It’s funny. We always visualise that we will wind up somewhere, doing that something that we always dreamed we’d do once we finally hit some kind of adult life. Growing up on the obsession of the English language and the velocity that words have on a mass crowd, I knew I’d always end up weaving words in some kind of shape or form, as my career. Back then though, when I was running around in little, pink gumboots on my grandparents’ farm, I thought that would mean telling the world to “read all about it!” in printed newspapers, magazines and whatever else that meant words could still be touched. Now that print media is almost non-existent, it’s no wonder that the little girl in pink gumboots had to find some other means of using this passion to still have somewhat of an effect on an intended audience.
When I came to figure out that I had that kind of decision weighing on my shoulders, I was in the midst of graduating from Deakin University with a Bachelor in Journalism. Not even six months later, I discovered journalism was no longer a realistic career. It’s more of tribute to the older generations who were lucky enough to get into it before digital took over. Lucky for me, however, social media and the online revolution struck right about the time I headed into PR and communications at several agencies.
Now leading a team of content marketing specialists and copywriters at a global digital agency, I’ve come to learn that words on paper and words on a screen are all dedicated to doing the same thing; they exist to persuade, to influence, to trigger, to empower. If the words you read don’t do something for you, if they don’t encourage you to take action or do whatever that something is, then they are just bits of ink taking up white space.
In the past couple of years, I’ve learned just how incredibly dominating the content marketing space has quickly become. First there was the social media boom and already traditional business-goers were (for lack of a better word) freaking out at the demanding requirements that the field of marketing called for in order to be successful. Then came the notion that content is king–thanks to the likes of Google, who decided its algorithms needed to be based on quality, substantial content on websites. Fast forward to 2016 and content marketing is more than ever the biggest, most intimidating space in the online age. Your words matter now more than they ever have before.
It’s okay that you still haven’t decided to believe me or feel that you have the patience and knowledge to take on such a task, but sooner or later, for your business to thrive in this day and age, you’re going to have to kick-start that content game of yours.
Customers don’t spend a heap of time buying
What does this mean, exactly? Customers who are thinking about grabbing the latest iPhone (when they should be going for an Android, really) already know they want it. They probably already know that they will end up it in their hands soon enough. They’ve pretty much already convinced themselves, but its in our human nature to find a way to “tip us over the edge” and take that actual action. Content that amplifies this purpose and feeds this urge to buy ends up as the trigger point. It may be that they’ve done some Googling on what colour iPhone to get, or why a particular storage volume is the best to go for; either way, they’ve done the research and the sources that have delivered the answers to their questions are playing the content marketing game right. Those sources may also be resellers of the iPhone and end up with a new customer who has just been persuaded to click through to the checkout. Ca-ching. The point of this analogy so that the buyer knows what they want when they head online to research it. It’s how online businesses choose to take advantage of this knowledge and urge that really matters. That’s where powerful, strategic (yet subtle) content comes into play.
Your audience is not a mass of screens–they’re people too
The biggest mistake I see in this industry is the assumption and forgotten fact that every single audience to every single business in this world, is made up of people; people with wants and needs, people with real problems and people that also have businesses themselves. Every single one of us is influenced by media in some way, shape or form. A lot of the time, these streams of media are unsuccessful in their task to convince us to do what they want, but sometimes they hit the nail on the head. Why? Because they don’t forget to turn on the humanisation and take advantage of the tact that the audience is realistically just a bunch of people who are looking for an answer to their question. That takes personality, using language that is emotive and able to relate to the customer, playing into strategies that embrace everyday human life, and not some extreme form of reality that is ultimately too foreign. If all this confuses you, I recommend you sit down in front of Netflix and have a marathon of Mad Men–these guys dominated the Madison Avenue era because they got people.
Above everything, content adds value
If you were locked in a room and forced to read a catalogue made up entirely of photos of a vehicle that’s new to the market, and also forced to read a catalogue made up of both photos and text for another new vehicle that’s about to hit the market, which would you more inclined to buy after leaving the room? Probably the latter. Content plays a huge role in the way we apply context, the way we find answers to our questions and the overriding fact that we really just need a peace of mind when we’re off buying something. A big investment, like purchasing a car, usually means we need more information about what it is that we’re purchasing. The car with a brochure full of images will play up nicely in our heads when it comes to aesthetics, but we have no idea what it does, how it runs or what kind of fuel efficiency it has. Let’s twist this story slightly though, to see how content would push us away from the text-based catalogue, towards the visual-based one. If the second catalogue told us the car was probably not the most fuel efficient thing on the market, and that it doesn’t have power steering (for whatever odd reason), we’d actually end up looking back towards the first car, even if we still don’t know a lot about it. Moral of the story is, words can change everything. It can add value, take it away from something else or it can shift our existing perspective entirely.
Your words spark action. They’re infectious–what are you telling the world?