience

As content marketing enters the mainstream in a flood of cheap content, good tools and no barrier to publishing, marketers and business owners are adopting an old-fashioned approach. They’re stealing techniques from the bad old days of advertising and carnival barkers, pushing unwanted messages to an audience that isn’t particularly interested. Not only uninterested, the audience is no longer captive to your demands. In an effort to push out your message, you end up offending the people you’re trying to influence. And it’s incredibly difficult to get them back.

 On episode 143 of Brand Newsroom, I had a good rant about the abuse of drip email marketing. I won’t repeat myself but encourage you to listen to it here because it’s a technique used to demand attention:

 

 

Here is a great example of a drip email I received this week with a big wallop of demands. The subject line was ‘Seeking your response’:

 Hi Sarah, 

I hope you are doing great. It is just a follow-up to draw your attention towards my previous email. I understand you might be busy with your priority tasks.

I would appreciate if you can go through an email that I have sent previously and share your thoughts.

Looking forward to a collaboration.

 Why on earth would I respond? Would you? There’s nothing in this for me except a request to do the bidding of a total stranger. The writer is asking me for one of the most valuable things I have – my time. In return, I get a big fat nothing. It’s a demand for my attention without a single benefit to me, the audience.

Industry-specific demands towards customers

Certain industries lend themselves to demanding communication. I recently wrote in the Lush newsletter about a run-in with my son’s private school. Airlines are another industry where we get an awful lot of direction and not much love. United Airlines is on a red-hot run of PR disasters. Telephone and internet companies provide a rich vein of customer exasperation and vitriol. You only have to hang out on Twitter for an hour or two to know it’s a global problem.  The level of frustration and anger associated with being a customer in education, telecommunications and air travel is amazing. You don’t want to invoke emotion like that for your business.

How to command attention with content marketing

If content marketing is about driving profitable customer action, there’s a mistaken belief that badgering people is an effective approach to meeting your goals. Here are better ways to command attention: 

  • Develop content that serves a purpose for your audience. This can be a buying guide, an infographic with compiled statistics around a specific topic, a white paper explaining a complex issue, a case study showing how another person benefitted from engagement with you or a blog post providing links to valuable research and websites. This is the sort of content your audience might not even realise they need – but you do.
  • Segment your audience and databases to ensure you’re providing content that’s both topical and relevant. I may well be interested in how to stake out a tent in record time but not in the middle of winter. Don’t send me a childhood survival guide if I’m not a parent or my children are grown.
  • Make me the centre of your universe. I don’t care about you, your business goals or what your company has accomplished. I truly don’t. I only care about how you and your products or services can help me. Put your marketing through the filter of my eyes.
  • Do not nag. If you don’t get a response from an unsolicited email, don’t harass me with more requests. Pick up the phone or deliver something useful but don’t, for the love of all that’s holy, chastise me for not doing what you want me to do.
  • Invest in quality. Pay attention to your spelling, grammar, word usage and punctuation. Get someone to proofread your copy or hire an editor. You’d be surprised how many people consider poor writing a deal breaker for business.
  • Put on a charm offensive. Content marketing should be a courtship, not a one-night stand. How you approach your audience is as important as what you deliver. To quote Mary Chapin Carpenter in her song The Hard Way, “Show a little inspiration; show a little spark”. Make your audience feel like you really care about them.
  • Deliver something different. Quoting Mary Chapin Carpenter again, “Tell me something I don’t know instead of everything I do”. There’s a plethora of same old, same old, same old content on the internet. Commit to making something different to fill a void.

How can you tell if it’s working?

What you want to achieve – what we all covet – is the undivided attention of your audience when your content arrives. Think of the moment a conductor raises his baton. The room goes silent and most people lean forward in their seat. The same is true of the best public speakers. The crowd quiets itself in anticipation. Performers are fortunate because they get immediate feedback. Applause, standing ovations, ticket sales and even booing are all helpful in determining success of their content.

For content marketers, keeping an eye on your subscriber lists is a great way to determine if your efforts are being appreciated – if you’re commanding attention. What is your open rate? How many click-throughs do you get? How many conversions do you get? These are all great ways, especially when analysed in combination, to determine whether you have the attention of your audience.

Another good way is to stop. When you don’t publish or schedule or show up at the expected time, does anyone notice? Does anyone complain? Do you get emails, phone calls or text messages trying to find out why? If you don’t, it could be because your audience isn’t finding enough value in what you’re doing.

