Technology and focus aid differentiated segmentation
Previously, we’ve written about why content marketing is taking over the world. As more consultants and coaches get in the game, you risk your content being missed in an overcrowded online space. To avoid the effects of content dilution, you will need to differentiate your content creation and then benefit from the advantages of differentiated marketing.
The need to differentiate isn’t new
In truth, the need to be different from your competitors hasn’t changed. What has changed is that the world has moved on. Instead of marketing through media such as newspapers, magazines, radio and television, coaches must prioritize social media, take advantage of email marketing, and optimize websites and content for SEO.
How past products have won through differentiation
The digital world has brought your clients and potential clients closer to you than ever before. It has made marketing easier. However, it has made replication easier, too; not only replication of your products and services, but also of your content.
Your target audience is in greater charge of their customer journey. To speak to them and ensure you become their solution, you must be different. Only then will you become their choice in a crowded marketplace.
This isn’t as new a concept as you might believe. The history of commerce is packed with companies that won the differentiation game, long before customers were found on the internet. By using the right tactics, companies have gone from nowhere to being market leaders in their field.
For example, in the mid-20th century the Joseph Shiltz Brewing Company didn’t become the world’s largest brewing company by accident. In a crowded market, Schiltz was languishing at number five in the United States. It brewed beer with the same processes as all other brewers, but positioned itself as being unique. In its advertising, Schiltz highlighted its water purification process. It didn’t matter that all other brewers did the same. Schiltz was the first to highlight water purification as a benefit of drinking its beer. Its sales rocketed.
Your challenge is to make your content stand out as being unique, and ensure it reaches the audience you are targeting.
Differentiate your content to shout to your target audience
SEO (search engine optimization) is key in content marketing. When the internet was still a newborn, SEO was centred on general keywords.
As content has exploded, ranking for these general keywords has become impossible. Instead, to differentiate yourself from the competition, your keywords must be more specific. Thus, long-tail keywords are used: far less competition, and, though there are fewer searches, they are more targeted and interact with the customer journeys that matter – those that are nearing the buying phase.
A similar approach of specialization is what is needed when producing content. There is so much general content available, much of which is virtually identical, that if you don’t specialize you won’t get noticed. The answer is to be specific in your approach. There are many ways to achieve this. Here are a few strategies to employ.
Become the authority in your market
People search out market authority, and they share authoritative content. To do similar, you’ll need to produce highly researched pieces of content. This includes:
- Funding independent research targeted to your narrow field of expertise
- Ensure that the research is not ‘targeted’ to commercialize your products and services
- Be prepared to share the research
This type of content is expensive. Research does not come cheaply. Therefore, it’s usually the big companies with deep pockets that produce this type of research.
There are many types of blog post – listicles, curation, how-to, stories, etc. You might choose to concentrate on only one of these and be specific in the content you produce.
For example, you concentrate on lists. You further concentrate on business administration. You concentrate on the human resource side. And you focus on health and wellbeing in the workplace. You include case studies.
Having such pinpoint focus means you become an expert at producing this type of content, improve your workflow, and produce content that is way better than your competition. You must remain disciplined and produce the type of content that will resonate with your target customers.
Be the source of honesty
People won’t expect your content to include negativity, so when it does, it stands out. This is an honest approach that many don’t understand. It also flies in the face of the way most businesses work. They don’t want people to hear any potential downside of using their products or services, for fear of losing sales.
Taking an honest approach to your content takes bravery – but is no different to the way in which pharmaceuticals must be sold. Benefits and side effects must be explained.
A source of honesty is a breath of fresh air. It denotes you as a straight talker, unafraid to discuss pros and cons, and ready to keep your audience fully informed.
The opinionated approach
People naturally gravitate to others with similar opinions to themselves. Producing content that is opinionated in its approach will foster stronger links and relationships than bland, middle-of-the-road blogs and videos.
You’ll need to include evidence that backs up your opinions, and make sure that you produce well-written thought leadership articles. This type of content will lose some potential clients, and it will attract others. Those whom it attracts are more likely to turn into loyal followers and supporters of your brand.
While some consultants gain traction from the depth of their content, or for their opinion, another strategy is to be the first with news. If people consider you to be a good source of breaking news and views, you will be on their list of trusted sources.
However, this strategy requires you to be ever-present – and that’s a tall order for smaller organizations. If you do have the time and energy to commit to this approach, a good channel for publication is Twitter – short, to-the-point posts that help grow your audience numbers. Your role in this process becomes akin to a middle man, letting people know where they can go for more information, which is likely to be a third (unconnected) party.
