Usefulness: A Digital Marketing Roadmap
A changing Scenario in Digital Marketing
Advertising has always been the tool most often used to attract the attention and sell to our audience. This is especially true before digital media became so pervasive.
Businesses pay to compete for the attention of their customers. Examples of media utilized to broadcast their message include newspaper, television and digital media.
Paid advertising in different forms is still hugely effective on digital media and I do support an intelligent use of paid media in some conditions. But this is the topic for another post.
This time I’d like to present a different framework described by Jay Baer in his book Youtility, where he describes a consolidating trend in digital marketing; a trend that has become possible, and necessary within the scenario defined by digital technologies.
In a certain perspective, the underlying point of traditional advertising is a message such as: “Hey, look how good we are! We are your best choice!” (… give us your money … )
However, consumers have become tired of this approach and are escaping these types of messages. The modern day digital environment empowers customers by providing access to a huge number of information sources to learn about a company’s reputation or product before making a purchase. For an example, consumers have been doing what we call “show-rooming”, which means they stand at retail stores staring at their smart-phone reading reviews of their next running shoes before they buy them.
Well, I’m surely on of them. I’m just trying to get a good pair of running shoes.
Our customers have developed higher expectations and are becoming less and less inclined to blindly trust brands. Especially when brands’ creativity is limited to simply promoting themselves. Why would customers care and why would they have faith?
Instead, your company should attract its audience by providing usefulness from the very earliest stages of the relationship, which is often far in advance of your customers paying you money.
Examples of usefulness.
Hilton, the famous hotel chain, uses a Twitter account under the name, Hilton Suggests. The people who manage the account, “listen” to Twitter users across the globe, and provide suggestions and information. They solve the traveller problem often suggesting a visit to a restaurant or hotel that does not belong to Hilton. Their purpose is simply to be helpful. Do you think the people who receive their help are going to appreciate the brand? Yes, you are right, they will.
Another example is Clorox. This brand sells laundry cleaning products. They make themselves useful to their audience with solid information on how to get rid of clothes stains. Their advice will not necessarily involve the use of any of their products. They just want to help.
These are ways to provide genuine usefulness. People who benefit from this kind of help, develop a new bond with the brand and will try their best to choose it for their next trip, or their next stain.
According to this approach, companies have a choice.
- They can use money and resources buying old interruptive ads on traditional paid media that people reject.
Or they can provide genuine usefulness to the people they want to attract. People/customers are attracted by this type of marketing and want more of it.
- With traditional paid media you lose opportunities to measure. Who (and how many) read your messages? Where are they? These are questions that remain unanswered.
(With digital paid media instead you can measure most everything).
- You audience will filter you out. You are competing for their attention not only with your competitors but with their friends.
- You do not accrue value. The day after the ad is published on the newspaper, you can’t measure the outcome and, you will have to keep paying if you want to be on top of the mind of your audience.
Instead, when companies choose to provide usefulness, and they talk about it on digital media, they achieve beneficial, durable, outcomes.
- The work and the content developed on and for the digital media accrues and becomes a long term tangible asset. Everything that is on digital media is found for years by search engines.
- The connection with customers happens at their level in a context they find friendly and useful;
Marketing efforts are measured with laser-like precision; so are the outcomes;
- The company creates bonds, trust and goodwill among the people they want to attract.
This is a set of activities that will typically happen at the top of your sales funnel.
These activities will often be related to content production, but do not have to be digital. Digital has become an essential channel to develop relationships with customers. But this is not the point.
The core message is that you want to approach our customers making yourself useful with no precondition. This is our investment.
Please read the slides from n. 29 in the presentation. You will find a roadmap on how to execute useful marketing you customers want. Below is a short summary:
- Define who your customers are and what they need;
- Map your marketing to their needs: how do they best obtain access to what you can deliver;
- Market your usefulness: inform people about your brilliant initiatives;
- Design and plan operations. Make it a process;
- Measure efforts and outcomes.
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