Where to get help

I’m not for a moment suggesting any of this is easy. It’s not. But it’s something we do every day at Lush Digital Media and we can help you develop a content marketing strategy to charm the pants off your target audience. Get in touch and we’ll get you out of the demanding camp and into the good habits of commanding attention.

By | June 8th, 2017|Categories: Brand Newsroom, Content Marketing, Copywriting, Marketing, Media, Social Media, Video Production|Tags: , |Comments Off on Are you making demands with your content marketing?

Brand Newsroom 143: Is drip email marketing a good thing or a bad thing?

Sarah has had enough. Having been bombarded by drip email campaigns for years, she lets fly at this increasingly popular — but often very annoying —marketing  strategy. But, does it work? And, if you’re going to use it, how do you get it right?

  • While Sarah might hate the tactic, companies that excel at drip marketing generate 80 per cent more sales at 33 per cent lower costs. Here are the statistics.
  • Drip marketing works by keeping you at the forefront of the prospect’s mind, providing a contact point for leads, and helping you target prospects who might be interested in future.

On My Desk

Have you heard the one about…

Recently James and Sarah had a discussion with Mark Masters about great content marketing strategies.

And here’s a discussion with Sandra Brewer of Perceptive Marketing on managing messaging for multiple brands.

Like what you’ve heard?

Give us a follow on SoundCloud to get the latest episodes.

Or, you can subscribe or leave a review on iTunes.

 

By | June 7th, 2017|Categories: Brand Newsroom, Marketing, Online marketing|Tags: , , |Comments Off on Brand Newsroom 143: Is drip email marketing a good thing or a bad thing?

Brand Newsroom 142: Mark Masters and clever content marketing for small businesses


Here are some key take-outs:

  • Often small businesses are falling into content marketing because they recognise the marketplace is there for businesses to provide a value add for their audience.
  • Business owners often have a hard time getting their head around the idea of “giving away” their ideas and information — yet it works.
  • It can also take time to understand that a hard-sell message doesn’t work.
  • Show your passion and experience for something through your content marketing and it will deliver business results for you.
  • If you can find different stories — a niche — it will help you build an audience.

 

Here are the links you might need

 

On My Desk

  • Mark’s recommendation was an interactive music video by a band called Real Estate. You can see it (and play along) here.
  • Here’s Sarah’s recommendation, an article by Cornwall SEO’s Lyndon Antcliff.

 

Have you heard the one about…

Recently James, Sarah and Nic took a close look at marketing for multiple brands, with Sandra Brewer.

 

And here’s a (rather heated) debate the team had about marketing awards and whether they’re worth the effort.

 

Like what you’ve heard?

Give us a follow on Soundcloud to get the latest episodes.

Or, you can subscribe or leave a review on iTunes.

 

By | May 31st, 2017|Categories: Brand Newsroom, Marketing|Tags: |Comments Off on Brand Newsroom 142: Mark Masters and clever content marketing for small businesses

Brand Journalism: How to write a good lede

It’s easy to suck.

Getting that first sentence right — finding the perfect words to capture the reader’s attention and hold it — can be tricky.

For some of us, it’s a delicious challenge. Do I paint a picture or hit them with the facts? Do I metaphorically punch the reader in the gut? Or do I woo them into the story gently?

For others, finding the right words to start an article (or a blog post or a newsletter or a letter to Great-aunt Joan) comes somewhere on the pain chart between diving into a hornet’s nest and pouring acid into their eyes.

So, what’s the secret to writing a good lede?

Start with the basics

If writing doesn’t come naturally to you, there’s one tried and tested method used by journalists the world over — the “inverted pyramid”. (This is the advice you’ll get everywhere on the internet, but I’m going to build on this a little later).

The idea here is to put the most important information first and then each sentence thereafter contains the next most important information (So the pyramid is fat at the top, where the meaty facts are, and skinny down the bottom where the least important information is found.)

The most important information is almost always the stuff that answers the questions:

  • Who?
  • What?
  • When?
  • Where?

And, often somewhat less so:

  • Why?
  • How?

Just getting this information down in a sentence is usually a good place to start. It means the page is no longer a blank white sheet staring back at you, mocking your ability to write. These can be relatively simple sentences, but they are crammed with information.

Let’s take a story from the Zeitgeist and see how the journos do it, before we get down to how brand journalists can use the same technique. This is from the Daily Mail.

The opening sentence gives you the basics of the story, so you can quickly tell what it’s about and decide whether you want to read on. If you do read on, then you get the next most important information, and on it flows through the article. This is where the writer answers in more depth the questions:

  • Why?
  • How?

So, does the ‘inverted pyramid’ work for brand journalism?

