Category: Strategy

Using Content to Attract and Retain Talent

Using Content to Attract and Retain Talent

One of the biggest challenges for businesses today is attracting and retaining talent.  With the competition to attract employees being so fierce, are brands using every tool available to them?  With the tight labor market, prospective employees are, in effect, on a buying journey – and serving up relevant content at every stage of that journey can help employers gain an edge.

 

Map the journey

In other posts on this blog we have discussed how engaging and educational content can build relationships with customers along their entire buying journey. Adopting similar strategies can equally build relationships with potential quality hires. Just as it’s important to define your brand and your unique value proposition for your customers, it’s vital to do this for potential recruits.  You have to define your brand for employees as much as you do for your customers. And then you tell your brand story with vitality and authenticity.

But how can brands tell these stories in ways that resonate? First, understand your audiences. Whether they are recent graduates, mid-level managers, or senior executives investigate what they are looking for, what motivates them, what will attract their attention, and what will encourage them to take action in considering your firm over others. You may also want to think about developing candidate personas and creating messaging appropriate not just for the level of seniority but for the personalities you’re seeking to attract.

 

Find your audience where they are

As you begin to answer these questions, apply methods and lessons already learned from the way you communicate with your customers. You already know that a “Field of Dreams” approach won’t work––you can’t simply build something and have them come to you. You need to have conversations where your potential employees are.

 

Start using social media platforms appropriately to demonstrate what your brand’s principles mean for the people who work at your company. And, as often as possible, start real and constructive conversations, using these platforms to invite discussion and dialogue. Social listening tools can also help you truly understand people’s perceptions of your brand. That information can be invaluable in either playing to your strengths or proactively addressing misconceptions and concerns among potential recruits.

 

Match your message to the right platforms

Travel, food and Instagram go together so well; and Marriott Hotels and Resorts have done a great job in leveraging this platform for its recruitment efforts. It’s used it to publish photos of their employees, share employee insights, and emphasize why Marriott appreciates them as a part of a team. And, because Marriott knows that corporate social responsibility is important to potential candidates, many of the posts describe the good works the company is initiating.

Given the high cost of talent, it’s always wise to attract the right people to your company from the get-go. And closely targeted campaigns and marketing programs can deliver a filter. A great example of this is the 2018 campaign by German airline Eurowings. Eurowings used Tinder to recruit new cabin staff targeting young people on the move who were always online. During the two-month campaign period Eurowings reached more than 600,000 users in the catchment areas of Munich, Stuttgart and Austria, securing an engagement rate of 9.8%.

The campaign ran via branded profile cards that worked like a Tinder profile. Users who clicked on a Eurowings branded profile received additional information about the specifications of the job advertised. If applicants swiped right, they got the ‘It’s a match’ message from Eurowings – combined with further information on the job advertised and a link to the Eurowings careers website eurowings.com/career, where anyone interested could find out more and apply.

Another great example of delivering, clear, relevant, inspirational and useful information for potential job candidates is Visa’s “Life at Visa” employer brand. The company has clearly identified the audience it is looking to attract, delivers relevant and appropriate information on the company’s corporate site and backs that up with social media to paint a picture of a brand with a clear corporate culture of inclusion, purpose, opportunity and leadership. Altogether, it presents an attractive proposition for the tight labor market in the Bay Area.

While compensation and benefits are important, potential employees consider a company’s culture, the chance to learn, be challenged, be part of diverse team, and whether the company gives back.  And that’s where content can really make an impression and communicate your advantages.

To put it simply––your company has content experience that you can apply to towards attracting and hiring new talent.  Bring your marketing skills to your hiring process!

5 Reasons Why You Should Be Developing Next Year’s Content Marketing Plan Now

5 Reasons Why You Should Be Developing Next Year’s Content Marketing Plan Now

It’s never too early to optimize 2020’s content marketing efforts.

At this time of year – early in the fourth quarter – many marketers are beginning to take stock of their budgets for the upcoming year.

And while “content marketing” has become a common line item in many promotion budgets, less frequently does a thoughtful content plan accompany it.

This is a miss, because a thoughtful content plan is one of the most effective strategies you can employ to attract new business and nurture the relationships you already have. Here are five reasons why.

 

1.  A content marketing plan helps you serve your customers

A thoughtful content plan helps you deliver to your customers information they want and value. You can identify topics of interest to your clients and prospects, and then prioritize them according to your business objectives within the content plan.

 

2. A content plan helps you manage your resources

No one has unlimited time or budgets and a content plan can help you prioritize where to focus your energy.

As you develop a plan, you go through the exercise of identifying the most valuable topics and projects for which you’ll be creating content — either by client/prospect demand, your current business strategy, or both — and eliminating the rest of the noise from the system.

If business partners or other stakeholders ask for content to promote a pet project that is neither top-of-mind for your customers nor the business, you’ll have a solid rationale sticking to your organization’s true priorities.

With a plan, only content initiatives that ultimately add value to customers and the bottom line and maximize your limited resources will make the cut.

 

3. It helps you stay in your wheelhouse

As you develop the plan, you want it to be grounded in the things your customers care about – and your customers will give you many, many ideas for content that they care about.

But those ideas may not all be aligned to your organization’s core competencies or value proposition.

Here’s an example: Perhaps you’re the owner of a number of suburban car dealerships, selling both traditional and hybrid vehicles. Many of your customers are interested in more information about electric cars, battery use in cars, self-driving cars, and other environmentally-related topics, particularly hybrid-SUVs. You are also trying to grow that area of your business. You might find that is a content area that you cultivate.

On the other hand, collecting and restoring classic cars may be an area of interest for some of your customers – and a personal passion for you – but it may not be core to your business strategy. Therefore, content on vintage autos may not be a key part of your content plan.

