10 May 2016
Brands shouldn't focus on themselves

Why Your Brand Needs To Stop Talking About Itself

Your customers are overwhelmed with content, no matter what industry you’re in. When they walk down the street, turn on the TV, get on a bus or scroll through their Facebook feed, people are targeted with relentless brand messaging. Marketing is now inescapable, because everyone is carrying their mobile phones with them at all times. Customers are starting to block the messaging that doesn’t matter to them and businesses are desperately vying for attention.

Despite this, many brands still only use old-school marketing tactics that focus on their products. No one wants to be cornered at a party by someone that drones on and on about themselves – and your brand is no exception. Think about the type of content your customers actually want to consume. Is it all about you, or is it focused on their preferences and challenges? With a customer-first mentality, your audience will start to see your business as more than just another brand in a sea of logos. You can become a trusted advisor, a source of entertainment or a thought leader.

So how can you start putting this into action?

Share Curated Content

Many brands have forgotten the ‘social’ element of social media. Social networks can be useful channels for distributing brand content, but they’re also great places to tell a story, share insights and start conversations. Develop a ratio for how much of your own content you’ll share compared to curated content from elsewhere. A good starting point is 3:1 – for everything you post about your brand on social media, share three other relevant pieces of content from other brands or publishers. This helps to extend your reach and position your brand as industry relevant. Remember to actually interact with customers on social media too. This could involve replying to questions, re-sharing posts or developing user-generated content.

Get  Creative With Data

Almost every company collects data of some kind, whether it’s gleaned from your customer database or your business platforms. This is great fodder for content because you can develop interesting material without just talking about how great you are (or even mentioning your products). For example, marketing businesses Hubspot and Buffer both share a heap of insights from their own social media, email marketing and blogging endeavours. This type of content is highly relevant for their audience of fellow marketers, and it helps to position them as experts in the field. You might also collect data on how people use your own services or technology, which can be interesting for both potential and existing customers. Take Facebook as an example. The platform uses its own research to pull together fascinating insights on everything from how blind people interact with visual content to how people use laughter in online messages.

Educate And Entertain

Selling a product in the crowded digital landscape is a challenge. Customers don’t want their online journey to be interrupted by ads or thinly veiled sales pitches. They’re looking through carefully curated feeds for content that entertains and informs, or they’re searching for answers to specific questions. Take a cue from General Electric, who has built a huge online presence by developing all sorts of non-sales content. From informative reports about amazing uses of technology to Pinterest boards about ‘Badass Machines’ and sponsoring young inventors on Jimmy Fallon, the company taps into a huge range of audience groups looking for different types of content. Despite this, the content is always on-brand – GE’s overall strategy is consistently grounded in the brand’s passion and expertise in the technology industry.

Next Steps

The changing landscape doesn’t mean you should never talk about your work or share news about the business. It does mean that you need to be aware of different contexts for your marketing content, so you can engage people who have never heard of you as well as those that are ready to buy. Apply some cocktail party etiquette to your brand and stop talking about yourself at every opportunity. Identify situations where you can share interesting insights, ask relevant questions and build trust. It’s the only way to stand out from the hordes of brands jostling for customer attention online.

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