A lot of the content published today is littered with errors. Poor spelling and grammar, imperfect punctuation and flaky formatting discourage the reader to continue with your content. This is a bigger problem than many small business owners would like to admit.
The truth is that people view such elementary errors as indicative of your attention to detail in your field of expertise – if you cannot be bothered to use the correct ‘they’re’, ‘their’, or ‘there’, how can you be trusted to do a good job with a client?
The social media approach
It’s tough starting from zero. The finish line seems a long way off. Employing social media in your content strategy can fuel the growth of your following. People are more likely to comment on, follow and share a Facebook or LinkedIn post than a blog post.
Combining social media with blogging and encouraging readers to transfer between them and to sign up as followers will help to build a content platform of renown.
Help your audience find your content
Deciding on a strategy to differentiate your content is only the first step in the differentiation process. It’s imperative that you employ tactics to interact with your target audience along an increasingly complex customer journey.
Differentiation is personalization to your target customer. But how do you do that when each is on a different path to the buying decision? How do you advertise your products and services to people interacting in different ways, at different points on unique customer journeys?
Differentiate to different customers using a technology edge
Have you ever watched someone at a delicatessen counter, and tried to second guess what their next purchase will be? Servers is store and in restaurants get pretty good at this game. With the right software, you can do the same with your online visitors.
Web surfers and internet users show their intent by the actions they take online. Machine learning enables improving capacity to predict what content a user will follow, which sites they will click on, and what interest and needs they have. You can then use this data to inform your content creation and your advertising strategy. Instead of paying for ads that display to a blanket audience, your ads will target people who are most likely to be interested in the products and services you are selling.
Using intent to grab attention works spectacularly well. Google Brand Lift Targeting Analysis October 2016 – March 2017 found that intent-based audiences on mobile have a:
- 20% higher ad recall
- 50% higher brand awareness
Creating targeted ad campaigns has never been more productive – market to the people most likely to take the action you want, and your ROI rockets.
Market different versions of the same ad
OK, so you have a great idea of who your target customer is, and so you create differentiated content to market to this demographic. But even though you’ve created super-specific content, is it specific enough? For example, you might find that your target audience is split between theatregoers, movie freaks, bookworms and sports fanatics.
In the past, you could try to create ads that broadly matched all these sets of audiences, and probably missed most. Or, you could put extra time, effort and money into creating multiple versions of each content and ad. Today, tools allow you to create multiple versions of the same content with ease. Caesars Entertainment did exactly this when it created different versions of the same ad using YouTube Director Mix – producing ads to appeal to sports fans and music lovers.
Tailor to your visitor’s last engagement
How do you keep your audience on site for longer and encourage them to return? The answer is to give them what they want (as we’ve discussed above) and give them more of it. When a user visits your site, and using intent tools, you can ‘see’ where they have visited previously. This gives you great clues as to what content they are searching for, and the opportunity to suggest where they should visit next.
You can also use similar tools to tailor your ad experience. Viewers of ads on YouTube, for example, can receive tailored ads based on how they engage with an ad. If they stay and view a complete 30-second ad, you might show them more in-depth content next time. If they cut out after 10 seconds, then a highly-focused call-to-action ad would probably be more appropriate.
This strategy worked for 20th Century Fox when it advertised ‘The Greatest Showman’. Ad sequencing produced a near 150% uplift in consideration and a third higher view-through conversion.
What does all this mean for you?
In an interconnected world, it is easier to reach your audience and easier to become invisible. It is crucial to differentiate your content so that it provides real impact. But even the most unique content will fail to drive your business to its full potential if you don’t get it in front of your target audience.
The evolution of the customer journey has made marketing more complex. However, the cutting-edge technology available today has made cutting through the noise of generic content possible and profitable.
In short, produce the specific content that your audience desires and make it unique when compared to your competition. Make it specific and specialized. Then, use technology to its greatest effect – to find your audience, determine what content they want, and market that content directly to them.
You know what your audience looks like. Technology will help you find them. Unique content will help you hook them.
To find out more and discover how we help businesses grow by perfecting SEO, content marketing, email marketing, and building a social media presence, contact BlabberJax today.
In the meantime, tell us what you have found to be your biggest content marketing challenge in the comments below. We’ll be happy to get in touch and help you find the solution.