How To Execute An Agile Distribution Strategy

Businesses focus on content creation, but relatively little on distribution strategy.  This doesn’t suggest there aren’t applications being used to help push content to various social media platforms.  In fact, they are in wide use, but are limited to a company’s social circle.  A distribution strategy needs to go beyond a company’s unique social circle. The object should be to expand your network, not maintain it.  By expanding it, your product or service benefits from a larger sample size from which you can draw analytics to make agile improvements. 

Here are some of the key distribution strategies you might benefit from. 

1.      Pay for Promotion. This can be done through paid social media boosts which work to increase brand exposure. Some companies feel they can get away with straightforward organic growth.  Consider this, there are approximately 18 million business pages on Facebook today.  Organic growth is not well suited for such a crowded environment.  In order to expand your reach to audiences that do not currently ‘like’ your page, you can take advantage of sponsored page boosts that help target an intended audience.  Both Facebook and Twitter have promotion based options that do not cost a ton of money and at the same time, do not deviate all that much from an organic based marketing campaign.

2.      Engage. Respond to every single comment, and re tweet.    A non-response to a comment, especially early on, can hurt reputation, especially if the comment is good feedback.  At the end of the day, it’s all about customer relationship. 

4.      Influencer Market. Viewers need to look at your content in mass in order for you to improve it. This can be done by leveraging an influencer’s audience.  This is admittingly not an easy task if you’re not willing to spend the money, but it can be done through reputable influencer agencies.  The key to this tactic is to be critical of the influencers you want to push your content.  Look for correlations between your content and what an influencer actually does for a living.  You want commonality so you’re targeting the right audience.

5.      Direct Traffic To Your Site. The goal is to promote your brand, so why not direct traffic to a website you own, versus one you rent. Push your audience to your own site where you have complete creative and marketing control, and then re-direct them to your social media channels from there. 

6.      Focus On The Big 5. YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Have the same content ready to be pushed to all social media platforms and have a game plan on the frequency of your posts for each.  A common recommendation for a single post during the course of a week might look something like this: 

Facebook: 3-10 times per week

Twitter: at least 5 times a day

LinkedIn: 2-5 times per week

7.      Pay Attention And Be Agile. Continually tweak your distribution strategy.  Distribution is a full time job that needs constant interaction to complete the feedback loop that will result in needed large or subtle changes to your content.  Being agile does not mean simply reacting.  It also means executing change to your content based on feedback to maximize relevancy, audience share and eventually, revenue.  

A Story of Why Experiences Matter

What happens if I lose my job?  What is my fall back?  Not a hugely relevant thought one has today, but this was 2008, during the height of a major recession.  There was a ton of angst about job security going on back then.  Many of our friends were being laid off here in the Mid-Atlantic across many industries.  At the time, Ty was an accountant of all things.  Not a job he had any special interest in, but certainly one that paid the bills and supported a fledgling family.  Ty decided to get into real estate with the thought that the housing market couldn’t go anywhere but up at that point.  After some classes and licenses were acquired, off he went trying to establish himself.  It didn’t take long to realize quality photos of his homes tended to sell better.  Ty decided to invest in some really good camera gear and started self learning the basics of photography.

A funny thing happened when Ty bought that Nikon 3100.  

His desire to create a fallback career in the event of an emergency, shifted towards a passion for photography.  So much so that he blindly reached out to an established New York City street photographer for further guidance and inspiration.  It led to a one off trip to the New York City to work with and learn from one of the experts in the field.  Suddenly, real estate became an afterthought.  With a quickly growing portfolio, offers for corporate events unexpectedly came flooding in.  The demand was tremendous and forced his hand further into his craft. 

Not long into these engagements did further requests for video come his way.  Leveraging off his experience with photography, he once again reached out to experts in the field.  This lead to a partnership with a film production company based in Arizona, once again, learning from the best and brightest in the business.  Sure enough, requests for video in all nuanced formats and styles came flooding in. So much so that he gathered a trusted team of collaborators to help distribute the load.  

With demand for his talent, came demand for his insight on how to best capture corporate clients needs such as brand awareness, relevancy, and value proposition and positioning.  Once again, Ty reached out to marketing professionals he could collaborate with to run ideas by to give himself credibility and an expanded understanding.  This led to professional collaborations with established content distribution firms which are in practical use today.  

