I spent last Thursday and Friday in Coralville, Iowa, attending the second Social Brand Forum hosted by Nick Westergaard and his company, Brand Driven Digital. The event featured several top minds in the digital marketing industry presenting in a cozy atmosphere with high audience engagement and ample opportunity for one-on-one face time with the marketing savants.
As a content marketing writer for Brandpoint I was excited to witness some of the industry’s top influencers and learn from their insights to better my thought process while creating content. The main takeaway from the two-day conference, for me, was the need for content to be helpful, informative and relevant to the customer when and where they need it.
Jay Baer, a New York Times best-selling author and president of the marketing consultancy Convince and Convert, kicked off the forum with a compelling presentation surrounding his new book “Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is about Help Not Hype.” This was a fitting introduction to the conference as the majority of speakers echoed Baer’s belief in the need to create “marketing that is so useful, people would pay for it.”
Baer explained that companies are no longer competing solely against the competition, they are doing battle with everyone – major corporations and small businesses alike are jockeying for attention online with your best friends or family members. Seldom will they win when pitted against your friends’ recent travel photos or a compilation of the best Internet “fail” videos.
Referencing Google’s Zero Moment of Truth study Baer stated three ways to start producing content that’s helpful and hype-free:
- Self-serve information: The Google study revealed that customers, on average, consumed content from 5.3 sources in 2010 – that number nearly doubled to 10.4 in 2011. Consumers are more willing to search around for helpful information and if you don’t have it, someone else will.
- Radical transparency: Gaining customers is about building trust and useful content is one of the best trust-building tools available. When I heard Baer talk about transparency, a recent news story came to mind. Two weeks ago the South Park creators missed an airtime deadline for the first time in the show’s 17-season, 241-episode history. South Park studios suffered a power outage Tuesday night before the scheduled Wednesday release. Instead of avoiding the issue the guys at South Park addressed it head-on, posting night-vision pictures of the crew waiting out the power outage in the office and scheduling a live-tweet of the previous week’s episode with show creators Matt Parker and Trey Stone.
- Real-time relevancy: In addition to relevancy being seasonal – posting a blog about winterizing your car is relevant now opposed to in July – it also has to help the consumer at the specific snapshot in time. This leads you to asking questions like where do my customers discover information? How do they choose to consume content? And what motivates them to act?
The final presentation was masterfully done by Marcus Sheridan, founder of The Sales Lion and author of the free eBook “Inbound and Content Marketing Made Easy”. Sheridan used the simple idea of answering his customers’ questions through the power of honest, insightful content and turned his swimming pool company website into the world’s most trafficked swimming pool site delivering more qualified leads and increased sales.
Sheridan preached of success stories like his own coining those who truly embody his philosophy as the “Digital Davids” displaying quick and nimble assistance to customers at a moment’s notice all in efforts to topple global online Goliaths. The main message of Sheridan’s passionate involved the practice of “they ask, you answer.” He believes far too much attention is placed on the bad fits and industry competition. The customer has the most important insight and immediate needs to address – the customer may not always be right but you, as a business, have the resources to give them the information they desire.
Brandpoint’s staff can implement much of what was discussed throughout the conference. Our content marketing team comprises talented writers with years of experience in several industries, passionate strategists waiting to sink their teeth into your website analytics and develop a plan of attack and organized account managers ready to answer any and all of your questions. Learn more about how our content marketing service can help your company satisfy increasing customer needs through helpful content.