Mark Schaefer is the Founder and Executive Director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions. A social media marketing specialist, he is also a highly renowned author, consultant, and speaker. At Digimarcon West 2015, I had the pleasure of hearing him speak on multiple topics. His presentation on content marketing was very eye opening and applicable to our daily procedures at Wpromote. I am happy to share highlights from his session for the Wpromote Blog.
Concept 1 – Humans Buy From Humans
In medieval marketplaces, you couldn’t do product research on your iPhone while browsing stores.
In large part, you had to rely on personal interaction for information. For centuries, people have marketed in a face-to-face manner. Today, even though we are in the digital age, “person to person” business remains invaluable.
As consumers, we expect complete transparency in our transactions. If someone says they’re going to do something for you, you expect certain results. We want immediacy in our transactions. If someone gives us an exact timeline on when something will happen, we want that timeline to be held. If something will delay the timeline, we want to be informed in advance. These concepts are always on the plate when dealing with clients. We must uphold all of these standards to maintain a strong word of mouth reputation. In today’s digital age of Yelp and other review sites, there are many ways that people can assess different organizations and services. However, Schaefer believes that word of mouth reputation will always be a major factor in the success of a business. If you can get a loyal customer to talk up your company at a party, you can achieve a valuable and personable review that exists on a different level from anonymous review sites.
Medieval sales techniques are not outdated. Techniques used since the beginning of time still have an impact on how sales are conducted today. People want to trust and know the people they work with. Through content, we have a huge opportunity to build trust with our clients and connect in a personal way.
B2B (business to business) is a popular term thrown around in marketing. Schaefer prefers to think of the same concept as P2P (person to person). Even when dealing with businesses, you should think of your contacts at the company as people with individual personalities and needs. The more comfortable you make your contacts feel, the more successful your partnership will be.
Concept 2 – Social Media Provides Small Interactions That Lead To Loyalty
Social media was initially created so that we could keep in touch with family and friends on a regular basis, regardless of proximity. Though it still serves this purpose, social media now is closely interlinked with branding as well. When brands got their hands on social media, they were able to create connections with users and fans at a much quicker rate than using other traditional marketing techniques. Sharing original content on a daily basis on a company page is an invaluable way to connect with a customer base. If your favorite company retweets you or responds to your Facebook post, it is highly likely that your allegiance to that brand will grow.
In the last few years, brand fanaticism has reached an all time high, with the help of social media.
Schaefer stresses that you want to make building a brand feel like being invited to a birthday party. Though you want your customer base to be as big as possible, you still want to maintain an aura of exclusivity in your one on one relationship with the customer: “You’re special! You’re invited!” As customers become more committed to your brand, you should create special engagement opportunities to further strengthen that loyalty. In and out of business, relationships need to be two-way streets. When customers show their support to you, they want to be tweeted back, liked back, etc. in return.
Content is the catalyst for everything that happens on the web. Good content leads to trust. Trust leads to loyalty. Loyalty is everything. Brand loyalty cannot be created overnight. Time and patience is important. Schaefer promotes an idea called “reliable reach,” which explains that when people have committed to your brand to a certain extent (i.e.: subscribing, following, etc.), they are also committing to your content and saying “market to me.” These people become your informal yet reliable brand ambassadors. Every business should aim to have this effect over their customers. If businesses are smart, they will start targeting their fans at a young age, if possible.
Coca Cola is the supreme king of marketing. Coca Cola has experienced so much success with its marketing strategy that it can be completely transparent with the public about its marketing techniques, which many companies refuse to do. Check out this animated film to get an inside scoop on how Coca Cola excels at connecting with their audience through their marketing strategy. In addition, take a look at Coca Cola’s recent design competition to see another way that they are ruling the brand loyalty game.
This particular example shows an exemplary level of respect and appreciation to the customer. Gustavo Alonso, the winner of the Young Designer Challenge, was able to go from fan to insider at Coca Cola by showing his artistic prowess. The fact that Coca Cola would put such trust in a fan shows how much they believe in their customer base, and also how much their customer base believes in their product.
