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Six reasons your content strategy isn’t working

Content marketing is a top component to any brand’s efforts today, but if your content strategy isn’t working, there’s a reason. Let’s discuss.

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Your content strategy might need some help

Content marketing is one of the most important elements of your digital strategy, or so everyone is constantly telling you. But what if you aren’t receiving a ROI on all of the effort and capital you’ve put into that venture? More than likely it’s your strategy that’s broken, not content marketing in general. If you’re struggling to see positive results with your content marketing strategy, here are seven things you might be doing incorrectly.

1. You Don’t Have Goals in Mind

Content creation for the sake of content marketing isn’t going to cut it. You need a refined strategy that has a series of specific goals in mind. The Content Marketing Institute conducted a survey in 2014 that polled B2B marketers regarding their content marketing strategy. Of that group, 66 percent of successful marketers had a documented, goal-oriented strategy. Of those who were unsuccessful, only 11 percent had documented goals. If you want to find successful conversions with your strategy, you need specific goals and a purpose behind what you’re doing.

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2. You Aren’t Spending Enough

A successful content marketing strategy will require a significant chunk of capital and wisely allocated resources. According to the same Content Marketing Institute survey, successful marketers spent an average of 39 percent on their content creation while unsuccessful campaigns allocated only 16 percent of their marketing spending towards content. The successful marketers spent more than double what unsuccessful marketers spent with double the returns.

3. You Aren’t Inspiring Your Viewers

Your content must inspire your viewers in some way if you want it to sell. Inspiring content refers to any piece that creates a connection between the content and your reader. When consumers feel inspired, they share your work with others, which sends your ratings through the roof.

If you don’t know what inspiring content looks like, research trending videos. For example, the Austrian National Tourist Office ran a marketing campaign in which they invited 16 travel bloggers to share a once-in-a-lifetime experience #inAustria. They created a video montage of the experience to share with consumers and get them excited about the project. The video has an incredibly inspiring tone that lets users connect with the content, and thus the strategy.

4. You Aren’t Solving Problems

The content you create in your marketing strategy must serve as a solution to a problem. This is another way of saying that it must provide some value to the client. Narratives are excellent for catching user attention, but when your content provides a solution for solving the impossible, it creates a bond of trust between you and the consumer.

5. You Aren’t Using Multi-Media

Today, there are plenty of avenues you can take when creating content, and if you aren’t using a combination of each, you’re missing a significant opportunity. Images, gifs, infographics, videos, and memes are all exceptional forms of media that help to elevate the written word and bring life to an otherwise boring content strategy. That doesn’t mean that you should forgo blog posts, but it does mean that you should include multiple types of media as well.

According to a 2014 study, Buzzfeed is one of the top Facebook publishers because of their use of imagery. They know that multimedia gets clients to share their content, and they utilize this. Using multiple forms of media is one of the best tools you have for attracting high volumes of customer attention.

6. You Aren’t Catering to Your Audience

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons your content isn’t working is because you’re marketing to a community that doesn’t care. Producing content that you think your customer base wants isn’t the same as producing content that they actually want. You need a thorough understanding and knowledge of who your target audience is and what they want, which can be found with customer personas.

To create a customer persona, think of the type of people who buy your products and services. Write down their demographics, interests, and cultural differences. Then, think of the kinds of problems that these people might be facing and how your product can serve as a solution. Your finished customer personas will be exactly what you need to give your content strategy a facelift and see increased user engagement.

#ContentMarketing

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. When he's not consulting, glued to a headset, he's working on one of his many business projects. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Business Marketing

Use the ‘Blemish Effect’ to skyrocket your sales

(MARKETING) The Blemish Effect dictates that small, adjacent flaws in a product can make it that much more interesting—is perfection out?

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Presenting a product or service in its most immaculate, polished state has been the strategy for virtually all organizations, and overselling items with known flaws is a practice as old as time. According to marketing researchers, however, this approach may not be the only way to achieve optimal results due to something known as the “Blemish Effect.”

The Blemish Effect isn’t quite the inverse of the perfectionist product pitch; rather, it builds on the theory that small problems with a product or service can actually throw into relief its good qualities. For example, a small scratch on the back of an otherwise pristine iPhone might draw one’s eye to the glossy finish, while an objectively perfect housing might not be appreciated in the same way.

The same goes for mildly bad press or a customer’s pros and cons list. If someone has absolutely no complaints or desires for whatever you’re marketing, the end result can look flat and lacking in nuance. Having the slightest bit of longing associated with an aspect (or lack thereof) of your business means that you have room to grow, which can be tantalizing for the eager consumer.

A Stanford study indicates that small doses of mildly negative information may actually strengthen a consumer’s positive impression of a product or service. Interesting.

Another beneficial aspect of the Blemish Effect is that it helps consumers focus their negativity. “Too good to be true” often means exactly that, and we’re eager to criticize where possible; if your product or service has a noticeable flaw which doesn’t harm the item’s use, your audience might settle for lamenting the minor flaw and favoring the rest of the product rather than looking for problems which don’t exist.

This concept also applies to expectation management. Absent an obvious blemish, it can be all to easy for consumers to envision your product or service on an unattainable level.

