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The irony is not lost on me that I am writing a blog (content) on why content isn’t all it was.

But talk to many business owners about their ability to directly link their content to active red hot leads is ambiguous. From a marketing standpoint yes, arggh, we know you need content. You need an active website. You need to update and revisit your content for the Google gods to reward you with a top of the pops ranking but if anyone out there is creating content it’s a hard slog. I know I’m the bearer of bad news here but you’re competing again millions of blogs getting published each day. That’s right each day. In 2019 its estimated that 4.4 million blogs were published E-V-E-R-Y day. It quickly starts feeling like a thankless task.

The reasons behind content creation is for two things.

  1. To share a little about you, let people get to know your area of expertise, your passions and what you do day to day.
  2. The next is to put them at the top of a sales funnel and with more and more content the intent is to work the prospect through your funnel, keep reminding them that you’re there until they are ultimately convinced that you and your business are the right option for them.

Here’s the problem of why the conversion is unclear. Subscribers, readers, followers can be a passive bystanders for many days, months and years consuming content and if we never purchase then that is a lot of time and money out the door for creators in the hope someone will pick up the phone. 

We can measure likes but we can’t measure engagement unless it results in an action.  Unfortunately, I’ve confirmed the need to create content is still there. Articles, blogs and videos are all necessary evils but if you want to engage people on a higher level we need to turn up the notch a little.

Ok Liv, ‘where’s it all at?’ I hear you say. It all lies with creating…

 …an Engaged Community

 Community offers the one thing that we all want and need which is connection. If there is anything that this time of housebound madness has taught us is that we need connections.We need to offer the chance for our customers and potential customers to meet with us on a different plain. Sure, it might not be face to face all of the time but many people have proven connection online is totally doable.

I’ve held some online sessions of late and it was with some apprehension and some reservation on whether I could create engaging experiences in the online space. My happy place is in a room full of people with a some post-its sharpies and an ability to read a room. These are all things I miss and I won’t lie it is slightly trickier in an online space but it’s totally doable. It comes down to authenticity and fulfilling a need. It could be the need for a chat or the need for information or inspiration. We’re all after something. 

Why is creating connections more effective than content?

By creating a community and connections you are offering an opportunity for people to connect, learn from each other and provide an experience.

When you write the next earth shattering post you’ll experience what many of us content creators do. Some people read it. Most will scroll past it, or like it without reading it, save it to read later (which is as good as filing it in the bin) or perhaps not even see it if because they haven’t opened up their spam that day or logged onto LinkedIn or Facebook.

By creating a conversation instead of posting an article you begin a live connection and form communication that isn’t all one way. There is back and forth, engagement respect and understanding. It’s not a passive speed read and then back into the newsfeed.

It’s an opportunity to connect with people who are facing the same challenges and discuss some solutions. It’s an opportunity to get off the sales soap box and step down and have some real conversations and its where magic happens. In this kind of scenario, its highly likely you won’t have all the answers and the good news is that you don’t need all the answers. You’re providing an opportunity for others to think.Connections are more important now more than EVER

Let’s look at the importance of connections in a time of crisis

At 8:45am on September 11, 2001 suddenly an explosion near the top of the north tower of the World Trade Centre occurred. Thousands stopped in their tracks to watch black smoke pour from the place of impact—an awful lot of smoke for what initially was mistaken for a small plane that had lost its way.

An attack on the world economy would leave more than an economic crisis, it was a human one. That statement might be sounding a little too familiar right now?In the wake of the attacks isolation and fear never being higher in NYC. Survivors had lost entire families. Workers lost colleagues and finding a new place in the world when overcome with grief is no easy feat. In 2002 Scott Heiferman done something he had never done before. He met his neighbours. The ideas of how to strengthen community engagement and connections gave him a flurry of ideas. 30 to be exact and two of which he acted on. One of those was the creation of the MeetUp platform.

Many of use have joined MeetUp groups to learn and connect over common interests and it’s a hugely rewarding networking experience. The last record of user numbers of MeetUp was done in 2017 and was flagged at over 35 million people worldwide. Clearly a few of us out there feel the need to be a part of a community.Let’s also not forget the theory of give to receive. By helping others on the journey by being involved in your world and further understanding your skills and flat out superstar charisma (ok not all of us have that but you know what I mean) people are less likely to feel pressured to click here or call now.

Now can you convert your customers and potential customers into a community? Don’t know where to start? Then let’s bounce some ideas around and start thinking what your community might look like…. I’m up for a coffee when you are.

Welcome to the H2H era. The human to human era where the recipe for success lies in our ability to identify the needs and understand the mindsets of our customers instead of the old ‘have I got a deal for you’ tactics.

One of the most common questions I get asked after delivering presentations on anything to do with marketing is “what is the difference between B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer) marketing”.

