Tag Archives: MarCom

5 points to consider for your content strategy

26 Jan

Content marketing is gaining prominence especially with service marketers. According to Content Marketing Institute 58% B2B marketers in North America plan to increase their content marketing budgets in 2014. But it’s very easy to go from sharing relevant information with customers who want it to spamming. As companies increase their efforts to align content as a part of their marketing strategy they must carefully consider the route they want to take.

A comprehensive Content Strategy is key to ensure you are sending the right message to the right people. Here are 5 points you must consider to ensure you are on the right track:

  1. Bridge – Make your content strategy the bridge between your business goals and customer needs. With several channels at a content marketers disposal today, it can be the most effective means of user engagement.
  2. Prioritize – Define what you want to say, to whom and what channels are best suited for your target audience. Flooding people with content they don’t care about is not going to help you.
  3. Plan – There is really no way ad-hoc publishing is going to achieve your goals. You need to decide on your message and its dissemination plan in advance.
  4. Brand – Build brand ambassadors who can connect with your audience and give a personality to your message. These will be the mouthpiece for your message
  5. Engage – Find ways to engage your audience with continuous conversation (not a monologue!) instead of random, infrequent interactions. Make users your content generators and leverage the power of the crowd to spread your message. And ALWAYS keep it interesting

Take look at these great videos from Coca Cola where they outline their approach to content till 2020 in a most engaging way!

Remember, great content is one that is appreciated by the audience because it reaches them when and how they want it. So the next time you are fretting over low social engagement levels or a dip in your content downloads take a fresh look at your approach to content with the above 5 points in mind.

When just making a change isn’t enough

4 Jan

In the office where I work, we recently got a new swanky coffee machine, to replace the one that was so out-of-date that it was almost an antique. It had more options, better coffee and instant options. Almost everyone hated it. Why? Because no one knew how to work it! It was a shocking change. We went home one evening with our good old coffee maker in place, and came back the next day to this new, shiny contraption that denied the morning cuppa to almost everyone.

This is what Facebook has also done to its interface; it has made too many changes too quickly for users to adapt to it. See the response of a Facebook user, who went on a vacation and came back to find his social universe incomprehensible:

 

In a book about innovation that I was reading, there was an example about re-inventing the toothpaste cap to make it more user-friendly. Apparently due to the traditional screw on design of the cap, a lot of people would leave the tube uncapped and wasted a lot of paste. To overcome this, the company came up with push down caps. Sales dropped!  Consumers, used to screw on caps since childhood, were unwilling to change their behavior and weren’t comfortable with the new caps. Ultimately the company had to come up with a new version of the cap that took into account the consumer preference.

There are many such examples, perhaps the most memorable being the “New coke” vs. the “Classic coke”. Why do these changes fail? We’ve all heard that to stay ahead of the competition we need to constantly innovate, evolve and change and we run about trying to do just that. But change for the sake of it just leads to a waste of time, efforts and resources.  

What can one do to avoid this scenario?

  • Take customer behaviors into account. Long standing habits, cultural preferences etc. can be hard to break.
  • Introduce the change gradually
  • Educate the customer about the change. What have you done, why was it needed, how will it benefit the customer
  • Take a dip-stick survey to find out if your customer is happy with the “new and improved” you are offering
  • Re-trace your steps and don’t hesitate to pull back if something is not working

Have you had such an experience with change?

3 tips to grab eyeballs – how to get your customers’ attention

2 Jan

It’s easier to know what your customer wants when you are face to face with them. Probably that’s an advantages that sales guys have over marketing folks. Marketing is sadly quite isolated and does not get much face time with the target audience of their messaging. They depend on analyst reports, market research reports and various kinds of surveys to determine what the customer is possibly looking for. Quite tough to please everyone that way!

While navigating these difficult waters of product/service messaging to ensure customer attention and interest having a few rules of thumb can be helpful. Though there are multiple tools and techniques available to create a successful message, for me, 3 simple things have worked well:

Bling it – When it comes to bling, look no further than Bollywood (for the uninitiated, it’s the Hindi movie industry). Some movies have managed to pull crowds solely based on the promotional campaigns that showcased glitz, glamour, thrill and adventure. I call these elements that evoke aspirational feelings in the target audience; Bling. The aim is to create a feeling of “I want” in the customers’ mind. Simply put, add some shine to what you are selling and make it stand out from the crowd.

What’s new – The same old stuff in a new package just won’t do it anymore. The customers are much savvier today than they were just a few years ago. Today information exchange is instant, if I like/dislike a product/service/campaign I can let thousands of people know about it at the click of a button (long live Facebook). Product reviews are available the instant something hits the market, and in the case of a hyped product like an iPhone the speculations are rife much before the launch. In this digitally buzzing marketplace it is impossible to pass of old goods as new. You MUST have a differentiator.

What’s in it for me (WIIFM) – instead of going at it in a roundabout way, highlight in clean, simple messages, what’s in it for the customer. WIIFM can be related to aspiration, experience, lifestyle, utility, product attribute, convenience, or emotion. Some examples:

  • Gillette: the best a man can get. The closest shave
  • BMW: the ultimate driving machine
  • L’Oreal: because you’re worth it

Let me know what has worked for you.

3 simple rules of clear communication

31 Dec

This being my first blog post as a marketer, I thought why not start it by writing about the most important thing that a marketer needs to do? I.e. communicate! Label it what you will – MarCom, product marketing, services marketing, branding, advertising, content marketing; these are just ways, means and channels of creating, packaging and distributing the message.

The goal of every marketer is to get the message across to the customer/ stakeholder and engage their attention and interest. Period!

However, in this age of information overload, the challenge most marketers face is getting their message heard and understood over a hub-bub of millions of other such messages. Today, an individual receives overwhelming amounts of complex data and information throughout the day.  Think personally, how many commercials, mailers, jingles, banners do you come in contact with on an average day? A 100? 500? more? Would you care to stop what you are doing and make sense of all that? Hell no! We, like everyone else around us, want something that is simple and conveys what’s in it for us clearly without beating around the bush.

So how do you ensure that your message has a good chance of being received? For me the 3 simple rules work:

  • Clarity – Be clear about what you want to say. If you are confused about your message, rest assured that your customer will be too. Internal flip-flopping and misunderstanding will garble a message to make it incomprehensible to the end consumers leaving them with a feeling of “eh! What was that again?”
  • Brevity– Be brief. Don’t write a book where two words will do. Obviously I’ll leave it at that J
  • Consistency – Stick to your message whatever the packaging. In every communication that goes out from your organization make sure that the message is reinforced. You might feel you are repeating yourself but your customer out there might be hearing it for the first time. Repeating a message is a must for making it stick and stickiness will determine the success of your campaign.

What according to you would be the most important thing about communication that marketers need to understand?