Before I begin, I need to get a single, cold hard truth out of the way: pretty much all of your target audience, and most of your communities, don’t care for your brand. There. I’ve said it. Now, let’s talk about what really matters.
Our recent Stories in Motion study revealed that the majority of consumers care very little for a brand or organisation – and re-sent salesy messaging – until they are on the path to purchase.
So, what does this mean for a brand’s communications team whose role it is to seek out and engage with existing and potential customers in order to secure a future sale? Moreover, what does this mean for brands who are shifting to a ‘digital first’ approach to customer engagement?
First and foremost, the concept of ‘value driven content’ must be something brands embrace. While almost every communications specialist was talking about ‘storytelling’ a few years ago, this hasn’t been brought to life in the way it should. If you are going to engage with customers outside of the sales funnel, you need to be talking to your audiences through stories that resonate and drive an emotional response.
To reach them, you need data. Data will quickly reveal what channels your audiences are using – the biggest challenge is mining for what matters. For those brands with a sprawling community spread across multiple demographics and geographies, this problem is further compounded. However, though this may seem daunting, the solution is simple. Remember my opening line - the fact that most of your audience doesn’t care for your brand. You must identify and engage with the few that do. We call this approach ‘hyper-atomising’ – segmenting your communities into hyper-niche audiences, identifying what drives these individuals to engage and designing your content marketing strategy around these niche interests.
With so much data available at your disposable – from Facebook and Twitter ads manager through to Google Analytics and a variety of listening tools – it is easy to identify ‘hot-data’, insight that reveals an audience behaviour or interest. The cross section between these and your own brand narrative is content gold.
But this is not the final piece in the puzzle. The last hurdle is to define the right medium (media) within these channels. Our Stories in Motion data revealed that all audiences have specific earned media preferences. By understanding these, and how your audience traverses from one piece of content to another, you will be one step closer to success. Mapping out these audience interest connections will enable you to nestle your content in discoverable locations. Your audiences need to be able to almost stumble across your content as these ‘casual encounters’ are what build brand preference and loyalty over time.
Being digital first is slowly becoming the new norm for most brands and organisations, and it will soon become a ‘do or die’ scenario. Reaching your audience through digital channels is not the greatest hurdle that modern day communicators will need to leap. It’s understanding what to deliver through those channels that will lead to success or failure.