Make your content legendary with the Hero’s Journey

Everyone wants to be the hero. More to the point, everyone is the hero of their own story, the tale we tell ourselves of our life and how it’s going. Storytelling is a huge part of our culture, and can form the backbone of a great marketing campaign; after all, at least a part of your content should be the story of your company, your product and your customers. If you want to tell incredible, captivating stories around your brand, then the Hero’s Journey is an excellent tool to do just that, setting out the framework for stories that will engage and inspire your customers.

1) What is the Hero’s Journey?

The Hero’s Journey is a framework that is common to a lot of great stories, from myths and legends, to religion, to the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. Essentially, the Heroes Journey tells the story of a person who starts from humble beginnings, is called to adventure, experiences hardship, gathers strength, overcomes a great evil, gains reward and returns to a life that is better than it was before. This simple framework underpins a wide range of stories, and what works for a tale of high fantasy can also work for a story of your customer’s journeys.

2) How does it apply to marketing?

The first thing to remember is that great content marketing isn’t about the story of your company. Great content marketing is about the story of your customers, and the ways your company can help with their problems. When you bear that in mind, the benefits you can get from the Hero’s Journey become clear – you can use the format to help you tell a story of your customer, their challenges and the steps that they take to overcome them. Your customer is the hero, while your company, your services or your product become the aid they receive along the way.

3) How does the Hero’s Journey shape my content?

The Hero’s Journey is a simple format that can be applied to a customer’s journey in a number of ways, but here is one example. The hero – your customer – is introduced. They feel that something is lacking from their life, but are unsure of how to fill this need. At first, they are afraid to face the challenges in front of them, knowing they have an issue they don’t know how to surpass. Enter your company, whose advice and tools show the hero that they can overcome their challenges. The hero begins their journey, meets new friends, and faces the challenge they once doubted they could overcome. Through the help you have given them and the confidence it has let them develop, the hero overcomes their challenge, reaches their goal, and returns to their life a stronger person than they were before. This is a journey that every customer will be able to identify with, one that should encompass their hopes and fears and show them that, with your help, they are strong enough to reach their goals.

4) How flexible is the Hero’s Journey?

There are almost infinite ways to tell a story that encompass the Hero’s Journey. Probably one of the best pieces of content marketing in recent years is the story of Deng Adut, whose journey from child soldier to lawyer went viral in 2015. The story is of Deng’s strength and struggle, but the role that the University of Western Sydney played in his story makes the story an incredibly engaging piece of content marketing for the university.

John Rowbottom Design and Marketing can help you find the stories that matter to your company. To find out what we can do for you, visit us at jrdm.com.au today.

Getting Hyped – four ways to use anticipation in your marketing

At some time or another, everyone has had an event they’re counting down the days they have left to wait for. Whether that’s a new Apple product, a movie premiere, a holiday or an event, we all know that as the days go closer our minds wander back to what we’re anticipating time and time again. Who wouldn’t want to get their customers to be that excited about their business? In today’s article, I look at four ways to use anticipation to boost customer engagement with your campaigns and your business.

1) Tease what’s coming

The first step in building anticipation for an event is letting people know what’s coming. You’ve seen media companies do it for movies and videogames; a simple, short teaser trailer letting you know just enough about a coming product to whet your appetite. The same tactics can be used in your own campaigns. Letting your customers know a little about the event or product you want to promote lets them know what is coming down the line, the first step in building excitement and intent for what you have. Don’t let all the information out at once – put out just enough through your social media channels to pique the interest of your audience and make them curious to know what comes next.

2) Let your audience spread the word

Anticipation for a product spreads the more people are talking about it. If you are running a large campaign this is the point that you would reach out to influencers whose audience matches the market you’re trying to reach, to share key information about the product with them for them to discuss and promote to their followers. If you’re running a smaller campaign, a similar effect can be had by reaching out to the customers you know are most active within your community. Sharing information or product samples with these local-scale influencers will let the people that your customers know and trust help to spread the word about is coming up for your business, making sure that your audience will stay engaged and interested.

3) Build excitement

The closer you come to the big event, the more your audience should know about what to expect. Just as you released a teaser at the start of the process, you should release information about what is coming up on a regular basis, letting the product come into greater and greater focus throughout. This slow build of information will let your audience piece together what to expect themselves, keeping them involved and building their hype as they get closer and closer to the final date.

4) Drop the mic

When the day comes for the event you have been building to, make sure that all of your customers know it. Send out information on every channel you use, on every platform. Offer incentives to make sure that your audience will engage with what you are promoting right at the start; offer discounts, add-ons or promotional items for the first customers to engage. Make the event you have been promoting an event, and your customers will channel the excitement they have been building for your product into attention, business, and strong word of mouth.

