The Best Policy – Honesty in Content Marketing

Though it might run contrary to traditional views of marketing, honesty in your content marketing is an essential part of creating content that will work for your audience. Building faith in your product and your business, honest content marketing will help you create better and more productive relationships with your customers. In todays article, I look at four ways that honest communication creates better content.

1) Genuine passion matters

This is a point I’ve raised before, but it has particular relevance to the topic and it’s always worth re-stating. Your customers know what matters to them, and they care about the problems that your product solves. That means they can tell almost instantly if you don’t have passion for what you are discussing in your content marketing. Content needs to come from subjects you care about. Don’t try to fake an interest in something just because you think it’s the latest hot topic. If you don’t care about the topic, either avoid it, or tap someone who does care about it to create content around the topic for you.

2) Nobody wants to be lied to

A good relationship with your customers is something that takes time and effort to build, and it can be undone in an instant if they find out that you have lied to them or obscured information. If you know that there will be an issue that will change something you have already promoted, whether that’s changes in services, reductions in product lines or changes in pricing, be honest with your customers, apologise and let them know what is happening. Honesty up front can help prevent serious damage to your reputation down the line.

3) Admit who you’re not for

No product or service on this planet is right for everyone. You’ve already narrowed down your market by identifying the demographics and customer profiles that match who buys your product. You can further hone your market by being honest about what your product does and doesn’t do, and which problems it can’t solve as well as what it can. Admitting this up-front might narrow your customer base, but it also means you reduce the risk of alienating customers who would be unsatisfied with your product. A customer who knows one product isn’t right for them might come back later if you add a product that meets their needs; a disappointed customer is probably lost to you forever.

4) Own your issues

Just as no product is for everyone, it’s also true that no product is perfect. In all probability, however good they are, it’s likely that your products and services have some areas they’re weak in. Again, being honest about these points means that you avoid potential customer disappointment, and providing a roadmap for when you might overcome those issues means that your customers know what they can expect from you in the future.

Honesty about the reality of your business doesn’t just mean better customer relations; it also helps you stand apart from your competitors in a crowded market and build a reputation as a company that consumers can trust.

If you want to build customer relations that will drive your business forwards, John Rowbottom Design and Marketing can help. Visit us at jrdm.com.au to see what we can do for you.

5 ways to build better customer relationships

The most important asset that a company can develop is a positive and understanding relationship with its customers. Understanding your customers means that you understand their needs, where to reach them, and what messaging will be most effective, saving you time, effort and money when it comes to creating your marketing campaigns. In today’s article, I look at five ways you can improve your understanding of your customer base and build better relations.

1) Talk to your customers

This is a simple point, but it can’t be overstated enough. Talking to your customers about their experiences and their needs is the best and simplest way to improve your understanding of them. Nobody knows more about what your customers want than they do.

To get the best results from your customer contact, you need to have a plan for what you want to achieve. Ideally, you should choose one or two key points you want to get more information on, and ask questions specifically addressing those points. Without focus, you’ll be limited to a very generic understanding of your customers, which is of limited use in improving the customer experience. Take care, as well, to try to remove biased or leading questions; you want the real and honest opinions of your customers, not something influenced by what you might want to hear.

2) Take advantage of analytics

This isn’t the first or last time that I’ll praise the usefulness of analytics on this blog. Every website owner has access to vast troves of information on how their customers use and interact with their website. Analytics can show you what your customer like, whet they don’t, what pages are attracting the most views and what content is working for your audience. All of this is vital information, and something you should always take advantage of. Use analytics to see where you can improve your sites user interface to draw more attention to the pages you want to see more traffic on, what content to focus on developing, and what your customers most want from your business.

3) Know your customer’s interests

It might not seem important to know what your customers are interested in beyond the scope of your business, but there are definite advantages that you can take from knowing the other habits and interests of your customers. Understanding what your customers engage with gives you an understanding of their values and their drives, and is an incredible mine of opportunities for content marketing or cross-promotional campaigns. Being able to talk with your customers about the things that matter to them makes it easier to capture their interest, and positions you as an organisation they are more likely to trust.