When they’re invariably disappointed that their unrealistic expectations weren’t fulfilled, your reputation might take a hit, or consumers might lose interest after the initial wave.

The takeaway is that consumers trust transparency, so in describing your offering, tossing in a negative boosts the perception that you’re being honest and transparent, so a graphic artist could note that while their skills are superior and their pricing reasonable, they take their time with intricate projects. The time expectation is a potentially negative aspect of their service, but expressing anything negative improves sales as it builds trust.

It should be noted that the Blemish Effect applies to minor impairments in cosmetic or adjacent qualities, not in the product or service itself. Delivering an item which is inherently flawed won’t make anyone happy.

In an age where less truly is more, the Blemish Effect stands to dictate a new wave of honesty in marketing.

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Business Marketing

7 ways Instagram Stories get people pumped about your brand

(MARKETING) Instagram stories are widely used, so why shouldn’t marketers get in on the Insta-story action?

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Instagram Stories long ago surpassed Snapchat at it’s photo-sharing joy, and has found to be a great place to build brand awareness and build your customer base.

Here are a few ways that you can use stories to get people excited about your brand, products, and service.

1. Share the story of your business

Showcase the creation of a product or service, or share something (legal and fun) that your team is working on. These behind the scenes productions humanize your brand and can really get people excited about it. Check out what Union Fare does!

2. Preview live broadcasts

Are you doing a Facebook Live or WebEx demonstration? Use Instagram Stories to tease and generate some excitement or pull attendees from one social media platform to the other.

3. Showcase your stuff in action

Whether it’s demonstrating an application, showing off a recipe, or showcasing an outfit, you can use stories to show what the end result of a product is and help them generate ideas on how to use that stuff! Because Instagram Live can be done spontaneously, you can show authentic, non-scripted demonstrations easily.

4. Brag time

When you support a brand, you get excited that you are a part of their wins. Share relevant milestones (subscriber counts, new products, new revenue, new contracts, new products, etc.) with your base. This helps build connection with your base.

5. Countdowns and giveaways

You can use stories to facilitate ways to get people excited about upcoming giveaways or new launches. Unlike static marketing, the use of countdowns can really get people emotionally excited and build anticipation for new products or services. You could also use stories to give special sales or unique giveaways that give a more “exclusive” feeling.

6. “Takeovers” from influencers or partnerships

If you are working with a promoter or influencer, you can have them generate content to send them over to you to use their voice to target your audience. The influencer can send you pictures and videos that you upload yourself, rather than handing over your account username or password (like with Snapchat). This is a great way to work with someone who already has a following that can help you expand your service or product reach.

7. Create unique content

Odds are, especially for smaller businesses and new entrepreneurs, you don’t have a lot of time to invest in production value for other advertising. Instagram Stories with the use of stickers, paintbrush, and text can be a great place for raw, but still polished content that has a one of a kind feel. Familiarize yourself with the tools, and don’t be afraid to get artsy.

Make Instagram work for you

Instagram is constantly adding new features, so make sure you stay tuned for updates and play around with those features often. For example – Instagram stories can rewind or being hashtagged. Or use the eraser brush to do slow teases or product reveals.

Given that users can now bookmark content as well, you can create demonstrations or examples and give your audience a quick reference to your content. Get learning, check out stories, and start building those unique, intimate, and creative engagements with your consumers.

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Business Marketing

Half of all Instagram users buy immediately after seeing an ad

(MARKETING) If you’re advertising on Instagram and yielding no results, read on – it’s a gold mine for *some* types of brands.

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If you’ve been on Instagram you’ve likely fallen victim to the algorithm’s knack for showing you advertisements for something that seems exactly suited to your tastes. Or, someone you follow on the app tags their post with the name of the brands that make up their cute outfit and you decide to see what else they might offer. I’ve ended up with more than one pair of sneakers this way.

Instagram’s popularity and effectiveness have made it a marketing powerhouse. Over 130 million people look at product tags on the app each month.

Recently, Facebook commissioned a study asking users to explain what their interaction with companies and brands on Instagram was like. A whopping 66% of people said that the used Instagram to interact directly with brands — and 54% of users said they purchased something immediately after seeing an ad in their Instagram feed. Ads that are in the “stories” feature, independent of users’ feeds are especially effective.

After it was acquired by Facebook, Instagram has grown to account for over 19% of the tech-giant’s advertising spending — nearly double what it was in 2018.

Facebook is planning on continuing to capitalize on Instagram. They announced that soon users won’t need to navigate out of their feed to the retailer’s website purchase items, but rather have the ability to buy things in-app.

Instagram will take a cut of these in-app purchases and partner with PayPal to process payments, adding a new revenue stream to the growing platform.

As part of expanding its foray into shopping, Instagram is also partnering with its most popular influencers.

These people will be able to directly sell the products that their sponsors are offering through their accounts, rather than direct them to their sponsor’s account. At the beginning, only major accounts belonging to celebs like Kylie Jenner or Gigi Hadid will have this option, but it seems like after its initial launch more sellers will be to take advantage of the feature.

So, be prepared to have even more sneakers in your future, friends. It looks like those Instagram ads are going to get even more powerful.

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