Everyone’s talking about content as a way to reach customers, and with good reason. Through relevant, valuable and timely content you build trust with potential customers while cementing the relationships you’ve already formed. The goal is to become a go-to resource. But great content doesn’t just happen. It takes some work (but who says it can’t be fun?) Here are my six hot tips on building your own brand content channel.
1). Find a good story-teller. Have you ever listened to a story from a family member that goes on and on and on? Well, yeah, that happens, and you try to be the good listener by siting through it and figuring out what the point is. But have you ever heard someone tell you a really colorful story — like a really funny story — that makes you laugh, something really unique? You find that you’re engaged with the teller, and it’s a story you won’t soon forget. What’s your story? Who are you? What is it that makes you special?
Bangles and Bags is a women’s “Fabulous for Less” accessories store where everything is under fifty dollars. I helped create an ad campaign for the owner that wasn’t, let’s say “cheeky,” but was definitely pushing the Americanized superficial beauty envelope by using her own employees and owners as models. Audiences and shoppers were able to connect with her brand story through the fabulous personalities that create the shopper experience. That’s what tells a good brand story. It’s original.
Her brand story is about the women behind Bangles and Bags that get dressed up and accessorized, and they love it! Tell a good story about your business. And be sure to tell your story in a way that’s relevant to your readers. No one likes a bore who just goes on and on about themselves.
2). Hire an amazing photographer. Images are everything; everything is visual. You have to have good images. Think of a web page that’s filled with just copy —a page full of words and no pictures. Then think of a web page that has pictures throughout the copy to illustrate different points. Which would you prefer? Which page would you spend more time with? That’s why people are drawn to PowerPoint presentations. They are visual, and they tell stories in a way that people can understand them. Find someone on your team who is graphically inclined and has a complete mastering of procuring photos and perfecting web graphics to match the look and feel of your story. Come up with a way to tell your story visually, something that keeps people interested and makes people want to hear more of your story.
3). I checked with Andrew Davis, and he said it would be alright if I shared this point of wisdom: "Make a date with your audience and then deliver on it." It’s really important that you create a weekly program or schedule and tell people what they are going to get from you, and when they are going to get it. People don’t like it when they follow something new and then don’t get anything from that brand, or when the brand posts eighteen hundred photos in a row on Instagram—that’s annoying. You get un-followed for that. So you really need to look at a program that can be upheld and fulfilled by your team. Do you have the bandwidth to do multiple content channels, or maybe you can start with one, two or three? Maybe you can start with one person being in charge of your own Instagram or Facebook and posting once a day at a specific time. If you can handle that, then add another channel, another appointment to your program. Be sure the person you place in charge understands they are in charge of running a regular marketing program and rounding up all the important dates for your calendar. Your social media, web updates, product rollouts, sales, specials, holidays — all of it — put it all on your calendar and plan out your content accordingly so that you deliver on your promise to your audience.
4).If you don’t know how to use software, LEARN. Everything (and I mean everything) can be done online. You can pretty much run an entire organization from anywhere in the world with a MacBook Air or Surface Pro 3 (which is how I’m publishing this article btw). There are so many different platforms you can use from Adobe Creative Suite, which is a great place to start if you are interested in graphics, to PowerPoint or Keynote for presentations, to accounting software that helps you handle payroll like Intuit, fulfillment, shipping, ecommerce. Get yourself a broadband connection, a versatile computer and start managing your business by learning. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is really important if you deal with a large volume of customers. Create records and stories around your buyers to illustrate buyer profiles.
If your business is built on selling advertising, events, or more intangible creative services, AdSalesGenius.com is a great example of how start-to-finish you can build a relationship with your customer, nurture that customer, build easy-to-understand proposals, Plus, you can sign right on your iPad in person or via electronic signatures through email.
5).Use community engagement as a tool for local guerrilla marketing opportunities. One of the reasons Bangles and Bags became so successful so quickly at their fourth location in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward, is because the owner, Jeanette Dvorak picked an amazing retail space. Yes, she paid a premium, but she got onto the main shopping street. It was very intentional, but then she maximized that opportunity by getting involved with the Third Ward merchant association. In fact, that’s how she and I met. I was delivering a presentation to the group on claiming your Google listing yourself and verifying your correct phone number and URL, and she asked, “Do you guys do websites, too?” “Sure do,” I said. Well, it was love at first site, and that’s how FeelFabulousForLess.com was created. That was a way for her to connect with her community, and she’s actually now the leader of the merchant’s association for the Third Ward shopping district. Your neighbors always have your back and will send business your way. Oftentimes, if you stop by Bangles & Bags to do a bit of shopping, her associates will give you pointers on a few other places to stop in the Third Ward. Sharing your audience with other businesses is a great community strategy. It’s a fantastic way to engage with your neighboring businesses. It’s crucial to have a community engagement strategy, and it is really worth your time (even though sometimes those meetings can be so early and be a bit boring!).
6). And my favorite, don’t be afraid to ask when the time is right! What’s the worst that can happen? When I was younger, my parents were pretty strict about my schedule, so I would always warm up the sale of me going to the next cool place I wanted to go by saying, “Wondering, thinking, seriously pondering.” (Photo caption: me circa 1995 already making a plan on paper) It was a fun way to get them ready for me to ask them for their approval. We spend so much time thinking about what’s going to happen with the sale, you can’t be afraid for the right moment. Right when you have the attention of the key decision makers is when it’s time to ask for the YES, time to ask for the commitment. Don’t be afraid of asking for big numbers, because big numbers mean big sales! Confidently, respectfully, knowledgeably ask for that commitment to your content program. Ask in a way that can be well understood.
Don’t forget, all this fabulous content you’re creating is for your customer or prospect. Be sure to keep their needs in mind. Don’t make it about you – make it about them. When you successfully do that, the sales come naturally. For in person illustrations, examples, discussions and sales tips, trends and takeaways, attend this year’s Ignite Business Conference.
P.S. Ryan Dorhn is going to be at the conference, and he’s a genius. Literally I get at least ten new ideas on how to streamline my sales opportunities every time I’m around him. He jam-packs his sessions with great ideas that you can start implementing immediately. He helps you think about a plan for your sales strategies and how you can get to the yes sooner on your calls.