John Rowbottom Design and Marketing is a Sutherland Shire based marketing agency helping companies across Australia to get the most out of their campaigns. If you would like to find out more about what we can do for you, visit us at jrdm.com.au and speak to us 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.

Building your brand: 5 branding steps for small business

Having a brand that clearly represents your business is a big part of how you communicate with your customers. Your brand sits at the centre of your marketing; it’s a clear identity that should run through everything you use to reach your audience, letting them know who you are and what your business stands for. Developing a successful brand identity is something that takes time and effort, but there are a set of steps that can make the process simpler and help to ensure you get the right results.

1. Know your audience

This is the most important aspect of marketing, and that’s still the case when it comes to building your brand. You need to know who your potential customers are and what they are looking for from your business in order to create a brand that speaks to them and addresses those issues. I spoke about this in my last blog post, and the points I raised there are still relevant here – if you haven’t seen it already it’s worth reading through that post before you continue here, but the short version is “know who your customers are”. Understand their background, their income, their needs and how they spend their time and you’ll be better able to talk to them in a way they will appreciate.

2. Know yourself

Again, I mentioned this in my previous post and discussed the importance of a Unique Selling Proposition that sets you apart from your competitor. Building a brand means taking the ideas that set you apart and building them into how you communicate. Is your company environmentally focussed? Is your USP the speed of your service? Is it the knowledge base that your staff have and their ability to solve the customer’s problems? Whatever gives your company its edge and speaks to your customers needs to be the core of your brand identity.

Once you have a good understanding of your customers and of what makes your company unique, you can use as the basis for creating your brand identity.

3. Create your visual brand

This is what most people think of when they think of branding – the visual elements that can identify your company at a glance. Exactly what will be involved will vary depending on your industry and the types of customers you’re trying to reach, but some things will play into almost every brand:

A logo. This is the image that encapsulates your brand. A logo is the thing your customers will most immediately associate with your company’s image, and should capture the essence of your brand’s identity… whether that be energetic and dynamic, traditional and trustworthy, or hand-crafted and hipster-friendly. Logo development should be the start of your visual brand and the results should shape the feel of the rest of your visual communications.

A website. What goes into developing a successful website is worth a post on its own. By now, I don’t think I have to convince anyone that having a website is an essential for a small business, but it is important to make sure that your brand informs the look and feel of your website. Everything from the colours used to the layout to the choice of fonts should be in keeping with the rest of your visual brand, and should help strengthen the identity you want for your company.

A style guide. Often, I’ve seen companies skip this step when developing their visual brand, which is a decision that often comes back to haunt them later. A style guide is a summary of the decisions that have gone into building the visual elements of your brand, and a set of rules and guidelines on how to use those elements. This information becomes important when you come to add new forms of communication – a new brochure, new signage, an app – to make sure that anything new continues to fit the existing brand style, and that anyone who works on those projects knows how to implement your design. Style guides can be anything from a few pages long to thick volumes of information, but whatever the size, they’re essential to making sure that your visual identity remains consistent.

4. Create your voice

An organisation’s voice is the other half of its brand. Whenever you are writing for your audience, whether that be dialogue for an ad, the copy on your website, a blog post or a brochure, the way that you speak to your audience needs to maintain the same voice. As with your visual identity, this should reflect what makes your business unique, and should resonate with your audience. The brand voice of an exclusive hotel will be refined, formal and polite. The voice of a surfboard shop will be laid back, friendly and casual. The right voice will make your values clear to your audience and lets them know that you understand them.

Setting down the guidelines for your brand’s voice is, once again, an important step. In the same way that the Style guide helps any designers who work on your material, the voice guide makes sure that your written communication maintains the same tone of voice regardless of who creates it.

5. Talk to your audience

Blogging and content marketing are great ways to build your brand image. They represent a cheap – often free – way to put information that represents your business and its identity in front of an audience that will listen.

The key to successful content marketing is creating content that resonates with your audience. Think about what brings customers to your business, the kind of questions that they have and the problems that your products or services solve, and create blog posts that address those issues and provide helpful solutions. By providing relevant information you build the image of your business as one that can help your customers, increasing their trust and making them more likely to choose you than your competitors.

If you’ve decided that it’s time for your business to build its brand, John Rowbottom Design and Marketing can help with every step of the branding process, from brand development to creating content marketing. If you’d like to start a discussion, make an enquiry at jrdm.com.au today.

Photo by Joao Tzanno on Unsplash