Through these experiences, he began to realize the importance of practicing what he was preaching.  Through consults from trusted resources within his circle, he made the bold decision to rebrand into a content production and distribution strategy firm with an emphasis on collaborative engagements.  Not only was he creating, he was now advising.  It was clear he needed to put emphasis on promotional distribution of his own work and outsourcing of new forms of content such as this blog to reach wider audiences.  He felt the need to establish trust and attention.  As his current clients and new prospects began realizing his expanded services, in turn, his business grew and is still doing so today. 

A funny thing happened when Ty purchased that Nikon 3100.  

He started paying more attention to his experiences as opposed to his knowledge on how to balance financial statements. He leveraged those experiences and then layered them, one on top of another.  A business degree didn’t do this, he did.  

This is how you build a business.  This is why experience matters.

How Personal Effectiveness Leads to Success

Our experience has taught us there is no direct route one takes to become successful, but there are concepts that successful people practice.  Personal effectiveness is one of the most important

Personal effectiveness is an all-encompassing description for the soft skills one uses on a daily basis. It covers the way in which you communicate both written and verbal.  It covers spatial and object communication.  It also covers qualitative decision making. 

Personal effectiveness is driven by what you are and what you do, NOT what you say.   

The better you are at examining the way you think about yourself and the world around you, the better you can navigate your industry and by extension, the impact on your career.  And, if you’re an entrepreneur, your business. You can assess this concept in two ways; internally and externally. 

Internally, get your own act together first.  You cannot build trust unless you have a handle on some basic principles that resonate with those around you. Consider which principles you as an individual hold close to your vest and live your life upon. Some examples are the practice of integrity, humility, temperance, courage, justice, simplicity, modesty, justice or the golden rule.  Once you have defined your own set of principles, reflect on them often, especially during tough decisions. 

Externally, consider how you demonstrate your beliefs. The only way to create trust is to build a podium upon which to stand. The podium is built using the principals you have adhered to through your internal self-evaluation. It becomes the basis for your public image and a shield of sorts from those that disagree with you and your own decisions. Furthermore, it limits your own self-doubts about your decisions. If someone disagrees with you, it no longer offends you because you are confident in the principles you have adopted. 

Many consider the internal and external assessments to be an exercise of self-awareness.  This concept has been a popular theme, especially in the entrepreneur space.  Understanding what you are good at while acknowledging shortcomings is important. Attempting to speak on subjects you have no experience in serves to highlight your weaknesses.  The better route is to stay in the lane that evokes confidence based on already adopted values, beliefs and experiences.  Misunderstanding this very basic concept is a mistake we see in many marketing strategy engagements. 

Entrepreneurs that understand the importance of self-awareness often don’t understand how to improve upon it.  The path is quite simple; seek feedback through engagement. One of the positive aspects of being your own boss is not having to justify your decisions. It’s also a common pitfall towards failure. Surround yourself with people smarter than you, listen to their feedback and give them space to validate or provide constructive feedback. 

The chances we can have a positive impact on clients’ marketing challenges increase when we see leaders that have the ability to take responsibility for their shortcomings and are open to alternative strategies.  We believe solid personal effectiveness leads to personal and professional success. 

Mentorship

Homer’s 8th century BC epic poem The Odyssey introduced a man named Mentor.

So he [Telemachus] spoke and sat down; next Mentor rose to speak, a comrade-in-arms of noble Odysseus. To him the king had committed his entire household, when he sailed off to Troy; he had ordered everyone to obey the old man, trusting that he would keep all things steadfast and undisturbed.

This is where the term mentorship came from. As the story goes, while Odysseus went off to war, he left Mentor to look after his commitments and more importantly, the upbringing of his son, Telemachus.  Over the years, the idea of a mentor has not deviated much from its namesake. A mentor in today’s world is still someone that dispels advice from a real world point of view, someone that provides a wealth of knowledge and more importantly, experience. 

Some believe mentorship is some altruistic donation from one individual to another. That is not the case. In fact, it’s just the opposite. It’s about the sharing of information to mutually benefit both individuals. Both the mentor and protégé should benefit. And let’s not assume a mentor is only relevant for those just starting out. Every successful business person, athlete, blue collar worker, etc., can benefit from a mentor at any point in their career. Since we are always learning and evolving, there is never a bad time to look for a mentor. 

