February 23, 2016

'Please Clap': If You Have to Ask �

Things couldn’t have gone any worse for Jeb Bush on this particular day in his race for the White House: A message that he had hoped would ignite nationalistic fervor among the crowd at a Hanover, New Hampshire, rally instead seemed to fall on deaf ears.

Bush was forced to ask his audience to applaud his stump speech. “Please clap,” he beseeched the crowd Feb 3rd after delivering this line: “I think the next president needs to be a lot quieter but send a signal that we’re prepared to act in the national security interests of this country to get back in the business of creating a more peaceful world.”

This lead one CNN correspondent to comment: “This campaign’s got everything besides a candidate that can connect with voters.” 

Connecting with your constituency—otherwise known as your customers—has been the holy grail for marketers since the dawn of marketing. As you know, lukewarm reception of your marketing message might spell disaster for your brand—just as it did for Bush’s: The former Florida governor dropped out of the presidential race Feb. 20.

So, what are some of the primary strategies leading marketers use to keep their brand messages on point, i.e., resonating with consumers? Read on to learn how you can keep your key targets clapping when your brand speaks:

Empathize with your readers: Get at the heart of a customer problem and tell a story about it that builds rapport with your brand. Start by speaking as a human with passion and empathy; don’t try to be something you’re not. Your perfect answer to their problem should be so compelling that it will make them want to share the connection it brings. Focus on delivering useful content, not your brand message. In deciding what you want to create, consider what your key personas want to accomplish as they interact with your brand. For example, the Bush vignette above ought to resonate with marketers who are afraid their content is missing the mark with potential and existing customers. And this list of pointers on how to craft compelling content can help them progress in their personal journey to be the best marketers possible.

Map your content: After all, content is one of your products, so it needs to be strategized. Start by outlining its ultimate purpose—the business reason for creating the content (e.g., brand awareness, lead generation/nurturing and developing customer loyalty). Then you need to find that sweet spot where your business’s goals intersect with your audience’s real interests. What is the common path that brings you together? That is, do you understand your customers’ pain and pleasure points? Deliver your content for every step customers take along the path—but only when needed. This will require your brand to develop a content vision that incorporates the data, technology and staff to bring the vision to life—and sustain it. Make sure your plan involves giving your key targets something they can’t find anywhere else. And keep in mind that you must measure your results to know if your campaign was a success.

Connect with people’s emotions: Think of your brand in terms of moments in your customers’ lives. Consider the touch points when your brand made a special appearance in their homes or communities. For example, maybe a young athlete was wearing your brand’s clothing when he made the winning touchdown for his high school team? Or perhaps a new mom relied on your brand’s non-spill cup when she wanted to get her baby off the bottle. Use compelling events to illustrate your brand’s mission, vs. promoting your specific products. Be compelling by using an authentic voice that allows you to connect with the listener. Draw in your audience like a classic novel would do: begin with a problem, raise suspense with a twist, and finally end on a positive note with a tip to your business’s major message or idea.

With content that incorporates all these suggestions, you will motivate your key targets to take action and to come back to your brand the next time they have a similar problem. If you need help producing this high level of content, consider investing in the services of a content strategy vendor.

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