The marketing world is barreling into another creative crossroads as the rise of visual technology and social publishing continues. No longer do brands control their own story… users have been given a platform and are making their voices heard loud and clear. Never has it been so important to know your brand story, key differentiators, and to compellingly articulate what makes your brand worth celebrating.

A quick snapshot of how to embrace the current trends while setting up for the future:

 

5

VISUAL

Your creative strategy should already account for visual story telling (photo, video, graphics, etc.). That trend will likely continue via technology like Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and experiential channels. Think about how you can make a more sensory-rich experience for your user while staying true to your story.

 

monkey cellMOBILE

If you aren’t mobile-ready, you’ve already lost 60% of your audience. Simple user experience and user interface, optimized content, and small-screen viewing becomes a key player in what content gets attention and what content gets bounced. Keep in mind that not all content is suited for mobile and at some points in your user’s journey, they need a larger screen for parsing through options or using a complex tool you’ve provided.
CHANNEL

Distribution has shifted from a brand-controlled hub and spoke model to a user-controlled share model. In order to be seen, push your content to channels where your customer already spends time. Keep your format, topic and tone relevant to that medium. Users typically spend time on 5 apps or less with Facebook and Google currently leading the charge.

Use earned9 rather than owned as your guiding success metric.

UGC

Be ready to relinquish control of the marketing wheel. User Generated Content (UGC) needs to be a big consideration in how you market your brand and product story. You never know when a user is going to pick up your story and throw it into the threshing floor of public opinion, so plan for that contingency and make sure your story holds up under pressure. (Company transparency and treating brand experience holistically helps a lot with this one.)

 

micro-momentHUMAN CENTERED

Now more than ever, we are moving to a human-centered marketing practice. UBUNTU  is an excellent example of a brand focused on a human message. Their mission is economic empowerment and social impact, but they never lose sight of the humans involved.

No longer B2B, B2C and B2P… we are all person-to-person (P2P) thanks to social media and audience expectations to be valued as a customer.

Four pillars to guide an human-centered approach:

  • Know your customer’s entire decision making journey including micro-moments, decision psychology, and how your competition enters the picture.
  • Have keen segment insights that transcend the age/gender/income stereotyping.
  • Cast your user as the hero of your story. Everyone wants to hear a great story told about themselves and connect with others when they feel like they are “tribe.” So, become one of your people’s people by weaving your story with their own.
  • Always provide value. Transactional content has it’s time and place, and is often critical to making an informed decision. That being said, it’ll generate the most traction when your customer asks for it.

Content marketing is really just a way to have a conversation. A good comparison is knowing what kind of guest you are when invited to a dinner party. If your product or brand has become the loud-mouth dinner guest who dominates the room by talking about itself all the time or your advertising is the annoying interrupter type, you’re likely to be not only ignored but also uninvited to the next party. Keep up your side of the conversation by being helpful, interesting, inspiring, insightful, and entertaining.

In short, delight your customer and they are likely to delight you right back.