How do you find a mentor? A good start is to examine your existing connections within your chosen industry. Amateur baseball players will seek out scouts to help identify areas of weakness in their swing or pitching motions. Newly starting entrepreneurs may seek the guidance of past business associates that made the leap to self-employment before them. Attorneys, novice or experienced, may look to strike up a conversation with a respected judge in the hopes that it creates a relationship that can be tapped from time to time for litigation advice. The possibilities are endless. The important first step, is to take simply reach out for help. A common perception is that asking for help is a sign of weakness, that it somehow creates a burden or that people will lose respect for you. The irony in that way of thinking is that not doing so may come across as arrogance. In any industry, arrogance is a dangerous perception. 

Each of us intuitively evaluate each other, look for similarities upon which to share stories or create connections. This is especially true in the business world and highlights the importance of having a solid sense of self awareness. Mentorships are the seeds of creating not only self-awareness, but also personal effectiveness and emotional intelligence. The marketing space, and more specifically, the content creation industry is heavily reliant on these soft skills and provides the basis from which the best storytelling content comes from. In our experience, the best content comes from those that have something to say from a practical perspective born out of past business relationships and shared experiences. A large number of these stories tend to have a common theme; Mentorships.  

Influencer Marketing

Creating content is not enough. There needs to be distribution. There are so many ways this is done, albeit some more effective than others.  TV, radio, podcast, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, you name it. The end goal is the same, to reach the largest audience possible in an attempt to spread your message, tell your story or promote your existence. Beyond the practical act of actually uploading your content, there are also tactical strategies that can be deployed to further help your distribution. Email campaigns, use of distribution software such as Epoxy, even using your network to spread your content via word of mouth. Arguably, one of the more effective strategies is the use of Influencer Marketing.  

Influencer marketing means leveraging existing influential users that have large numbers of followers to promote your content. Through their deployment of your content, you benefit 5, 10, 20, even 100 fold by reaching audiences your own brand has not yet found. Probably the most basic example of this is the re-tweet. Creating your own content, sharing it through your own Twitter handle and then asking for a re-tweet from an influencer with a large following such as a celebrity or someone with control of or owns a successful personal brand. This action allows your content to reach a larger audience and gives it instant credibility because it has become tacitly endorsed by that influencer.  

Another example is a mention or link through the influencer’s own content. Many times, established content creators will use their own platform to share up and coming content creators. This tends to be mutually beneficial. The influencer will increase engagement of his/her audience and perceive themselves as empathetic to the challenges of building an audience while the content creator benefits from the aforementioned increased audience share. The more influential the person, the better the opportunity for your content to become successful.  Keep in mind, your content needs to be solid to have results and staying power.  None of this works without a quality product.   

An obvious question is, how can I get an influencers attention? There are many ways, but the most practical is research. Take the time to dig into what an influencer likely has interest in and match your content to that individual’s values and beliefs. Attempt to create an emotional or relate-able attachment to them. Consider looking at different angles in attempts to gain the attention of an influencer. Look internally first to determine what value you can provide to an influencer so they may in turn be more willing to promote your interests. 

Another important step is to simply build a library of content. Expecting an influencer to give you a mention after your 5th video is not a good strategy. Create a library that gives your own brand trust and attention. Finally, be realistic in your efforts. Going after an influencer like Kim Kardashian or Kobe Bryant is not likely going to work. Look for individuals you can reach and would likely consume your content. Start with lesser known influencers to build your credibility over time. Success in marketing should not be measured by a series of quick hit successes, rather it should be viewed as a long term strategy of producing quality content that tells a story which in turn, reverberates your values and beliefs.  Influential Marketing should be a part of that strategy.  

The Importance of Information Arbitrage

In the race for growing revenue, change is inevitable. Businesses that accept this understanding and more importantly, adapt to change, will be more successful. Many businesses and marketing professionals agree with this, but interestingly, many fail to act on it. Why? Because they fail to value input from sources they are unfamiliar with. Look at the rise of social media as an example. Despite the massive attention social apps such as Instagram and Facebook have, companies still view them with trepidation when it comes to marketing budget and gravitate to traditional TV or banner ad strategies. Rather than viewing social media as leverage point, it’s viewed as a disruption to an existing marketing plan that has worked in the past. The reality is, the internet didn’t change anything. It just accelerated something that has always been going on, Information Arbitrage. 