Of course it does. If you’re doing brand journalism properly then you’re not writing to sell anything, you’re writing to give your audience valuable and relevant information. If you’re trying to shoehorn a sales message into your copy, then you’re doing content marketing all wrong. At that point, you’re a copywriter. (Which is a fine skill, but it’s not brand journalism.)

Everything you write as a brand journalist should be written with the audience in mind. So why wouldn’t you write your lede the way a journalist would write theirs? After all, your audience wants the “who, what, when, where, why, how” questions answered, too, right?

Mix it up a bit

Not every story a journalist (or brand journalist) writes starts the same basic way. The following examples are great ways to mix things up a bit — starting from the easiest to achieve and ending with the hardest.

First, take a look at this article from the BBC.

The writer could have written the “who, what, when, where, why” introduction. They could have written: 

“Kim Kardashian has spoken about being robbed at gunpoint in Paris last year in an interview on the Ellen DeGeneres Show”.

It would be completely accurate and perfectly acceptable. But the story becomes more interesting when you put a human angle in the opening sentence. In this case, the BBC journalist has told us how the robbery affected Kardashian, then she’s gone on to give us the “who, what, when, where, why” information in the next two sentences.

Often I’ll start with a traditional “who, what, when, where, why” introduction, get the whole story written, and then I’ll go back up to the top and put a new sentence before the introduction, to add a bit of emotion or interest, in just the way this article has done.  After all, sometimes the bare facts of the story aren’t the most interesting point — they aren’t the things that tell the best story.

All that information in the original opening sentence is still important (and you’ll use it, probably slightly reworded, in the next couple of sentences) but sometimes you want to give the reader a different experience, to entice them into the story rather than just hit them with facts. This is a simple technique that helps you achieve that.

Tease the reader

Another option is to appeal to the reader’s curiosity, like this article from the Mirror.

If you’re interested in Kim Kardashian, you’re going to want to know how she felt, so you’ll read on. And here’s what’s in the next couple of sentences of that story:

Once again, the “who, what, when, where, why” stuff comes next. You don’t actually find out how Kim felt until the next sentence — four paragraphs into the story. A tease like this is a great way to get a reader hooked into a story and draw them closer to your call to action.

Get creative (where it suits the story)

Once you have confidence with these sorts of techniques — once you’ve dabbled a bit with more creative introductions — you can really go for broke. Eventually, you’ll be skilled enough to go “Full Vanity Fair” — where the story is told in such an intoxicating way that, even though you hate Kim Kardashian, you can’t help but read it because the writing is so engaging.

This article spends ages telling the story of the night Kim Kardashian was robbed, but from a completely different perspective. It’s such a great idea. A great lede can catch the eye for many different reasons, but giving the reader a completely new twist, something fresh, is a great way to engage them.

Knowing what style to use

Whether you go in with the hard facts, the “who, what, when, where” question, or get more creative, is really up to you and the demands of your audience. Consider whom you’re writing for, how they consume their information, and which approach will work best for the article you’re writing. You should also consider when you’re going to publish it. Is it during the week, when your audience is likely to be busy? Or is it on the weekend, when they might have time to sit down and read the 2000-word “Vanity Fair” version?

I’ve used a news story as the example here because it’s hard to find four or five articles about the same topic within (for example) accounting, or spectacle retailing, or mining industry recruitment that are all written with such journalistic range. But, of course these techniques work just as well in brand journalism as traditional journalism. The constants here are:

  1. The need to impart important information
  2. The desire to tell a good story
  3. The demands of the audience.

It doesn’t matter if you’re writing about the latest bifocals or the government’s new taxation regulations; you always need to meet those three factors. Being able to write a good lede gives you the best possible chance of the article succeeding. In other words, it might suck to write a lede, but it doesn’t mean the lede has to suck.

  

If you’d rather someone else wrote your ledes for you, Lush Digital Media can take the pressure off. We have an expert team of journalists and editors who love doing this (way more than they love Kim Kardashian, we promise). Get in touch.

 

Like what you’ve read? Sign up to the Lush newsletter for fortnightly advice to help you market your business better, tips from our video production gurus, and a podcast or two from our favourite podcasting team, Brand Newsroom. In the meantime, you might enjoy these:

Guaranteed ways to unleash your inner creative beast

The secret to effective writing for business

11 Tips to write better headlines and titles

Brand Newsroom: How to deal with writer’s block

By | May 25th, 2017|Categories: Brand Journalism, Content Marketing, Storytelling, Writing|Tags: , |Comments Off on Brand Journalism: How to write a good lede