4) Take personas further

Customer personas that are only based on simple demographic data such as age and gender are of some use, but personas can be taken much further. If you have followed the advice in this article, you should have a much deeper understanding of your customers, incorporating information on how they use your product, how they use your website, their attitudes towards your company, their purchasing habits, and their interests beyond your business. All of this is information that should shape how you interact with your customers. Once you have it, use it, and incorporate it into customer personas that more closely capture the types of customers you have.

5) Understand the customer journey

Mapping the customer journey lets you understand exactly what is needed to turn a customer from a prospect to a closed sale. That journey might be simple or complex, but the only way you will understand it, and how to improve it, is to take the time to map it out. Look at each step in the journey and consider what you can do to reduce resistance, improve the customer experience, and provide better service. An improved customer journey will increase your sales volume and create happier, more loyal customer from your leads.

If you want to build an in-depth understanding of your customer base, John Rowbottom Design and Marketing can help. Visit us online at jrdm.com.au and find out what we can do for your business.

Funny business – using humour in your content marketing

When you work on your content marketing, what tone of voice are you using? For many businesses, its easy to fall into the trap of creating volumes of dry, corporate content that might sound good in the boardroom, but will leave your customers cold. In today’s article, I discuss ways that you can use humour and tone to make your content connect with your audience.

1) Don’t be afraid of humour, especially on social media

How much should you be using humour in your content? To a great extent, that depends on the platform you are using. Social media is one of the most natural homes for funnier content, with users looking for bite-sized, entertaining content more than in-depth solutions or stiff corporate communication. A more informal tone when communicating with your customers is ideal here, and helps them to feel that they’re connecting with a person, not just a company. Short-form video content that showcases your business in an amusing way works well here too, helping you to stand out from the crowd and win audience attention.

2) Don’t ignore the power of memes

Memes are about as far from traditional marketing and communication as you can get, which means that many businesses shy away from using them out of a fear that it will make them look ‘unprofessional’. But used well, memes can connect with your audience on a personal level, and their easily-sharable nature means that a meme that connects with your customers will go on to be shared with their friends and family, widening your reach without any further effort – the holy grail of content marketing!

3) Be natural

Like everything else in content marketing, humour needs to feel genuine and natural. Whether you’re creating memes, email headlines or social media posts, forced humour will turn your audience away just as fast as fake enthusiasm or unnatural language would. Don’t reach for jokes. If something isn’t offering up easy humour, or if humour isn’t your strong suit, then don’t force it. But if you or someone in your business has a gift for comedy, take advantage of it!

4) Make the content fit the context

It goes without saying that humour isn’t appropriate in every context. While most products and services can benefit from occasional humour, there are a few that would never touch it. Trust that you have a good enough idea as a business owner of your company and your customers, and go with your instincts. Additionally, remember that some situations – customer complaints chief among them – are not good times to use humour no matter what your business provides.

If you want to widen the ways you promote your business, John Rowbottom Design and Marketing can help. To find out what we can do for you, visit us at jrdm.com.au.

5 ways to be a better content marketer

Content marketing is the backbone of any digital marketing strategy. Used well, content marketing is cheap, effective and engages your customers in a way that no other marketing can. However, getting it right can take a lot of work. In today’s article, I look at five ways to make sure that you are putting your effort into the right areas and making content that will meet the goals of your business.

1) Write with passion

If you’re creating content for your own business, this should hopefully be an easy thing to achieve, but it’s worth saying all the same. The first and most important thing when putting together content marketing is for you to have a genuine passion for what you are writing about. The aim of content marketing is to create material that will draw your customer’s attention. If what you are writing is flat and uninspired, or if you are trying to fake an interest, your readers will know it. Make sure that you care about the topics you are covering, and you’ll be well on the way to creating content your readers will care about too.

2) Write with a goal

Always remember that content marketing needs a specific purpose. While it’s important that your readers will be interested in what you’re saying, you also need to bear in mind exactly what you are trying to get your reader to do with each piece, whether that be to sign up to an email, to engage with your website or to buy a product. Keep your intended goal in mind as you create a piece of content, and make sure that your content is leading the customer towards that goal.