Ultimate business goal: Make such amazing content that people will want to wear it on their shirts!
Concept 3 – Social Media Needs To Be Personal
As content marketers, we must put a focus on:
- Meaningful Content
- Targeted Connections
- Authentic Helpfulness
To put it bluntly, people are sick of being marketed to. Traditional forms of marketing such as telemarketing and snail mail marketing are falling to the wayside as attention spans dwindle in the digital age. With its quick application, social media can create meaningful connections that can open you up to personal and professional opportunities that you didn’t know existed. If you put in substantial effort to build connections, you will see the payoff in due time.
Schaefer brings this concept to life with the chart below. As seen in the chart, there is a close connection between time requirement and audience ownership when trying to build an actionable audience. For example, Twitter and Instagram require minimal time commitment, while YouTube requires the most time. If an average consumer retweets or likes a photo on a company’s website, it will most likely have a minimal effect. However, if a consumer creates a unique product video for a company and that video goes viral, the effect will be much bigger. Many of the benefits of social media marketing are qualitative not quantitative. One viral video can make all of the difference.
Concept 4 – The Information Ecosystem
Schaefer stresses the fact that social media channels should be interlinking to obtain the most power over an audience. You want to make sure that there is a cohesive strategy in place between your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. channels, to create a clear image of your brand to the consumer.
As seen in the below chart, social media channels can be prioritized differently between employees, customers, prospects, and stakeholders. If all of those groups capitalize on their social media profiles in the right way, there will be a higher likelihood of accomplishing overall business goals.
Concept 5 – Content Is Power
Content that moves creates power. In his presentation, Schaefer told the story of Robert Scoble: Scoble was once a college dropout, confused about where he should go in life. He decided to jump into the new sphere of blogging in the early 90s to share his insights on technology. Through posting regularly, he built a large loyal following online. Powerful individuals in the technology industry began to take notice, seeing that one positive mention in Scoble’s blog could propel new business. With time, Scoble became a juggernaut in the technology industry on his own merit, eventually working at Microsoft. His story shows that if you share valuable content that people want to read, you can achieve recognition in your desired field, regardless of educational background. The ability to create and share content has democratized influence. It doesn’t matter what you look like or where you live.
Unfortunately, on average, only about 2% of the online population shares content. Nevertheless, we need to have a comprehensive understanding of content to capitalize on that 2%.
In the Schaefer Marketing School, there are 3 kinds of content: hygiene, hub, and hero. Hygiene content answers questions and is everyday content that people need to know. Articles on WebMD and resource pages on websites would fit into this category. Hub content is content that you want to share. Schaeffer refers to this content as “ever green storytelling.” A funny cat video would fit into this category. Most important of all is hero content. This is shareable, while aiming for a higher level of influence over an audience. Hero content makes you feel good and makes you want to make a difference. Chipotle recently created an excellent piece of hero content, to represent their methodology behind their food. With hero content such as the Chipotle video, you can share original ideas with your audience and spark a high level of engagement.
Schaefer proposes 6 questions that you should consider when approaching content marketing strategy:
- Can you answer the question, “Only we…” (What makes you special?)
- Can our culture nurture and sustain a social media transformation?
- Are we a conversational brand? Is there potential for controversy?
- What are our competitors doing?
- What is our source of rich content?
- What does success look like for our company?
The main point that Schaefer reiterated in his presentation was the importance of being human in your marketing techniques. As marketers, too often we can get caught up in budgets and deadlines, losing sight of the fun element of our work. Schaefer has an acronym that spells out successful content: RITE. To appeal to your audience and achieve your marketing goals, create content that is relevant, interesting, timely, and entertaining.
In closing, check out this hilarious video from LG Electronics to experience powerful content that fulfills of the requirements mentioned above. You deserve a hearty chuckle and marketing inspiration!
To pick up more tips from the Schaefer School of Marketing, check out the following books written by the professor:
The Tao of Twitter
Born to Blog
Social Media Explained
ROI: Return on Influence
The Content Code