Information arbitrage is the process of creating market opportunities by identifying trends and acting on them. Advancements in marketing, including technology advancements usually serve to advance the goal of growing revenue, not introducing competition. Consider the Netflix story. This company started as a mail order service delivering DVD movies. Rather than ignoring a growing broadband infrastructure, they shifted to a streaming rental service. Later, they took it a step further by developing their own movie and show content. Compare this with the Blockbuster story. The trend away from brick and mortar movie rental store fronts was never seriously considered until it was too late. 

Today, information arbitrage is widely in use. Big data analytics is big business because it identifies trends and helps marketing professionals hone in on pockets of likely success. The goal is to identify trends or predict where people’s attention is going to be before the rest of the industry realizes it. The content being developed must also hit on these trends and be pushed out to consumers on a consistent basis to maintain attention and credibility. While video may be the most effective medium for content, it’s worth realizing it was not always this way. YouTube is only 11 years old! How would you react if I told you virtual reality is the next big social media distribution channel based on trending data? Would you adapt to it and start thinking about how your business can create virtual reality content to reach new audiences, or would you fail to act until it’s too late?  

The Making of an Icon

Malala Yousafzai, Bill Gates, Michael Jordan, Picaso, Oprah Winfrey, Humphry Bogart, Muhammed Ali.  What do these people have in common? They are all icons. They are all individuals who represent an idea or philosophy, an attribute or position, a symbol or aesthetic.  More than just a celebrity, more than just one who has talent, but rather, a persuasion. A persuasion that makes people want to take action based on emotional need to be associated with them and what they stand for. For they are the most pure form of a value proposition the marketing world has at its disposal. It’s no wonder icons and their associated images are so prevalent in marketing content today. 

Icons and their brands embody a myth.  The Harvard Business Review once wrote, “Iconic brands embody not just any myth but myths that attempt to resolve tensions people feel between their own lives and society’s prevailing ideology”. Take for example successful entrepreneurs. There are many entrepreneurs in society today, but most of them have not yet become successful by their own definition. Most entrepreneurs are in constant search for guidance and successful role players that act to perpetuate their ideas of success. Forbes says 90% of entrepreneur efforts fail. There are many reasons for this, but one of them is a lack of focus on what the customer actually wants, needs or aspires to be. The most successful are those that have based their efforts on the populists’ ideas and values, not on what other successful people are doing. Understanding your audience’s ideas and values means having a firm grasp of ever changing cultural knowledge and acting on it by creating content that speaks to it. 

An icon disrupts the status quo by creating motivation to move people out of their comfort zone and into a position of potential success. This is done through emotional attachment icons have with their audience. This is how they build their brand. Icons over their lifetime have built a body of work that contains related values, depth of significance and shows a level of struggle they have gone through to get to where they are now. Malala Yousafzai suffered immeasurable pain in a failed assassination attempt, but was able to overcome both physically and mentally to become a leading human rights and female education advocate and receive a Nobel Prize. Oprah Winfrey overcame adversity in a white male dominated industry to become a media mogul, actress, producer and philanthropist. The same level of effort and struggle should go into any individual looking to build a brand. It should start with content that works to build trust and attention. That content should have a depth of significance and strongly relate to the needs and values of a large swath of individuals. This is how an Icon is made. 

How Olympic Primetime Helps Define Content Marketing

This week, the entire world is watching the Olympics.  Here in the US, most of us are watching during prime time, along with the commercial breaks.  Similar to other popular live sports, we normally watch these sponsor ads for fear of missing Michael Phelps or Simone Biles swim and tumble their way to Olympic gold.  The formula of leveraging your attention to consume advertising has been around for a very long time.  Watching the Olympics reminds us this tactic is still in full effect. While live sports may arguably be the exception, most of these mass consumer businesses paying for these ads are actually wasting your most precious commodity, your time. 

The difference between then and now is, you have a choice.  You no longer have to miss seconds of your favorite shows.  The internet has given you the ability to cut the cable cord and watch what you want, when you want, advertisement free.  You know the apps; HBO2Go, Hulu, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Netflix, to name a few.  The question is, what are advertisers doing about this apparent drop in viewership?  We would argue, surprisingly little.  Why?  Because those same consumer based businesses which pay for those ads, still think they are working.  Eventually they will catch up to market reality.