3) Use analytics

If you follow this blog regularly, you’ll notice this is a piece of advice that I’ve given again and again, and it’s worth repeating. Pay attention to your analytics. You need to be sure that the content you create is resonating with your audience, and you need to know which pieces you have created are getting the most attention. Using your analytics will show you what your best performing content is, which means you’ll know what works for your audience and what doesn’t.

4) Master research

The internet is a treasure trove of information that can be used to inspire and provide material for content. If you’re not already great at research, take the time to try to improve your skill in the area. Ideally, you should be able to look through the data available to identify trends in your industry, analyse market data, identify new opportunities and generate new content to take advantage of them.

5) Make use of marketing automation

As I said at the beginning of this article, content creation can take a lot of work. Marketing automation takes some of that work off your shoulders, not just scheduling content for your website but also letting you set up email and content flows that will automatically send your leads the content to nurture them from their first interest to becoming a potential client, saving you time and energy.

If you want to build a better content marketing strategy for your business, John Rowbottom Design and Marketing can help. Visit us online at jrdm.com.au to find out what we can do for you.

Planning for the unexpected

If recent years have shown anything, it’s that we can’t guarantee that tomorrow will continue to look the same as today. Unexpected change can come from any angle, and like with any section of a business, your marketing needs to be able to adapt to the changes that might come along. In today’s article, I look at four ways that you can prepare yourself and your marketing to deal with unexpected change.

1) Leave room in your plans for change

A marketing calendar gives you the opportunity to lay out the content that you will be using ahead of time. This is a great tool for any marketer, helping to ensure that you have material on hand at all times, and that you are prepared for predictable events such as holidays, sales and your businesses regular sales shifts. However, a good marketing calendar should not be so packed with content that it leaves you with no room to manoeuvre. A good rule of thumb to follow is to break your content down into three main categories; one third of the material is new content, one third is repurposing that content for other formats, and one third is left open, allowing you to create material that is relevant to your needs at the time it goes live.

2) Plan for possibilities

While you can’t predict everything that might come up to disrupt your usual marketing plan, there are some things that you can assume will happen even if you are not sure when. Things like a disruption in foot traffic, a very visible customer complaint or an increase in demand for one of your products can all impact on what you might need from your marketing. Take the time to think through some of the events that you might encounter and come up with contingency plans you might use to offset any issues or take advantage of any opportunities.

3) Have a growth strategy

It’s surprising, but many businesses don’t have a plan in place for the one thing that they most want to happen – the growth of their business. This is a more specific version of point two, but it covers something that every business should be able to expect, even if you don’t know exactly when and where it will happen. Be sure that you have a plan in place for what will happen as your business grows, and how you will orient your marketing to best handle and manage the opportunities that growth will give you.

4) Take advantage of evergreen content

Sometimes, no amount of planning will prepare you for what has come up. Sometimes, nothing you have planned will fit with current events, and there isn’t much your marketing can do to take advantage of the situation. At those points, don’t be afraid to run some of your evergreen content, such as general advice or guides, to at least keep your content fresh and updated.

John Rowbottom Design and Marketing can help you build a marketing strategy that works for your business. If you would like to find out more about what we can do for you, visit us online at jrdm.com.au today.

Are you working too hard on your content marketing?

Content marketing is a lot of work. Creating enough material to ‘feed the beast’ and keep your content channels lively can demand a lot of any marketing team, but like any other aspect of business, simply working harder isn’t always the right answer. Pouring too much effort into the wrong aspects of content marketing can severely hurt your success and waste energy that you could better spend elsewhere. In today’s article, I look at signs that you might be working too hard on your content marketing, and how to better focus your energy to get the results you want.

1) You’re over-thinking your content

As marketers, we have a range of data and information on our customers, our products and our campaigns, and we spend a lot of time and effort to make sure that we incorporate that data into what we produce – and that’s not a bad thing. But that can turn sour when we find ourselves relying only on data and forgetting the passion and drive that we have for the product we are selling. Content marketing goes out to an audience that cares about your products, or that cares about the problems your product solves. They live that experience, meaning they have a genuine connection to what you offer… and they’ll be able to tell if you don’t. If you find that your content is more about numbers and data than it is about a belief in your product, then you’re likely creating content that won’t resonate with your market. Always remember to put the passion you have for what you do into the content you create, and you’ll create content that will resonate with your audience.

