April 5, 2012
This is a GREAT article to read if you’re stuck – specifically when it comes to Google+. ENJOY!!
February 29, 2012
I get this question a lot: “why can’t I just put my :30 commercial on my page to use as ‘video’ and call it a day?”
As a writer and contributor to years of news broadcasts and segment TV programs as well as someone who has made enough TV and radio ads to stretch from here to San Francisco, there is a CRITICAL difference between the “ads of old” – where we all jumped up and down, TOLD everyone why they simply HAD to come to our store or BUY our lovely cupcakes NOW….and what true “content” can accomplish.
Let’s back up. It was only a few years ago that those ads did a pretty good job, right? You wrote a little ad for the newspaper, or some copy for a radio or TV spot and while they ran, you focused on your business. They WORKED, right? Well, yes and no. Most people in small or medium businesses don’t go to the trouble of actually tracking how hard non-web advertisements are working – coupons work great for tracking effectiveness, by the way — and many entrepreneurs don’t have enough time to track and they just assume that the customers we have are generated by the ads we place. But, somewhere along the line, people just stopped listening. We all DVR our favorite shows now and watch ‘em on our schedule – not in real time – and boy, we zip right through those pesky spots. All of a sudden, the consumer is in charge.
Another point illustrating this shift is that we also now understand that the web allows us to search for the information we seek – including where to find GREAT cupcakes and how to make GREAT cupcakes. Now just for a moment – think if you were the one to TEACH them about GREAT cupcakes…well, now we’re cooking. I would get to know you better if it meant I would always have a great cupcake connection – that’s for sure.
This is the critical difference between content and advertising. Content SHARES real value. It doesn’t preach about our latest website project (purple cupcake) and how great it looks (pretty) or our new special razz-matazz thingy that will clean your floors and do your taxes (or make cupcakes that make us sexier). REAL content – the kind that your TRUE customers and clients will find VALUABLE is content that offers something, the answer to a long-raging problem, a bit of knowledge that you have accumulated over your career or a set of helpful tips that changes how people approach issues connected to your expertise. It doesn’t preach, it doesn’t use other people, it offers help and information that your potential customer can then use to make their businesses – or lives – work better.
So – back to our cupcake example. What if your website featured a blog that showed your life-and-times as a cupcake baker to the stars – or the masses? Fun, huh? OK – now, put up a few video tips. Find some blogs that feature bread bakers or candlestick makers or whatever is “adjacent” to your offering – and follow ‘em. Invite your friends to your Facebook Fan Page…..and make a little video about the perfect oven temperature for making cupcakes. What if then, you invited the people who enjoyed your little slice-of-life video or blog to a classe on how to make fantastic cupcakes? OR then….what if you tell this following you’re building that you’re sponsor a “Girl’s Night Out” thingy to make cupcakes and sample new, local wines during Breast Cancer Awareness Month? And you might invite some local book clubs to come and hold their weekly meetings in your store’s super-duper “comfy area” while they talked about Tolstoy? These are all ideas — at least in the cupcake realm — that will get people TALKING. Aside from building trust and offering information that makes people’s lives and businesses work better, that’s what great CONTENT is all about. Sure, you might use the media to tell people about it — or you might create a following on your blog or Facebook fan page and use that as your personal “exclusive invite” list for some of these content-focused activities. But all of a sudden, you’re ATTRACTING some pretty cool people, all of whom love cupcakes. Your perfect customer.
Now, hold on just a damn minute. If I am telling everyone my fabulous recipe for cupcakes, won’t they just do it themselves and never buy my cupcakes? First of all, you are not “telling anyone” the fabulous recipe — you teach them how to bake. This is a bit of knowledge you have tips around and can share. It’s NOT a secret – there are literally THOUSANDS of books on baking cupcakes out there — and I still can’t do it well – but you are an expert. Write your own dang book, in fact. Secondly, “everyone” is not your customer – you are offering information to people who are your TRUE customer (more on this in a future blog post) and thirdly (thirdly?), do you think I want to be a cupcake baker in ALL of my fabulous free time? The time squeezed between the kids and soccer and my job? Not really.
Of course, there will be tire-kickers out there who just want to pick your brain and never pay you for the value you provide – and these are NOT YOUR TRUE CUSTOMERS. These are people to whom you should not pay attention – under any circumstances. You know who they are. Your intuition will tell you this person is not a fan – he wants to use your cupcake recipe to make his own bakery. These people are not your customers – they are stealing. Make sure you safe-guard your closely held secrets at all cost – this is not content, it’s BEGGING (and it’s not profitable and not sexy in the slightest). Sell him a cupcake and send him on his way.
Remember, your goal here is not to make a quick sale – it’s to build relationships and establish credibility. The agenda of true content, content marketing and in fact, blogging and all of business-connected social media, is not to make a quick sale. Never should be. The idea is – and always has been – that people do business with people they like and trust. Content allows you to share a sample of your knowledge – and become KNOWN for this knowledge. When you do this consistently, you become a trusted source – and who do you think people will seek out when they seek GREAT cupcakes?