What do these apps have in common?  They are all mobile accessible.  They go where you go.  When was the last time you traveled with your 60 inch LCD TV?  Smartphones are everywhere and they are not going away anytime soon.  If you were trying to advertise for your client, would you push TV spots or would you try to build content that can co-exist on these newer services or even social media?  That is content marketing and we believe it will continue to grow in popularity.  The really interesting thing about it is, it’s not just the creation of video for websites, Youtube or Facebook.  It's integrated content including blogs, 30-60 second Instagram clips, and 140 character limited tweets.  All of which are meant to provoke a click to engage you into the purchase of a product or service. 

Here is the catch. From a content creation point of view, it’s not as easy as it was when your entire advertisement ecosystem was through TV or radio spots.  There has been a massive paradigm shift.  Sophisticated adopters of multiple social medium require sophisticated and smarter content.  That is where value proposition, smart content and storytelling comes in to play.  The content your prospects see must be good and it must engage your viewers.  That is much more difficult to do these days. 

Consider an analogy to better explain this.  Back in the 80s, marketers could target consumers based on known demographics because of the shows they watched.  Advertisements could be an inch thick in terms of product content, and a mile deep in terms of prospects watching it.  With social media and app adoption, that formula has completely flipped.  Now content has to be a mile wide in terms of product engagement in order to reach an inch deep worth of prospective purchasers.   How do you accomplish that?  You do it through really good engaging content.  You tell stories about the companies behind the products.  You give over the top customer service and hope your customers tweet about it.  You write blogs or white papers that give real insight into industry trends.  In other words, add value to your prospective customers before you even make a sale.  Establish trust and attention to drive sales; that is content marketing.     

 

Engage Through Training Videos, Just Like an Olympian

The Summer Olympics are upon us!  There is no other sporting event that can quite capture the competition, pageantry, patriotism, and sense of unification like the Olympics can.  At the heart of each Olympics are the athletes themselves and their years of dedication to their sport.  Today’s athletes train hard and study their craft intensely.  One of the most proven ways they do this is through video content analysis.  

Unlike in the sports arena, use of video analysis in training is not a highly adopted practice in the business world.  How can this integral part of training just about every successful highly tuned athlete use, not share the same success in corporate training rooms?  The answers vary.  Some companies simply stick to what works; PowerPoint presentations, training manuals, even internal tests to encourage self-study.  Some companies cite cost concerns.  The reality is, none of these arguments make sense. 

One of the single largest reason to use video content in the workplace is it allows viewers to more efficiently engage through connections they create themselves.  There is little to interpret when reading a training manual, it’s all there in black and white.  Video content creates engagement and helps define purpose, rather than blind direction.  Consider for a moment a complex topic such as compliance training.  Video content is better because visual communication is just more efficient then text.  90% of all information absorbed is visual.  It also take much less time for us to process images as compared to text.  Company’s often wonder how best to reach millennials.  Video is ideal for this because that is how they have been learning for most of their lives, both professionally and personally.  Their primary source of information for most of their lives has been the smartphone, a distribution device finely tuned for optimized video content. 

Beyond the scientific reasons, it’s also just much more engaging.  Compare a professionally developed training video to a PowerPoint presentation.  Professionally produced content isn’t just about explaining a process or procedure, it should be about relatability through real life applicable anecdotes to push the content’s narrative.  Storytelling allows for person by person interpretation and as a result, better active engagement.   Allow video’s innate personal connection with the audience to shine through and use it to your firm’s advantage. 

Training can take all sorts of forms in the corporate world.  Consider using video content for technical overviews, product and service demonstrations, onboarding new employees, ongoing education, role playing, sales support, even recruiting.  In the sports world, the primary purpose is coaching.  The video example below shows Olympic swimming coach Bob Bowman analyzing breathing techniques for Olympians’ Michael Phelps and Katie Hoff. Imagine Coach Bowman trying to teach these techniques through a manual or illustration.  If video content is the gold standard for our Olympians, it should also be your gold standard in the corporate world.  

Providing Value In Financial Services

In 1892, the Irish poet and playwright, Oscar Wilde had Lord Darlington quip, “A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”.  To paraphrase Wilde, those motivated by self-interest determine their own worth regardless if they provided value or not. 

This is a scary reality to consider, but often a true one, especially in today’s marketing world.  There are many companies that come off as self-interested.  The ones that don’t, do something very basic, they define, communicate and provide value expecting nothing in return.  The question is, why bother investing the time and resources to create content that does not guarantee immediate returns?  Because content creates a body of work that earns trust and attention.  Giving value through content without attempting to monetize it, is a key strategy for successfully marketing your company or personal brand.

Businesses often make the fatal mistake of focusing on maximizing sales as opposed to maximizing value.  If your business can make a case that your product or service can increase a prospective customer’s value, they will be willing to pay more in the long run. 

There are plenty of good examples, especially within the financial services industry.  Many popular asset management firms gladly provide their own industry knowledge through white papers, market trend reports and interviews on trending topics in attempts to reach the widest audience possible.  The Vanguard Group does a very good job with their value producing content.  This question and answer formatted video example provides targeted answers to actual questions that came to them through Twitter and Facebook.  Check it out, and consider creating your own content with a priority on adding value, not revenue.  It will provide your company with long lasting credibility and relevance that short term profits cannot compete against.  

Riding Trend Spotting Waves

Many times, early adopters are rewarded while laggards miss out on key opportunities. 

In 2015, Google announced mobile traffic overtook desktop traffic in 10 different countries including US and Japan. Mobile users demand more than desktop users.  Why?  Because they are driven by convenience of immediacy and relevance.  Think about it tactically.  The entire mobile experience is driven by screen swipes, smart filters, and dedicated app development.  All of these functions are built on the premise they make consuming content efficient.  The same efficiency is demanded with content as well.  It must also be easy to access and relevant.  

If your content does not have the impact it should, you should start asking yourself why. At the end of the day, content has to be good, engaging and most importantly, relevant.  How do you achieve relevancy?  Focus on trending topics.    

Standalone, self-contained advertisements are slowing going away.  In the mobile social media world, the advertisement is the product.  The best way to push the product is to make it relevant, and ephemeral towards existing trends. This is called trend spotting. 

Trend spotting involves identifying hot topics or what your audience is buzzing about.  It’s an integral part of a successful content distribution campaign.  Identifying trends is easy. Resources are just about everywhere; Google Trends, Twitter Trends, numerous news aggregation sites, trend mapping sites, etc.  The key to achieving relevance and engagement is timing and repetition.  While it is important to produce really good content, do not lose sight of those two important factors.  Producing content that speaks to or parallels recent trends places your own content in a position of relevance, easily seen by the masses.  Everyone is giving attention to the same wave, catch it before it breaks.  If you do miss a really good wave, paddle back out and try to grab another one, this is where the repetition comes in. 

Popular YouTube vloggers do a very good job of leveraging trend spotting.  A very recent trend topic is the augmented reality mobile game, Pokemon Go.  Launched in the U.S. by Nintendo affiliate Niantic just 2 weeks ago on July 6, it’s currently number one on both the top grossing and free apps available today.  Mega popular, daily YouTuber, Casey Neistat released a real life version of the game just today called ‘Pokemon Go IN REAL LIFE’.  This is a perfect example of successfully riding a trend spotting wave.  Take a look. 

Social Media Content Marketing

Most marketers have a long held belief in the effectiveness in target segmentation.  There is a problem with that.  Why?  Because it’s 2016, not 1995. 

Mobile communication has completely shifted applicability of a long held belief, that you can increase revenue by targeting your consumer demographics.  Today, potential buyers are so much better armed with digital resources which empower them to make informed, sophisticated buying decisions.  As a marketer, you need to understand what they hold most dear, time and attention. 

Most marketing professionals learned classical market strategy theory preaching niche or growth market strategy.  Both of these strategies have a heavy reliance on your ability to parse out your potential consumers.  For example, it was easy to single out a group of 18-40 year old women earning more than $35k per year.  All you had to do was enlist some market segmentation research tools like Nielsen or Claritas.  This allowed you to pick medium channels this group of women usually consume and advertise on them.  Here is the problem with this way of thinking, it’s not nearly as effective as it used to be.  This is due to the massive attention shift to digital social media platforms.  Today, 53% of smartphone users are on social media.  These people are no longer looking at your targeted marketing advertisements on the Lifestyle, MTV, or Esquire channels.  They are looking at their social media apps.  