2) You’re focusing on the hard-sell

There are a lot of marketing mediums where a hard sell can work, provided that it goes out to the right customer. Content marketing isn’t one of them. While you might be passionate and excited about having a new product and eager to tell your customer every feature that it has (and good for you if you are – see point 1!), no customer comes to content marketing to be sold to. Content marketing is about showing your customers that you understand them and their needs, providing content that is entertaining or helpful, and then introducing a connection between those needs and your products. If your content is falling anywhere outside the 80:20 ratio – 80% content, 20% sales, then you’re focusing too much on the hard sell, and you’re going to lose your audiences’ attention.

3) You’re not using internal resources

No marketer is an island. If you find that you’re struggling to come up with ideas that will connect with your customers, remember that other parts of the business have access to information on what your customers think and feel on a daily basis. Whether you’re a one-person operation or a part of a larger business, consider the information you can take from the customer-facing parts of the business – sales and services. Salespeople know exactly what your customers want and need, because they talk to them every day about those needs, and they know what aspects of your products are most important to those customers. Service staff know the issues that customers encounter with your product and the problems they most often need solutions to. If you are a sole trader, then consider the things your customers tell you and incorporate them into your content marketing. If you’re a part of a larger organisation, then take the time to talk with your customer-facing colleagues and find out what they know about your customers, and you’ll likely come up with dozens of new ideas for content that you can be sure will be relevant to your audience.

4) You’ve lots of content, but none of it is performing well

This can be one of the most insidious issues that you can face in content marketing. In the rush to fill the void, you’ve created page after page of content, but none of it is seeing the type of results you would like. While it’s important to create content on a regular basis to keep your business visible, it’s also important to make sure that content is relevant, and that it is targeted to the right parts of your audience. In many ways, this is the other side of the coin to my first point; don’t ignore the data that you have on your customers either. Make sure that you have built a strategy for your content marketing, and that everything you create is speaking to the customers you want to reach. Always know who you are trying to reach, what you are trying to say to them and why you are using the content platforms you are. Use the right platforms, the right formats, and talk about the right issues to reach your customers, and you’re more likely to create content that will perform the way you want it to.

Want to go further? John Rowbottom Design and Marketing can help you to develop content that will connect with your customers. To get started with your new content strategy, visit jrdm.com.au today.

Four surprising content marketing facts

Content marketing is an ever-changing field, and what was true yesterday might not be true tomorrow. On top of that, even for a field as new as content marketing, common wisdom doesn’t always match up with reality. In today’s article, I look at four facts that might change what you think about content marketing.

1) Content marketing builds brand loyalty

As anyone who has ever looked with jealousy at Apple’s dedicated customer base knows, brand loyalty is a hugely valuable resource. Loyal customers aren’t just people who will regularly return to you, they are also frequently evangelists for your business, letting their friends and family know just why they should come to you. Word of mouth is some of the most powerful marketing available; people may be sceptical of your advertising, but they’ll almost always believe a trusted friend.

Good content marketing helps to create brand loyalty by showing your customers that you understand them and their needs, and by providing them with a reason to get excited about your business. If you can create content that forms bonds between you and your customers, you’ll go a long way towards building a relationship that will have a massive potential payoff.

2) Repurposed content can often beat original content

Not every piece of content marketing needs to be completely original. Over half of all content marketers will utilise content they have culled from other sources and repurpose it rather than relying entirely on original material. Don’t be afraid to take inspiration from other articles or pieces of content that you have seen. Provided that the content is re-worked to suit your audience and your needs, and provided that you are taking elements you have seen and not lifting content wholesale from other creators, a repurposed piece of content will perform as well as, or better than, a wholly original piece.

