When we provide media training to our clients at my PR agency, we have a section that we cover called WII-FM. Executives find this acronym amusing until they realize it's not the name of a radio station but a call that every company should heed across sales, HR, and especially marketing. You have to give to get. Everyone---customers, prospects, partners, and even reporters---want to know "What's in it for me?"
Though there's no "I" in TEAM, there is a "me" in Marketing. Brands have always had to make their product or service value proposition very clear to customers and prospects, but today consumers are even more demanding than ever.
With customers' instant communication expectations (thanks to social marketing), brands risk alienating their biggest fans if they don't offer some clear value in their marketing content. That value can be in the form of entertaining or informative content, rewards, recognition, opportunities to participate and contribute ideas, etc. Your constituents---customers, prospects, media, investors, fans---all expect some sort of ROI for their time and attention. Advertising special deals or discounts isn't the only compelling (sometimes not even the most compelling) thing a marketer can do these days to keep customers loyal. Combining such offers with recognition is much more powerful. In fact, sometimes just providing recognition is enough to make your marketing go viral---that is, to be shared widely among your fans and customers.
For example, many consumer brands are offering the opportunity for fans to be recognized. The brands take advantage of an already captive audience by featuring user-generated content.
Fashion brands are the most obvious use case here---offering their fans the opportunity to be seen on their Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or other social network, for example. Inviting fans to post photos of themselves in the brand's apparel is not only an easy and inexpensive way to build content but also encourages fans to promote the content. People are more likely to share something of which they are a part---again, embracing that "me" mentality. And it creates an emotional connection that "This brand likes me and thinks I'm worthy."
Examples of Customer Recognition
It's relatively easy for consumer brands to offer special rewards and recognition. For example, I love my yearly White House Black Market birthday coupons. I'm a digital gal, but receiving an actual birthday card with a special deal in the US postal mail stands out as extra effort in my book. I also love when vendors remind me of something I bought or when I purchased a certain item the previous year, just in case the purchase was for a special occasion that I want to repeat. But brands like TJMaxx, Ann Taylor, and other consumer retailers are now going a step further. They are combining such reward and recognition with content in the forms of contests, online and offline combination events, and more. I've seen similar campaigns from food and beverage brands, such as Doritos and their "participatory marketing" effort at the Super Bowl a few years ago.
While content is often the single biggest differentiator between a "WOW!" marketing campaign and a "ho hum---expected" one, brands need to take content a step further these days and combine it with something else for your audience. I might like a video, for example, but if it has a special offer at the end for me to be a part of the next video or to receive a special discount for watching the video, I'm more likely to pass it on and share the opportunity and ROI with my friends and community. Or perhaps if that birthday card had a QR code on it that took me to a super-secret section of White House Black Market's website, I would be more likely to make an impulse purchase, above and beyond using the special coupons.
Eloqua recently reported that even B2B organizations are allocating 33% of marketing budgets on content, according to the recently released report “B2B Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budget and Trends---North America,” from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs. I know that the teams at my PR firm are working with B2B clients to consistently create visual content to accompany marketing campaigns---even the most simple of updates or news events are combined with visual content---an infographic, video, photo---that not only engages, but rewards the audience consuming it.
So what, besides entertainment factor, can you provide in your content marketing campaigns? How can you take a fresh look at your marketing content and make sure you include the "me" factor for your constituents?
Here are a few tips.
- Don't think about you, think about "me." Brands often approach marketing with the old school mentality of push instead of "hug." How will your content pull fans in, woo, engage them, and make them feel rewarded for consuming the content? How do you get them to want to "hug you back" with their fanship and business?
- Remember that everyone likes recognition. The "me" factor doesn't only mean giving me something but also showing me that, as a brand, you recognize and appreciate me as a customer. This is easy to provide as a B2B or a B2C in the form of customer profiles; the recognition could be as simple as a photo with the customer's Twitter handle on a Pinterest board or involve a more in-depth Q&A feature on a blog or Facebook page.
- Say that again? It's not enough to post just once. You've read it before: Create once, post many times. Don't just post a piece of marketing content once on Twitter, for example, no matter how many followers you have. Create content with a "campaign" mentality; post across multiple platforms and in connected ways. And by connected I don't just mean the same post repeated everywhere! Repeat yourself but change up the way you present the content to keep it interesting, and to see what resonates best.
- Understand me. Understanding your audience is difficult if you're not paying attention to what they like and what provides that "aha!" moment. That comes down to engagement and measurement. Which types of content are creating the most interaction with your brand? Where are you receiving the most engagement? How are people engaging with your content? Measure, repeatedly, and realign future efforts based on results.
- Talk with me. I wrote last year that brands need to talk with audiences---not just at them. It seems so obvious that creating content that gets audiences to engage is a No. 1 priority. But many brands bring ego into the equation and do not talk with their fans, followers, customers, or prospects. They continue to create marketing content that's all about them, their products or services; they push content out that's one-sided. That may work in the short term, but as social and content marketing continue to grow, it won't last as a long-term strategy. Consumers especially are going to interact with brands that include them, talk with them, and make them feel special. The "what's in it for me" mentality is only going to become more important as the marketing and social content landscape becomes more crowded and noisy.
In the end, everyone has an ego, so be sure that your marketing content---especially social campaigns---appeals to and showcases your reason for success: your customer.