Which means if I’m a business how can I market my products or services to other businesses rather than to consumers. In fairness this is a valid question as a lot of marketing advice and tactics are focussed on getting messages out to consumers. My argument doesn’t normally come as too much of a shock to my audiences as I’ve normally spent 30 mins before had talking about human centred marketing.

The response is this…… marketing now needs to unwind itself from theories of interruption and spruiking wears. We are no longer in the soap box era of come check out this latest gadget that will set your hair on fire.

An old pic of a soap box

Instead we are in an era where this has been done to death and frankly as humans, we are sick of being told what’s great about a product. We have grown up in the consumer age where this is all we’ve heard and quite frankly as a society we’re over it.

When managing my own marketing team back in the day I’d often hear it said, “everyone thinks they’re an expert when it comes to marketing.” Often this came after a big unveiling of the next campaign or promotion that promised to deliver big results. At the conclusion of any unveiling what often happened was the marketer was left standing at the front of the room putting their hard work on a silver platter only for the rest of the team to pick, poke and tear it apart. Then if that wasn’t enough, they’re asked to go back to the kitchen and drench it in tomato sauce.

Why… well often the marketing team works in isolation and they work with external creative teams who never come in contact with a customer. They then set upon their campaigns like its secret squirrels’ business. When the final unveiling happens it often lands as a surprise to teams who feel they are the ones accountable to hit the targets and the feedback is that this isn’t the support they had in mind or it simply won’t hit the mark.

I watched this many times and have experienced it myself, but I always impart my view which is that ‘everyone IS an expert in marketing’. This is for so many reasons. In a workplace often marketing is often the last step and is necessary for launch instead of being involved from the get-go. Everyone should be on the same page of the same book, in the same library.

In a wider picture we’ve all grown up in the consumer era where products promise outstanding results, tourism promises the trip of a life time, investing will get you the life of your dreams and unfortunately marketing has done a good job in making all of this look convincing. So now we look through the too good to be true promotional offer. We look for the truth, we seek out reviews, we talk to people to find recommendations because nobody wants to be caught out.

That bigger picture view is what led me to the conclusion its not B2B or B2C but human to human? What I mean is that the principles of successful marketing are the same. If what we are offering fulfils a need (a genuine need, not one dreamed up on a whiteboard) and we have an authentic offering with a positive experience and genuine marketing message then success is imminent.

Businesses are made up of people making decisions every day. So whilst the social platform might change or the time of day you post what we need is to look beyond tactics. How are we meeting a persons need. Does it really matter if they are in an office behind a desk or at the grocery store? A need is a need. If we dedicate our time to uncovering more about our customers and get into their shoes to uncover WHY they buy, what they need to buy or how they want to buy then this pays off in the long run.

“The premise of human-to-human marketing is one human buying from another. It taps into the human psyche and helps you form a broader and more complete form of marketing that can exceed almost any other form.”

Sarah Davies

So here’s some quick tips on how you can start embracing the human to human era.

Key tips

Define reality

So many times we get carried away with our own ego’s when someone comes up with an idea in a meeting we hit the white board and we all spend the next 30 mins convincing ourselves why this will work. Of course this is often in isolation from society, trends, the market, adjacent markets, competitors, company culture, short and long term plans. So take it from the whiteboard and get out there. Get a team together to tear the idea apart then build it back up again. Talk to some experts, talk to some customers. Just talk!  

Harness the horse power your in your stable

Before you go out and start marketing and outsourcing to creatives challenge the team inside your organisation to validate so called ‘whiteboard idea’. Get some data, historical evidence, and most importantly some analysis of what problem you’re solving.

Get the opinions of your sales or service delivery team. This data may not be quantitative, but you’ll find quality insights from teams in the thick of it. In other words, people directly connected to who you are trying to sell to. Three words collaborate, collaborate, collaborate.

Ok, ok I know its one word repeat 3 times, but you get the message. It’s important.

Don’t forget to say thank you

Look at your post-purchase experience. What can you do to amplify the positive experience you’ve just provided and better yet ask how else you can help. Many organisations will step away from the post experience analysis but this is such a valuable way to unlock opportunities for future business growth, future relationship building and future referral.

The post-purchase feedback will be the key conversation that will unlock all the opportunities you can improve on for you future customers experiences. Then rinse and repeat.

First of all be clear about what you’re trying to achieve. Clarify your goals and then look for a marketing consultant who can deliver on these. This is important as we’ll mention again later marketing can cover a lot. Be clear about what it is you need. Is it a social media expert? Is it help with researching your customer? Is it capturing testimonials? Is it driving leads? Think of the end goal and talk to a few professionals to see how they would deliver on your problem.

At the end of the day a marketing consultant is just like any other business consultant. They should be there to understand your business and then work with you on developing a strategy, planning and problem-solving.

The Start Up

You might be a start-up and let’s face it employees can be the overhead you just can’t afford. A consultant on an hourly rate seems a lot more suitable. You may just need some help validating your offering and then tightening up on your key messages such as an elevator pitch and value proposition.

The Small Business

Perhaps you’re a small business. Perhaps you’ve been doing the marketing yourself since you started the business and you simply don’t have time to do this and actually RUN your business. Considering a consultant could be the flexible option for you to see what can be possible from a professional before you commit to a permanent hire.

The Marketing Team

Perhaps you have a marketing employee but you’ve uncovered that marketing covers a lot of tasks. If you have someone in the hot seat whether it’s a marketing manager or marketing coordinator chances are they are doing everything from designing letter heads, coordinating office signage to managing all digital platforms and getting involved in many strategic projects when they get the chance. It’s hard for them to come up for air never mind clearing time for creative thought and strategic planning.  

Here are some major benefits to hiring a consult:

Focus

They are free to focus on the specific project and task you set for them. There’s no getting distracted with the demands of internal stakeholders and needing to sift through priorities day in day out. The focus is clear and because of this the deliverables are more efficient.

New points of view

Often working across various industries they can deliver a different point of view for your organisation. They will come equipped with success stories where tactics and strategies have had great impact and then they can adapt this to your organisation.

Skills and experience

The average consultant has worked in different industries and gained insights with their skills and experience over many years. You can benefit by acquiring the skills you need to take your business to the next level without having to permanently invest in hiring someone with that level of expertise.

UK-based research firm Source Global Research published a report stating “The Australian consulting market is now the largest in the world relative to national income.” This is a trend that doesn’t show any signs of slowing down as organisations seek external expertise to accelerate plans for growth.

The Finanical Review reported

“Firms in Australia are enthusiastic users of consulting services and were much more likely to call in the advisers than businesses in almost every other country”

This was according to the report Planning for Growth in 2017 by research firm Source Global Research.

Planning for Growth in 2017 by research firm Source Global Research.

David Zehner, the head of Bain in Australia and New Zealand further supported these sentiments stating “The premium consulting market in Australia has plenty of room to grow. The market for premium consulting services is growing because companies are increasingly aware of the value of external support.”

So if you’re considering a consultant you’re not alone. It’s a flexible option that allows you to access premium expertise and maintain a focus on driving change and results for your organisation.

At Liv By Design we are a Marketing and Design Thinking Consultancy based in Perth Western Australia. We come armed with a wide network of marketing experts from digital marketing, SEO, social and overall strategic planning and coaching. If you’re looking for some obligation free advice on how you accelerate your results we’d be happy to chat.

Thanks for now!

Why do you need a value proposition?

Let’s keep this really simple. Value propositions will help your customer understand what you do and how you do it in the shortest amount of time possible.

A value proposition only needs to be a couple of sentences long but it needs to be easily understood by your customer (so using their language) and tell them about the benefits that your company, your services or your product provides.

People feel at ease when they understand something. So it’s important to keep the audience in mind at all times when you are developing your proposition. A good value proposition describes what problems you solve, how and the key benefits to your clients. It’s letting them know why you are right for them.

By holding a fun brainstorming workshop to develop your value proposition you will not only attract more customers by succinctly communicating the benefits you provide but it will also:

  1. Provide your team with more clarity about what they need to prioritise in their roles
  2. Help your team passionately and accurately summarise what it is they and your company does
  3. Increase workplace engagement by giving teams a voice

Once you’ve got your value proposition your staff can use this in introductions and when they are telling people about what your organisation does. We all have short attention spans so at a networking opportunity you want your staff to be able to passionately and accurately represent your organisation.

Use your value proposition on your website and all your marketing collateral. To be clear though a value proposition is NOT a slogan or a TAGLINE. It’s what let’s people know what makes you different and how you can help them. It will help pave the way to a successful relationship as people won’t buy what they don’t understand.

You don’t need to stop there. Once you have your organisations value proposition why not start implementing versions for different functions of the business. You might have different products or services. Create a value proposition for all of these. If you’re recruiting create an Employee Value Proposition which will help you attract the talent you’re looking for but succinctly summarising the benefits your workplace provides.

At Liv By Design we completed 22 value propositions in 2 weeks with one organisation and different cross functional teams to the point where 90% of employees had been involved in creating a proposition.

Why was this so effective?

1. Most of those employees felt that if they needed to they could run the same rapid fire brainstorming workshop themselves.

2. It helped them remember what the propositions were because they had input into creating these.

3. It provided the staff with the ability to really strategise and discuss what was important to their clients and prioritise these. It helped simplify all the things they were trying to achieve in their roles and gave them a better view of what they needed to be dedicating time to.

Our value proposition workshops simply harness your team’s ideas, feedback and most importantly their knowledge of your clients. If you’d like to know more reach out we’d be happy to chat about how we could help.