Nobody likes writing about themselves, do they? That’s one of the best things about working in marketing – I get to tell other people’s stories and don’t have to dwell on my own for too long. But, having just joined the team at Direct Approach I agreed to write an introductory blog so here we go.
I’ve always been fascinated by what makes people choose certain brands and I’ve always been mindful of a brand’s identity when I am looking for a product or service myself. Most of us seem to naturally gravitate towards businesses or companies that have a strong story behind them, or are at least, excellent at creating content that supports their product. I graduated in 2006 with a degree in journalism; this also happened to be the year that Twitter launched and my journey into digital marketing was largely influenced by the rise of social media. I’m in a constant state of learning (thanks to the nature of digital marketing) and am currently working towards a Chartered Institute of Marketing Diploma.
That’s more than enough about me, let’s talk about marketing
If I had a pound coin for every time someone used marketing and advertising interchangeably, I’d probably feel a lot more relaxed about buying coffee from Starbucks. It’s a similar story with sales; a lot of senior management will have both sales and marketing in their job title. While the two job functions are important to each other’s success and the wider organisational goals align, they’re not the same. It might seem like an incredibly obvious thing to say, but you’d probably be surprised at how often people assume I know how to make a sale because I’m a marketer. Trust me, I’m not a salesperson. Marketing, at its core, is the use of customer insight and research to inform on activities that are designed to generate new business leads, or retain existing ones. How these insights are gathered and how the research is carried out is very much down to the individual business and will depend on the skillset of the marketer; though the Internet has undoubtedly made it easier to access information and even collate it across multiple dashboards. To put it simply, it’s about tapping into the wants, needs, and desires of consumers and serving them with an awesome customer experience.
Content is constantly giving us more
Way back when SEO was the driving force behind digital marketing, people were churning out content at break-neck speed. The quality of this content was questionable at its very best (check out the image below for a stunning example of this).
It worked in getting businesses to the top of Google search results though, so businesses and SEO ‘experts’ kept doing it. That was until Google decided that nope, generic spun content wouldn’t cut it anymore. With every algorithm update over the past decade, Google’s tolerance for duplicated, spun, spammy, or keyword-stuffed content has decreased considerably. Search tools got more sophisticated; you could search videos, images, and articles from just one Google search. And it just keeps growing – voice search is now a major consideration for businesses of all sizes when they are working on search marketing strategy and influencers are already finding ways to use AR (augmented reality) in their marketing. The way people search for products and services keep changing and evolving with the technology that facilitates it. It’s scary, isn’t it?
It’s also extremely exciting.
Businesses across all industries are in a constant state of competitive analysis as they try to either keep up with or stay ahead of their nearest rivals. Google favours relevant, well crafted content; and this same content tends to do much better on social media (I’ll talk more about viral content in another blog). The result of this? Increasingly valuable blogs, articles, features, videos, infographics, podcasts, and more. More useful content benefits end users and businesses; if you’re satisfying your customer base with content that is relevant and offers them something useful you go a long way to nailing a robust retention strategy. That is, until a digital disrupter comes along and takes a huge bite of your market share and you have to work on refining your content to compete. It’s not a perfect cycle, of course businesses will get it wrong from time to time and in the very worst cases, a digital marketing faux pas can completely tank a company’s reputation.
Social media – the marmite of digital marketing
I could write dozens of blogs on examples of best and worst social media use (and I probably will if they’ll let me). There tends to be two reactions to social media from new businesses in particular – “hell yes!” or “no thank you very much.” Some marketers will tell you that it’s absolutely vital that you get your business on social media, and then there are others that will tell you it’s not essential and you can probably rely on good old fashioned word of mouth to build your customer base. The annoying reality is that most business needs will be somewhere in between the two. Your industry, goals, target audience, location, and even your staff will play a part in deciding if social media is an option for you- and even then it’s not remotely close to being an exact science. That’s where people like me come in. I live and breathe social media; both inside and outside of work – and I still get plenty of fresh air, find time to play with my son, and go to the gym.
Social media has seamlessly integrated into my life and a lot of those touchpoints are with businesses or brands that I purchase from. I post a video to Instagram while I’m lifting weights in the gym, use relevant hashtags to reach industry experts who then engage with me on technique, I am then introduced to their personal training services. While playing football with my little boy at the local park, I realise that I’m never going to be able to be a coach capable of developing his skills so I navigate to the local Facebook page and ask for local club recommendations. I see that a fellow marketer posts an eye catching graphic on LinkedIn – they’ve completed a design course to enhance their skills and I find the course provider through her recommendation. By now you’re hopefully seeing that by understanding your target audience and anticipating their needs, you can position your business on social media to be visible at the right time.
Of course it’s a little more complicated than that, but that’s for me to worry about, not you.
If you want to understand, or at least investigate the potential for your business to flourish on social, get in touch and I’d be happy to tell you about the time I almost went viral on Twitter.