Not long ago, I mentioned that content is still king. It’s true. In fact, it’s never been more true. The simple reality is that we’re all publishers now. Consumers depend on a vast array of content when making their purchase decisions, including:
- Product content, both text and visual that shows your products and services in use
- Pricing content, which includes your announced pricing and also information they can glean from search and social
- Social content, such as formal ratings and reviews as well as content their friends and family like and share on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, and on and on and on…
Customers demand this content and will accept it from any source. Ideally, you. We live in an age of radical transparency, one where your customers know more about your products and services than your employees do. After all, they have more incentive to know. When it works in your favor, that’s a Good Thing™. When not, it can lead to serious problems for your business.
Alexis Ohanian, one of the founders of Reddit, refers to the Internet as “the world’s largest stage and library in one,” which is awesome. Because as the world’s largest library, your customers have access to a near-infinite variety of content about any and every topic imaginable. And as the world’s largest stage, you have access to a near-unlimited audience for your content. Potentially.
The world’s largest library and stage have emerged at the same time as — and in many cases caused — a massive decline in the cost of content creation and the cost of content distribution. Both of those are beneficial to your business. You can create content for next to nothing and put it in front of a (theoretically) unlimited audience for even less.
The downside of this trend is that you’re competing with everyone to get your content in front of that theoretically unlimited audience. When the cost to create and distribute content is essentially free, anyone can. And, frequently, they do. While that benefits society with such amazing creations as Wikipedia, YouTube, and podcasts, it also means you’re fighting to have your content cut through a deluge of alternative options available to your customers.
So, it’s not enough to have content. Your content must be useful. It’s got to be helpful and convenient for your audience or risk getting buried beneath the many, many, many other options available to customers.
One of the best ways to provide useful content is to make that content snackable, shareable, and sharp. We’ve talked about what those mean before:
- “Snackable. Snackable content is easily digestible. Consumers and customers can easily see what you’re talking about and easily understand it. It requires you to chunk your content into “bite-sized” pieces using lists, headings, images, and (increasingly) videos that your potential guests can review where, when, and how they choose without investing huge chunks of their time.
- Shareable. Shareable content does exactly what it says: It’s easy to share. This includes concepts such as making your headlines no longer than 140 characters (so they’ll fit in a Tweet); including images well-suited to Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest; and actually placing social sharing buttons on your page near the content you want your potential guests to share.
- Sharp. Sharp content is content that makes its point. It focuses on one clear objective per paragraph or section, so that guests don’t have to rummage around your page—or, God help you—your site to find what they’re looking for.”
And we’ve even got a handy diagram of what that looks like:
Content marketing offers businesses large and small plenty of opportunity to connect with customers, answer their questions, and drive purchase decisions. But only if you can cut through the clutter. To do that, you must offer useful content, that’s helps your customers and works in a snackable, shareable, and sharp fashion. We’re all publishers now, that’s a fact. And now it’s up to you to publish content worth your customers time.
If you want learn even more about how your customers’ changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing, be sure and register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.
You can also check out these slides and video from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year”:
(And, yes… you can hire me to speak at your next event, too).
And, if you’re looking for still more insights and information to guide your marketing this year, check out some of the best of Thinks here: