Gary Vaynerchuk once suggested every company needs to become a media company, creating valuable content customers can enjoy and interact with.
And he’d be right.
A recent Vanderbilt University study found that people had more positive reactions to advertisements that were told as stories than those who used facts and arguments.
Which is why native advertising such as sponsored ads, promoted posts, advertorial style or product placements have begun to take over from standard advertising tactics.
So why does storytelling resonate so much better with consumers brains than facts?
Because when you tell a story you create emotion and engage multiple parts of the brain, one of which is the Amygdala and it uses memory and emotion to make purchase decisions.
Whereas, when you state facts and figures you engage a narrower part of the brain, often generating more questions than answers and disengaging any emotional engagement, potentially leading to negative feelings of discomfort and doubt.
Although good marketers are moving with the times and creating ads that tell rather than sell, creative copywriter Kate Toon worries that most businesses who generate their own content are “thinking too hard about how to get their message across, how to sell their products and how to show case their services” than how to engage.
Surveys of content marketing agencies indicate that even native advertising gets less engagement than editorial content, and that’s a lesson Kate want’s to encourage SME’s and business owners to learn when they consider content marketing.
She suggests they need to “focus more on their customers questions, concerns, fears and worries” than on producing endless offers, sales and promotional posts.
The risk is that businesses write a short piece of useful content and then slap a sales message on the end, thinking they are using a content marketing strategy. Instead they disengage the prospects brain and erode any trust in their brand.
Her major piece of advice when it comes to creating content is to “help first, sell later”.
Focus on building a relationship where your brand becomes the trusted source of valuable information, tips and insight before you offer your services.
It’s the same old story, never ask a girl to marry you on the first date.
A formula to help you understand and utilise content marketing to ensure you are telling, not selling, is the 30/30/30/10 rule:
30% About you
30% News from your industry
30% Information, tips, tools etc
10% Inspiration or fun
Yes that’s right folks, only 30% of the content you create is about you, your company, case studies, testimonials, offers, sales or events.
Not 100%, not even 50%.
Mostly you should be sharing news from your industry, which is easy when you set up a google alert to get articles sent to your inbox for free, and it indicates you are at the leading edge, a trusted, knowledgable source of advice.
A major part of your marketing should also be creating information products in the form of downloadable PDF’s, e-books, podcasts etc which not only reinforce your status as the go-to specialist, incredibly generous and keen to help, it also adds to your database of interested prospects.
So what’s the first thing you need to do to have more engagement with effective online marketing?
With almost 20 years experience producing content for leading brands including Marks & Spencer, American Express, IBM, Microsoft, Telstra and Qantas, Kate Toon suggest you “find ways to spy on your customers”.
She says “your brand is being spoken about somewhere, take control of the conversation and give them answers.”
Be prepared to spend time and effort on being engaged in the conversation to become the generous expert, with a finger on the pulse, who offers valuable advice when it’s most needed.
And avoid blatant promotional content or branded editorial and get real with what you post.
When it comes to creating powerful content to captivate your ideal prospect, going naked is better than going native.
When creating powerful content to captivate your ideal prospect, going naked is better than going native.