Consumer-driven-content-marketingWe all know the balance of power has shifted from the advertiser to the consumer, right?

If you don’t know, you haven’t been paying attention for the last few years.

A Cisco Technology report from January 2013, quotes Laura Wade-Gery, Executive Director E-Commerce Multi-channel, Marks & Spencer: “Customers are firmly in the driving seat in today’s rapidly changing retail landscape; with more choice and information at their fingertips than ever before. As retailers, we have to change with them and ensure we’re offering a more personalized, inspirational shopping experience which fits in with their busy lifestyles.”

Today’s consumers have taken over the reins of advertising by proactively seeking what they want, when they want it, and from whom they want it.  No longer do consumers have to wait for the next sales catalogue or newspaper ad. Social media and online search options have literally opened up the world as a really, really big shopping mall and competition is now of global proportion. So how does any brand evolve from old-school selling techniques to planning and creating content that puts consumers first?

Enter content marketing.

Content marketing, by its very nature, has the understanding that content is created for specific targeted audiences, focused on the unique interests and needs of each group in order to drive customer action. Content marketing is about defining your audience/s and talking directly to them where they are online, building relationships through engagement, and motivating them to action. Therefore, instituting a content marketing strategy with a consumer-centric focus will make the necessary jump from advertiser-driven to consumer-driven.

Although a content marketing strategy is made up of many steps, (Goals, Strategy, Calendar, Produce, Publish, Engage and Measure), Step 2, Strategy, is what we are examining here: defining your target audience/s and determining what kinds of content you will create to reach your target market.

Surveying your existing customers will provide a profile of who they are. A survey or poll could be an email campaign or a link on your website. Ask them where they spend time online (Facebook, Twitter, shopping, research…), what keywords they use in online searches to find you (or your competition), and what questions they have or problems they are seeking to resolve. Additionally, ask people within your organization who have customer contact what issues come up. Does the Sales Department hear certain questions over and over again? Does Customer Service have recurring problems with services or actual product failures? Do customers give you lots of praise; what do they like best about your company? All of this information will help shape your content creation, and actively listening to your consumer base will make you a more successful company as you get right to the heart of what they like, what they want, as well as what they don’t want or like.

Once you clearly know who your audience is, you can define content categories or topics directly tied to the interests and needs expressed to create targeted, consumer-driven content.

  • Anticipate client questions and publish the answers online
  • Promote values/benefits of your offering or product
  • Share testimonials
  • Describe specific product or service characteristics
  • Post “How to” videos or blog posts on relevant subjects
  • Give an inside look at the company, highlighting people and processes
  • Talk about industry trends, happenings, observations
  • Share community events, involvement

Always keep in mind you are writing for people, real live, social people. Make your content interesting, relevant and human—touch on emotions whenever you can.  Align your content marketing with the expressed needs and interests of your customers, meet those needs for information, knowledge, or entertainment, (and superb products or services), and they will stay loyal and tell their friends.

Quite a few years ago Faberge Organic Shampoo ran a TV ad with a “tell two friends” tag line. The model with beautiful, shiny hair told two friends, and they told two friends, who also told two friends, and so on, until the TV screen was covered with dozens of . . . new customers!  With Facebook friends, Twitter followers, Pinterest pins, etc., hundreds of people can be informed about you in seconds by a happy, satisfied customer.

Take advantage of consumer-driven content marketing and let your customers help you sell by being fully engaged online.

Join the Conversation:

  • Have you clearly defined your target audience(s)—do you know your customers?
  • How would a planned, consumer-centric content marketing strategy improve your online effectiveness?
  • How can you improve your content to encourage your clients to “tell two friends?”