“The public is composed of numerous groups whose cry to us writers is: ‘Comfort me.’ ‘Amuse me.’ ‘Touch my sympathies.’ ‘Make me sad.’ ‘Make me dream.’ ‘Make me laugh.’ ‘Make me shiver.’ ‘Make me weep.’ ‘Make me think.’”
– Guy de Maupassant
Content marketing, a term to describe how best to connect with our modern target audiences via content creation is a component of inbound marketing. Ironically, it cannot be better summed up than through the words of Guy de Maupassant, a 19th century French writer. Perhaps this goes to prove that there is a timeless element to communication, no matter what platform we’re using. How we communicate may change, but the relationship between what we say and how that makes someone feel is constant and sublimely human.
Marketing and all that falls under that umbrella — web design, branding, social media, photos, videos, copywriting, even down to typography — is intended to communicate a specific message for a specific purpose. It’s effectiveness is in its ability to evoke some from you: first a feeling, then a reaction. It’s all about cause and effect.
Imagine selling (or buying!) swimwear. A photo or video of a model standing like a mannequin wearing the garment isn’t going to capture attention and convert to a sale with near the success that telling a visual story that incorporates the garment into fun, sun, friends, laughter, or a romantic tropical getaway would. Your shoppers are substantially more likely to make a purchase if they can picture themselves in the story you told them than if they have to dream up a story themselves. Most won’t automatically do that when casually browsing, so you’ve missed an opportunity. “Make me dream.”
Take the normal, human reaction to a great story then work to amplify it. If you’re in the nonprofit sector, you really have to shoot straight for the heart — not only for the best conversions but for donor retention, too. In this sector, people aren’t usually making a purchase to fill a particular want or need in their lives. They are opening their wallets to be part of a goal, to do good, to be involved in something that stirred compassion or interest on some level. Maybe it was for homeless, sad, lonely little puppies who gazed straight into the camera lens…no, their eyes. Maybe it was to save the environment or to improve education. But now you have to keep the story going, evolving, involving them so they come back and support the cause again. “Touch my sympathies.”
Your carefully constructed content made people feel happy, hopeful, empathetic, or provided value that earned their feelings of trust. They bought your product, made a reservation, or signed up for your email marketing list. Guess what. Now you have some important information at your fingertips. Keep the conversation going by involving your audience in your next move. Surveys, reviews, demographic data, etc. Use the information you can gather from these people to learn what worked and what didn’t, why, and where.
Technology is driving change faster than ever before, and though the objective of content marketing is pretty timeless, the other vehicles of marketing have to stay ahead of the curve. Use the information at your fingertips to constantly tweak and improve.