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.

5 ways to get more from your content with repurposing

In content marketing, creating a great piece of content is just the beginning. If you’ve put together an absolutely fantastic blog post, video or email, then you should be getting as much benefit from it as possible. Repurposing your content means that you can take the best elements of what you have created in one format, and use it to easily create new content for other formats, platforms and audiences. In today’s post, I look at five ways to repurpose your content to increase your audience and gain more traffic.

1) Extract key data

If you have created a piece of content that leans heavily on statistics and data, consider ways that you can take the key points from that data and re-use them elsewhere. Solid data makes a great basis for infographics, or can be extracted to use as a tweet or facebook post that focusses on one or two important takeaways.

2) Replay video content

If you’ve hosted a webinar or similar live content, then you have a chunk of long-form video content that can be used elsewhere. You can use that as the basis for a number of shorter pieces for video on demand, from a long-form cut of the event that can be used on platforms like YouTube, to quick highlights that you can post on TikTok, Facebook or Linkedin.

3) Turn blogs into podcasts

This is one of the easiest ways to convert content into other formats. If you have a high-performing blog article, then you have an almost complete script for a podcast. All you need to do is record it (or find someone with a voice for radio on a platform such as Fiverr), maybe making some adjustments to make the tone less formal, and you’ll have an excellent piece of audio content.

4) Find new audiences

Sometimes, you don’t even have to change the content in order to repurpose it. Turning a presentation into a slideshare deck, taking video content you’ve run on YouTube and reusing it on Facebook or Linkedin, or re-posting infographics on Twitter all make use of content you already have without any changes being necessary. Always consider what platforms you haven’t made use of, and see if you have content that would fit their format.

5) Turn long form pieces into guides

Whether you’ve put together a script for a video or podcast, a series of blog articles or a newsletter article, long form content can form a great base for an eBook. eBooks are appealing because they condense a lot of information into a format that can be read at the audience’s leisure, and asking your audience to register with you in order to download the book means you have a way of collecting the contact information of people you know will be interested in your content.

John Rowbottom Design and Marketing help businesses across Australia make the most of their content. If you would like to know what we can do for you, visit us online at jrdm.com.au.

Experience is everything – five tips to improve your user experience

If you’ve spent the time to put together an effective and engaging campaign that works to bring customers to your site, the last thing you want to have happen is for those customers to lose interest or leave your site before taking action. A good user experience (UX) on your website and landing pages is vital in making sure that your campaigns succeed in the goals that you have set for them. In today’s article, I look at five ways you can improve your customer’s user experience and get better results from your campaigns.

1) Consider customer knowledge

Not every customer comes to your site with the same information. Some customers will already know everything they need to know about your product and will want to move through the sale process as quickly as possible, without interruption. Others will be looking for information and guidance before they make their decision. Most will fall on a spectrum somewhere in between. In setting up your campaigns and building your landing pages, bear in mind the different types of customer you have and the differing amounts of information they will need, and try to lead the right person to page that gives them what they need to make their transaction with you as easy as possible.

2) Make it flow

The core of good user experience design is making sure that the customer is lead though the page, following the layout and information without interruptions and without them having to search for what they need. Make sure that key information is at the top of the page, above the fold, and that your layout encourages the user to move their attention from one element of your page to the next. Place your calls to action regularly throughout the user’s journey, to ensure that no matter how far through your content the user progresses, they are encouraged to take action.

3) Know what you want

Every marketing campaign should be pursuing a specific goal, and your user experience should be driving your users to complete that goal. Make sure that you know exactly what it is that you are trying to achieve, whether that be an email sign up, to contact you for more information, or to purchase an item. Knowing what you specifically want to achieve means that you know what to emphasise within the page, what your call to action should be, and what to test for.

4) Make sure you look good everywhere

The ways that your users have to access your content are now more varied than they have ever been, with users accessing media from smartphones, laptops, smart TVs and more. Responsive web design is absolutely essential in making sure that your content looks its best on any platform. Make sure that you incorporate responsive design into the creation of your pages, and make sure that your content still looks good and flows correctly no matter what platform your users might be using.

5) Test everything

As with everything else in a marketing campaign, never simply assume that your user experience is perfect. There are a wide variety of tools available to help you test and optimise your material. A/B testing, click maps and scroll maps are all vital to helping you understand how your users are navigating your pages, what is getting their attention, and where they are disengaging. Test everything, make improvements, then test again.

John Rowbottom Design and Marketing is a Sutherland Shire based company offering marketing and design services to businesses throughout Sydney and Australia. If you would like to find out more about how we can help you achieve your goals, visit us today at jrdm.com.au.

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.

Knowing when you’re losing – five ways to identify poorly performing campaigns

In marketing, knowing how well you are performing is key to success. Understanding which of your campaigns are the most successful at drawing in leads and converting them to customers is an essential part of ensuring your campaigns are optimised. But to really ensure that your performance is as high as possible, it’s also important to identify the campaigns and promotions that simply do not work, to find out why, and to kill off anything that is costing you money for no real benefit. In today’s article, I look at five ways to identify campaigns that simply aren’t working.

1) High bounce rates

If a customer hits your landing page and goes no further, that usually means one of two things; either the customer isn’t interested in what they found there, or what they found there has given them all the information they need. Neither of those options moves a customer further down the acquisition process.

If your landing pages are experiencing a high bounce rate, take a look at the structure of your landing page. Make sure that it is aligned with your campaign, easy to navigate, and offers a clear call to action that appeals to the customer you’re trying to attract.

2) Low page traffic

If your landing pages aren’t seeing a lot of traffic, then your campaigns aren’t drawing in customers. If you are running an inbound campaign, consider the ad content that you are running. Is it clear and easy to understand? Does it offer a proposition that interests your customers? Is it running in the right place to reach the right customers? Take a look at the upstream metrics for your ads, through the platform you are running them on. If your ad is being served to a lot of people but generating few clicks, then it’s definitely time to reconsider the content of your advertising material.

3) Few return visitors

New visitors are good, but unless they keep returning to your website, they are unlikely to become long-term customers. If your campaigns are bringing in a lot of customers but not getting many of them to stay, consider the structure of your site, the quality of the content there, and the ease-of-use of your customer experience. In an ideal world, you want content that is compelling enough to keep customers coming back for more, and a customer experience frictionlessly guides the user through the sales process.

4) High acquisitions costs

As always, the number one metric to judge any campaign by is revenue. If you are spending more to bring customers to your site than you are earning from those new customers, then ultimately the campaign isn’t doing its job. Low conversions can be a sign that your advertising isn’t drawing in the right leads, that your customer experience is poor, or that your offer isn’t suitable for your audience.

5) Know when to fold

Ultimately, if a campaign is repeatedly failing to meet your goals, then the decision will need to be taken as to whether it can be fixed and brought up to the level that you need, or if it should be killed off entirely. The points above will give you a good indication of how far under expectations a campaign is running and what the causes might be, and whether it can be saved will be different for each campaign, but don’t be afraid to be brutal. A poorly running campaign does your business no favours, only costing you money and the good will of your customers.

Located in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire, John Rowbottom Design and Marketing helps businesses across Australia to reach their goals. If you want to find out what we can do for your campaigns, visit us at jrdm.com.au and book an appointment today.

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.

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.

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.