Content Marketing, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Human Centred Service Design

Advertisement out, storytelling in. Are you in sync?

“Storytelling is by far the most underrated skill when it comes to business.”Gary Vaynerchuk

People are interested in stories not in an interruption in the stories. We go to movies to watch the story and advertisements are shown to us as an interruption. Most use this time to either go to washrooms or smoke rooms. At home on TV, we use advertisement time to do our personal work quickly and return before the story begins or use remote to swap channels.

Most marketers are seen as interruptions. Most marketers are not trusted.

As per the recent survey, only 4% people believe in Marketing and Advertising. As per the Gallup survey, advertising, salesperson, and telemarketers are least trusted professionals.

What are companies doing to counter this bizarre image of their marketing, sales and advertising teams?

Perhaps more aggressive marketing, sales, and advertising efforts.

“The ability to establish, grow, extend, and restore trust is the key professional and personal competency of our time.” tephen MR Covey.

Most companies are fighting in the red ocean. You may call it a herd mentality or rat race. Copying others is the strategy these herd mentality and rate race participants follow.

People go to the internet to consume content, not advertisement or marketing messages. This is an intentional act, where push doesn’t work but pull could be a game changer. Stories are read and seen while advertising and marketing messages are considered interruption and mostly ignored.   

A company can create Blue Ocean with this the trust focus strategy. Many readers would be knowing what blue oceans but for the benefit of all;

Blue ocean strategy generally refers to the creation by a company of a new, uncontested market space that makes competitors irrelevant and that creates new consumer value often while decreasing costs. 

The good news is now it is possible to regain the lost trust. When the brand is trusted their marketing, advertising. and salespeople are also trusted.

It all starts with the culture change. There are two routes to approach ‘Selling’.

  • ·     Only Sale, short-term approach: push marketing/outbound marketing – low trust – long turnaround time – commodity pricing.
  • ·     Sale through Help, long-term approach: pull marketing/inbound marketing – high trust – low turnaround time – premium pricing

The remaining content is about the 2nd option. There are 4 approaches a company can take in this story crave and trust deficit world. All the four approaches can go hand in hand.

  1. ·     Thought Leadership:

This is difficult but powerful trust builder.

“Thought Leaders are informed opinion leaders and the go-to people in their field of expertise.” Denise Brosseau’s book Ready to Be A Thought Leader?

Whether it’s individual or a company, anyone can assume the position of a thought leader. People trust thought leaders. Seth Godin is a thought leader, so whatever he does attract his followers. People trust him for who he is.

Companies choose to become thought leaders because it enhances their reputation, builds relationships with clients and prospects, and ultimately increases revenues. But the approach is fundamentally different from traditional marketing.

Thought leadership sells ideas, expertise, and authenticity – not products and services. Over time, this builds trust – and that’s a vital asset that can ultimately lead to sales conversations.(1)

Thought leadership content is not sales or marketing content. It adds value to the readers’ life. People go to the internet to consume content, not advertisement or marketing messages.

The real estate veteran Anuj Puri left JLL, and started his own venture, Anarock, a real estate broking firm. He has taken thought leadership approach to building the brand of his new venture. (This is extremely important for startups where the trust is low.) His following posts have nothing to do with selling real estate but it adds value to the readers’ business/life.

Rana Kapoor is another thought leader, who has used thought leadership approach to build his new bank, Yes Bank. His write-ups on the following subjects are not marketing messages but thoughts people would like to read.

  1. ·     Content Marketing:

When your marketing is Content driven, target audience knows the brand is interested in helping and educating them and not just selling by any means. People are interested to solve their problem or enhance their happiness. Buying a product or availing a service is the result of either of the two needs.

When a company created content is focussed on problem-solving or happiness enhancement, target audience trusts the brand before they decide to deal with the brand.

The buyers pass through three stages before their buying decision.  These are awareness, consideration, and decision.  Earlier the brand captures them in the journey, chances of the sale improves.

Content marketing-driven approach with carefully created content, have the power to differentiate the brand from the rest. This is a where storyteller and interrupters are distinguished.

I have previously written about how Colgate is using content marketing to create content people would like to read and not avoid.

DBS Bank in India has used Content Marketing approach to get the engagement of the target audience with their Chilli Paneer Contest. Imagine a connection between a bank and Chili Paneer! But this campaign has made the bank popular on the social platforms.

  1. Customer Experience:

This is the new age marketing. When customers review the brand online, the band has nothing more to say. Customer Experience is the end result of endeavour of an organization.  Like profit is the bottom-line for the company, customer experience is the bottom-line for the customers. Everything that an organization does, results in the final customer experience. This is why customer journey assumes extreme importance while designing the customer experience.

Customer journey maps give a holistic view of the customer touch points and experience at each of the touch points. Many companies have no clue about their customer journeys maps.

Does your company use customers’ journey maps to design the customer experience?

Good customer reviews make the company trustworthy for the target audience, which no amount of marketing and advertising can do.

  • Panthalams is a hotel in Thekkady in Kerala. On trip advisor out of 238 customer reviews, they have 91% five-stars reviews, and 7%, four-stars reviews.
  • Pepper Country is another hotel in Kerala having 523 customer reviews on Trip Advisor. 82% are five stars and 14% are four stars.

Do they need any marketing campaigns? What would people like to read? Customer Stories or Marketing messages? Trust is established immediately where it is needed the most, i.e. in the unknown city.

  1. Community Breeding

Many companies still afraid to go social. They assume without their being on social media no one is talking about them. The truth is otherwise. People are talking about every brand on social media, whether the brand facilities the dialogue or not.

Sandy Carter of IBM calls these companies’ BOLD companies those who are proactively designing their business processes around the social media. She is right. It does take BOLD mindset to go social proactively.

Create a community of people whom you wish to serve. Nurture them, help them, get ideas from them, and serve them.  Attention deficit is the reality of life and Engagement is the rule of the game. A dedicated community serves multiple purposes. It builds trust, friendship, and brings business with ease.

The way we listen, the things we pay attention to, the approach which can create trust, the span of attention, and the multiple things demand our time, all have changed. Marketing communication can’t remain the same. Move on or be left out.

“People are looking for a connection. Tell a good enough story about your brand and people will not only get invested, they’ll want to buy from you.”

Handpicked related post: How Colgate is thriving with Content Marketing

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