Still not convinced digital social media marketing is better?  Just look at the numbers.  As of April 2016, Pinterest had 100 million users, Snapchat had 200 million users, Twitter had 320 million, Instagram had 400 million and Facebook had 1.6 billion.  If Facebook were a city, it would be the 5th largest in the United States.  

Social media users are sophisticated.  They selectively choose which content they want to watch. This puts marketers in the uncomfortable position of having to adopt a mass marketing strategy. This type of strategy ignores segment differences and instead, relies on emotional response content to drive consumer behavior.  This is called content marketing.  It’s not about creating content to introduce product or service anymore.  It’s not about explaining product differentiation to your competitors either.  It’s about producing stories that appeal to consumer’s values and beliefs so they create an emotional attachment to what you are selling. 

Look at a company called Blue Apron.  They sell perishable ready to cook, farm fresh ingredients in boxes with recipes.  If you think they are just selling quality food, you would be wrong.  They are selling convenience, time management, and food sustainability.  All of these attributes appeal to consumer’s emotions and that is why they are succeeding.  Their content marketing includes a blog that has professionally crafted videos about agricultural sustainability, locally sourced products, professional chiefs making cooking look effortless and how to videos showing you the most efficient way to slice onions.  That is how content marketing works in the mobile smartphone social media world we live in today. 

We are not saying ditch your currently marketing strategy, only, be aware of what is currently drawing your consumers attention and where.  Consider deploying unique, professionally created content that tells stories versus pushing product.  In short, stop trying to market as though it was still 1995.  

The Power of Storytelling

I can remember as a kid my parents reading stories to me.  I would imagine what the main characters looked like, what their mannerisms looked like, and what the scenery looked like.  In short, I filled in all of the thousands of nuances it took to translate the author’s descriptions into my own version of reality.  Storytelling promotes this very personal process and as a result, creates emotional attachments to the narrative.   This is a powerful and personal process that we as humans yearn for.  Storytelling in all its forms like publishing, entertainment, healthcare or tax preparation services are just one of those industries that will never not have an audience. 

So how does this translate into the marketing industry?  Think about product life cycle.  The basic theory says at product introduction, adoption tends to be slow but steady.  You may get those early adopters at first that always want to try out new things.  As adoption increases, you enter growth phase. Eventually, maturity hits and sales start to plateau.  As sales start to slow product enters decline stage. 

Advertisers have known about this fundamental process for decades.  As a result, the majority of ads have a singular focus on product ready to be deployed at just the right stage to boost sales.  There will always be demand for ads such as these, but it’s important to understand, they take a short term view of marketing.  While they may succeed to push product, they fail to create long term attachment to brand.  This is where storytelling comes in to play.  Storytelling doesn’t focus singularly on product promotion, instead it dives into creating a narrative of company culture, values, and behavior.  If done with success, it creates long term emotional attachment to company brand, irrespective of various product launches. 

There are countless successful examples.  The famous Apple Macintosh computer commercial from 1984.  Red Bull’s Stratos space jump story of Felix Baumgartner. One of the most poignant examples of storytelling we have ever seen can be found in our own backyard here in Baltimore.  Chris Wilson’s story of perseverance is nothing short of inspiring.  Impoverished, disillusioned, imprisoned, reincarnated, redeemed, this story has it all.   Many times, deep personal experiences are the source of the best stories, no matter how they were developed, based on success or redemption.   

On The Anacostia River by Tyrone Eaton

Yesterdays photography adventure on the Anacostia River was awesome! Thanks to Mary Vasse & Lee Cain for allowing me the opportunity. Spending about 2 hours on the Anacostia traveling through our Nations Capital really took me back. It was so peaceful and relaxing that at times I forgot I was within walking distance to the hustle and bustle of downtown Washington, DC. Up until yesterday, I had never seen our Nations Capital from such an natural and beautiful perspective. If you haven't been down by M Street in Southeast, DC in a while, you need to take a trip. What the Anacostia Watershed Society and their partners have done to revitalize this amazing natural resource and the communities it touches is amazing.  

Amazing photoshoot with Baltimore's Top Google Certified Photographer & Marketing Professional!

Amazing photoshoot with Baltimore's Top Google Certified Photographer & Marketing Professional!

I had an fantastic time shooting with Robert Dawson, Baltimore's top Google Certified Photographer & Marketing Professional. First impressions in business are vital! Don't start yours with a cell phone photo. Contact me today to schedule your Professional Social Media Makeover soon as well!