3) Email is still the leading form of content marketing

Despite the growth of other platforms, from social media to video to blogs and beyond, email marketing is still the most popular form of content. Remember that email has several benefits – it will be delivered directly to your customers in a place that they regularly check, it can combine the best elements of social media and blogging, and if you are doing it correctly it will only be delivered to people who have specifically opted in to communication from you. By communicating to an audience that already has an interest in your business, you are putting your message in front of people who are the most likely to act on it, meaning a higher chance of them making a purchase. Though it may seem outmoded, email should always be a key part of any content marketing strategy.

4) There’s no one right way to handle content marketing

If the world were a simpler place, marketers would be able to rely on one simple method for their content marketing – one correct strategy, one best platform, one best message. Unfortunately, life is never that simple. Your content marketing strategy will always be as unique as your business is. The platforms that work best, the messages that most resonate and the types of content that will be most effective will always be different for every business. In practice, like with everything in your marketing plan, this means never assuming anything will be a success. Test everything, find out what works best, use that to shape your content, and then test again. Even a successful strategy will shift and change over time, so keeping on top of your data and tracking your content’s performance is a constant priority.

John Rowbottom Design and Marketing can help you to build a content marketing strategy that works for your business. If you’d like to take your content marketing further, visit us online at jrdm.com.au today.

Five (more) elements of great landing pages

A strong landing page is an essential part of any marketing campaign, letting you get your message to your customers, capture their attention and generate leads that will help you to grow your business. In a previous article I listed five things you can do to build effective and successful landing pages, but like any part of marketing there is always more that you can do to enhance and optimise your output! In today’s article, I look at five more things you can do to improve your landing pages and get better results.

1) Keep your goals in mind

Maybe the most important thing to bear in mind when creating a landing page is that it should be focussed on one specific goal. Don’t make the mistake of treating your landing pages the way you would treat your company’s website; a landing page needs to have one clear, specific call to action, one offer or solution that will engage your customer’s interest. By focussing on that one aspect, you keep your customers attention and ensure that they remain engaged with your conversion goal.

2) Know your audience

As with any part of your marketing mix, it’s important to bear in mind who it is that you are trying to reach with your landing page. You should already have a clear idea of who your customers are, how they think and what their path to a purchase looks like, so make sure that your landing page reflects that. Make sure that you are using the right language, the right imagery, and including the right information to speak to the specific customers that you are trying to reach. One of the best things about landing pages is that you have a high level of control over which parts of your audience will see which page, which means you can and should be taking the opportunity to customise your landing page to the sections of your customer base that will be using it.

3) Use the right images

Images engage the emotions of your customers, and the right images will draw them in and keep them engaging with your content. You should include a ‘hero image’ that showcases the product or service that you are using, ideally one that shows the benefits of what you are offering. Also, be sure that your images and your copy compliment each other. If your headline and your copy reflect the same mood and context as your images, they’ll go a long way to retaining your audience’s interest.

4) Put what matters above the fold

Anything that falls ‘below the fold’ – in digital terms, anything that your users will have to scroll the screen to see – is less likely to be seen and less likely to be acted on. It’s important that you keep the most important elements of your landing page above the fold. Your headline, your key paragraphs of information, your hero image, your social proof, your call to action and your capture form should all be visible without the user having to scroll. Keep those elements visible to your users, and you’ll significantly increase your conversions.

5) Use social proof

Social proof is an incredibly powerful tool. If you can demonstrate to your customers that your product or service is already solving the problems that your user has, for people like them, then you’ve given them a reason to believe that it will work for them too. Customer reviews and testimonials are one of the best tools you have at your disposal to prove the effectiveness of what you are selling. It’s important to make sure that your testimonials are believable. Anyone can easily write a fake testimonial, but making sure that you have the full name of your customer, their position within a company, a picture of the customer or even a full video testimonial from them all make it easier for your customer to see that a testimonial is real and reliable.

From individual pages to complete campaigns, John Rowbottom Design and Marketing can help you take control of every aspect of your marketing. If you would like to find out what we can do for you, visit us at jrdm.com.au today.

4 ways to refresh your marketing

Once you have set a strategy for your marketing and built out your campaigns, it can be very tempting to leave things untouched – after all, if it worked yesterday, it should work tomorrow, right? If that sounds like you, then there’s every chance that your failing to take advantage of opportunities that could lift your marketing campaigns and see them operating more effectively. In today’s article, I look at four ways to refresh your marketing and make sure you’re getting the best results.

