Have you ever had a time in life where your perceptions of people and circumstance shift just ever so slightly? Having recently broken my foot and now spending my days hopping around on crutches, it’s really surprised me as to how curious people are. A normal commute to work would normally involve getting from a to b with nothing to report on in between, now it’s become a time for story-telling!

The introduction of crutches seems to draw in human natural curiosity. Random strangers stop to talk, ask what happened and then often share their own injury experiences. I love the fact that someone with absolutely no connection to me feels compelled to stop what they’re doing to engage in conversation. Everyone wants to share an opinion. It’s lovely that people care and it also has an evidently positive effect on their day too, because it allows them to feel useful and valued.

It’s a bizarre metaphor but my experience with meeting new people (whilst on crutches) is how I view consumer relations in content marketing:

Ignite curiosity: With a compelling content marketing strategy (my crutches!)

Encourage interaction: Be open to conversation with a new audience (random stranger)

Ask questions: Know your client, therefore discovering what makes them tick and what their needs and requirements are, i.e. make them feel valued (listen to the random strangers stories)

The crutches are in effect the piece of content that creates that initial raw connection. With that connection I find out how they relate to the product through their own circumstance and have an insight into how my product/strategy can benefit them. Confused?

When was the last time you felt valued as a customer? We’ve all been there - you’re walking around a retail store, a bored sales assistant ambles along and asks if you need help. They’re not even making eye contact, they don’t care if you’re there or not because they’re thinking of the large glass of wine waiting at home for them. But how refreshing is it when someone engages in actual conversation, values your opinion of their product and is genuinely interested to know about you and how their product can be of detriment. Authentic curiosity is an anomaly. We aren’t used to having real conversation with someone who is potentially going to engage in a sales pitch. But by taking the time in creating that raw connection it immediately shifts the relationship and elevates your brand in their mind.

Once that client/consumer is on board, maintain that relationship by involving them in the process, keep asking those questions and sharing ideas. My mum would say that to keep a man happy you must let them think that your idea is their idea and that an ego boost does no harm! Although I wouldn’t expect a client to be so involved they could develop a complete content marketing strategy, it does no harm in letting them feel that they are a part of the team! Everyone likes to feel like they belong. By being empathetic and recognising the client’s values and opinions it provides them with pride in their purchase, after all, the concept in content marketing strategy is largely based on their story anyway?

By asking questions it also demonstrates that it’s not about you, it’s about the audience you’re developing the product or strategy for. It sounds idealist and maybe a notion only for the smaller boutique companies, but it’s as true for the larger organisations too. Fox were recently looking for an innovative way to launch new movie ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’. During TV ad breaks, they offered Twitter users control in deciding what exclusive clip from the movie they’d like to view. By the next ad the votes had been counted and instead of a standard TV advert they received an exclusive clip from the new movie. By putting the content in the control of the viewer they are demonstrating that the campaign is not about them, it’s about the audience and what they want.

Audiences are at risk of content fatigue, no one cares about ego-centric content that only goes to prove that a company can do the job they’re making money to do. As well as working on our own relationships with clients, we work to mentor our clients on how they too can put their audience at the forefront at all times. A recent example is through a video we made for a humble not-for-profit organisation who do incredible work In our community. Through the subtle messaging of the video they have no need to shout about what they do….

Lucy Helliwell