Trouble: That's what most businesses are in these days because of declining sales and eroding brands. Twenty-first century challenges have left marketing departments wondering what the fix is or where their solution lies.
Providing value is nothing new. However, today's economic conditions and the rapid rise of a more finicky consumer has the buzzword of the day, content, in the mainstream marketing conversation. Providing valuable content to your "fence-line" customers can turn the most cynical of the bunch into avid fans. When done correctly, content creates two very powerful consumer acquisition tools: one being value and the other being storytelling.
Successful politicians have been using storytelling for ages because of one simple fact: it works. From the beginning of time, influence and power have been wielded by those who are effective storytellers and in turn, the more effective persuaders. Netflix's breakout hit House of Cards showcases this type of unsurpassed persuasion in the form of Kevin Spacey's brilliantly acted character, Vice President Francis Underwood.
While conniving, dark, infinitely sadistic, and twisted, Francis understands that the skill of storytelling and persuasion is his top weapon because those who use persuasion best, win.
It's simple really.
And all you Apple fans out there, don't think for one second that Steve Jobs didn't understand this. He was a master of consumer persuasion. His keynotes were a thing of legend because of what Nancy Duarte explains in her excellent Ted Talk. She describes conveying the psychological conflict between our greatest challenges and the solutions that solve those challenges.
Jobs had a knack for conveying this conflict to us. Through his place of authority, he convinced us we needed a Mac. Did we really need a $1,200 computer? No, probably not.
But Jobs made us realize if we waded out into the future world without a Mac, iPhone or an iPad, we would not be whole. You would not be part of something special.
What Steve Jobs wanted was undying devotion. And he got it.
Jobs made us also believe in the big idea. "A 1,000 songs in your pocket" was revolutionary. A device with "Internet, phone and music" combined into one was revolutionary.
Storytelling and providing content through the vessel of the big idea can be a game changer for companies. How often does finding the big idea, or the big catch phrase, happen? Not often. But this article is more about the pursuit of the solution to challenging business problems. The constant pursuit of a big idea can change a company's trajectory forever.
This is where storytelling and content enter back into the picture. Let's face it; marketing and advertising have changed. Content creation and dispensing that content effectively can also be a valuable tool to help your business in two additional ways.
Generating Leads & Demand
Lead generation is defined as collecting information from prospective customers. Valuable content generates demand by telling your story effectively and thus creating a tipping point for your potential consumers.
Providing your story through value-added content is perhaps the only remaining marketing tactic you can execute today in order to create leads or demand without feeling sleazy or cheap. Because, after all, you are providing something in return, not just asking for money.
Research shows our brains are skeptical of what we don't understand, but once we understand something, or its story, we can more easily identify with the brand or person telling us the story. Content and storytelling can also identify the most important audiences for you and may provide a much-needed wake up call for your business, which may have been focusing on the wrong audiences. (P.S. You can capture these audiences by developing a kick-butt lead capture form, through any email service provider or great tools like LeadPages.)
That's why quality content is so important, because it attracts exactly whom you want to attract instead of cheap, gimmicky advertising that can attract, well, everyone. And that's never a good thing.
Develop quality content and distribute it with vigor and the right audiences will migrate (sometimes slower than you want) to your site and soak up the goods.
And if they keep coming back, time after time, we can call them the starving audience.
Infamous copywriter Gary Halbert once wrote:
"The most profitable habit you can cultivate is the habit of constantly being on the lookout for groups of people (markets) who have demonstrated that they are starving (or, at least hungry) for some particular product or service."
Discovering and nurturing the starving audience through content delivery can be yet another way to catapult your business from the basement back to an abundance.
Start creating valuable content today. Tell your story well, and let it create leads and demand. And hopefully this time next year you are seeing a more profitable P&L report than the one you are currently staring the barrel of.