1) Check your look

The look and feel of your marketing, from your website to your logo to the layout of your fliers, is probably one of the first things that you developed when you created your marketing strategy. It’s also the thing that most companies leave unchanged. That might be fine, but the older your design is, the more likely it is that design trends have moved on. Take a look at your brand and design, and ask yourself how they compare to the look and feel of other companies in your sector. Consider whether your image still expresses the way that you want to be seen, and ask whether it appeals to the people who make up the majority of your customer base. If you don’t like the answer to any of those questions, then it’s probably time to change your look.

2) Audit your marketing material

It’s a good idea to regularly check to make sure that your marketing material is performing the way you want it to. The best way to do this, as always, is to track real results and monitor how customers are reaching your business, and what steps they’ve taken to get there. Being able to identify which parts of your marketing mix are performing best means you will have a clear idea of what is and isn’t working. If your social media campaigns are bringing in huge numbers, but your website is leaving customers cold, that’s a good indicator of where you need to focus your attention to improve your marketing message.

3) Optimise content

If something is working well, take advantage of it. If you notice that a particular piece of content or a particular marketing campaign is seeing excellent results, that’s a sign that your customers would like to see more like it. If a blog post has gotten a lot of attention, consider exploring similar topics. Also, think of how successful content can be repurposed on other platforms. A high performing blog post could be converted into an infographic, a video, or a podcast. Similarly, if certain topics see little interest, your customers likely don’t consider the subject relevant to them or their needs, and you most likely do not need to address the topic in your marketing.

4) Consider your product

You can have the best marketing in the world, but if your business isn’t meeting your customer’s needs you still won’t be a success. As you consider your marketing, it is also worth checking to see that your products and services match what the market wants. Talk to your customers, identify their pain points and see if there are ways you can better meet their needs – whether it’s in the form of better pricing, more convenient service, a wider product range, or simply stocking a particular item. You may only have to make a small change to what you offer, but if that change helps better serve your customers the results will be significant.

If you want to make sure that you’re taking advantage of every possible opportunity, John Rowbottom Design and Marketing can help you build marketing that works for your business – visit jrdm.com.au to find out how we can help you.

Taking every advantage

When building a marketing campaign, it’s important to make sure that you stand out from your competition and take advantage of every opportunity you have to set yourself apart. In todays article, I look at how to identify and utilise your competitive advantage to build stronger and more effective campaigns.

What is your competitive advantage

Every business is different, and every business has something that sets it apart from its competitors. Correctly identifying what points of difference exist between you and your competition mean that you can focus your business and marketing efforts in highlighting that difference, giving your customers a reason to chose you over your competitors.

You might differentiate yourself based on your price, your location, the expertise of your staff, your hours, the range of products you stock, the service you provide or any of a multitude of other options. Identifying what specific advantages you have means investigating your business and comparing it to your competitors.

Perform a competitive audit

To identify what makes you different from your competitors, you need to understand what they offer as well as what you offer. Take a look at your competitors and at their marketing and identify what they offer to their customers. Contrast them against your own business and see what they do differently. Evaluate the differences between your business and theirs and try to understand the business reasons behind their differences, what problems their products and services solve for their customers, and how they do so. Once you know the key differences between business and your competitors, you can more clearly see which aspects of your business offer benefits to your customers that they can’t get elsewhere.

Talk to your customers

Nobody knows more about what your customers want than they do. Talk to the people who use your business and find out why they come to you. Find out what needs they have that aren’t being served by other businesses, and what they would look for in an ‘ideal’ business. This is also a great time to make sure that your marketing is reaching the right people in the right way; talk to your customers about your marketing and see if it is discussing the things that matter to them.

Showcase your advantages

Once you know what sets you apart from your competitors in a way that matters to your customers, focus on those points. Make sure every piece of marketing you create clearly communicates the things that your company excels in. Focusing on the competitive advantages you have, in a way that solves your customers problems, will lead customers to you faster than anything else.

If you want to build campaigns that showcase the best of your company, JRDM can help. To find out more, visit us at jrdm.com.au today.