A solid content plan will keep you focused on the content that’s aligned to what you do best.

 

4. It keeps you on message

A content marketing plan that is focused on topics of importance to your customers, and aligned to your business objectives, can – and should – be rolled up to your most important marketing messages. You’ll know which messages to develop as your primary areas of focus, and others to include as secondary, supporting messages.

Consistency of messaging is key in an effective marketing program, and content marketing is no different. So a thoughtful content plan will keep you on message and make your program that much more effective.

 

5. It helps you target the customers you want

A thoughtful content marketing plan is just that – thoughtful. It is based on your business objectives and your customers’ and prospects’ needs. It allows you to develop content for the prospects or existing customers that you really want because they are core to your business’s strategy. Without a plan, you might find yourself developing content for any idea that comes across the transom. With a thoughtful plan, you can align your content efforts against the priorities that will make the biggest difference for your customers and your business.

Now is the time to begin your content marketing plan for next year. It’s a great tool for adding value to your customers and to your business.

If you would like to learn more about developing a content marketing plan for your organization, please contact me at mstaknis@imprintcontent.com.

 

CC 20: Addressing Gaps in Patient Communications

CC 20: Addressing Gaps in Patient Communications

At Imprint, we believe there are significant opportunities to better improve communications regarding personal health. Communications from two groups, in particular, stand out:  those from doctors’ offices and pharmacies.   Listen in to this podcast as Duncan Milne, Managing Director, Will Thomas, Senior Analyst, and Keval Shah, Intern, discuss how subtle shifts in your communications can radically improve the patient experience.

Intro music Golden Sunrise by Josh Woodward // CC BY

Why Journey Maps Are Important for Your Bottom Line

Why Journey Maps Are Important for Your Bottom Line

If you’re an experienced marketer, chances are you’ve created a customer journey map at some point. But if you’re new to marketing – or you haven’t created a customer journey map in a while – journey mapping is a simple marketing tactic worth revisiting.

Not only can it help you stay focused on creating a great customer experience, it can have a significant impact on your bottom line.

In fact, organizations that have a formal journey management program in place have much greater performance against a number of significant metrics than organizations that don’t, as you can see across the numerous metrics listed in the chart below.

The Benefits of Journey Mapping

Source: Aberdeen Group, November, 2016. Customer Journey Mapping: Lead the Way to Advocacy.

 

Aligning Customer Expectations and Experiences

The customer journey starts by understanding your customer’s complete experience with your organization. This is critical for delivering on your brand promise, particularly in the current era of on-demand, multi-channel options for engagement.

• 75% of customers say they expect a consistent experience wherever/however they engage with a brand (Source: Salesforce Research)

In order to deliver that consistent experience, you must be relentlessly focused on your customer’s needs. That’s where journey mapping becomes so valuable.

 

Illustrating the customer’s path towards her goal

A journey map will lay out a representative illustration of a customer’s interactions with your organization as that customer works to achieve a specific goal. Every interaction represents moment of engagement between you and your customer on his or her way towards achieving that goal.

At each moment of engagement, your customer needs something from you – information, a transaction, education, a product. Their need could be driven by any number of things – a life event, a goal they wish to achieve, or some other external trigger.

Your objective is to deliver exactly what the customer needs at that moment of engagement. The journey map will help you identify and define those elements, so that when your customer leans in you’re ready.

Voice of the customer information is always the most critical input into any journey map. And the voices of business partners across different functional areas around your organization including sales, operations, product development, are also critical for providing invaluable input into the process.

You need to know what you can deliver on internally when deciding how and where to meet your customers.

 

Let your customer be your guide

There are many different formats and models for journey maps. What is most important when you create a journey map, is that you keep your customer front and center.

One journey map model we like to use at Imprint is the “Trigger Model.” This illustrates a customer’s path starting from a point triggered by a particular event or situation, often a life event such as the birth of a child, marriage or divorce, or a component of a marketing campaign.

Another common journey map model is the “Day in the Life.” This follows the persona of a particular customer as they go through their daily routine. By mapping their daily activities – home, commute, work, thoughts, feelings, communication channels and devices, distractions – you have a very good sense of how little mind share your brand occupies in their daily lives. That gives you the right kind of visibility to make the most of every opportunity for engagement.

 

Put this technique to work for your business

When you have a complete view of all of the possible moments of engagement between your customers and your organization, you’ll be in the best position to deliver a great client experience.

And that means better, stickier relationships – and stronger revenue growth for your business.

 

 

RELATED CONTENT:

 

4 Essential Steps for Creating an Effective Journey Map

Imprint’s Kim Papa explains four key steps you should include when creating a journey map.

 

Activate the Wellness Journey

Imprint’s Molly O’Keefe offers insights for wellness brands looking to map customers’ journeys around physical fitness.

The Importance of Revamping Evergreen Content

The Importance of Revamping Evergreen Content

 

As content marketers, we’ve all learned the importance of creating evergreen content – that’s content we know will always be of interest and relevance to our customers. Why? Because evergreen content is not only highly cost effective, it can also deliver traffic and ensure a high ranking in search results for months or even years if it provides real value to your audience.

But you shouldn’t just post and forget. Your evergreen content could still need some TLC. Here’s why.

 

1. Your content doesn’t meet modern audiences’ visual expectations. We’ve all now come to expect rich visual experiences when we consume content. We respond so much more powerfully to images and graphics that enhance and bring to life the written content. If your evergreen content is a wall of text with only a single stock image, your users will move on.

2. Your users are mobile. In just the last year, mobile web traffic exceeded that of desktop, which is all the more reason to avoid that wall-of-text. Mobile users want short, snappy, bite-sized content that’s optimized for their devices.

3. It’s not optimized. Maybe you’ve redesigned your site; perhaps your tagging strategies have changed, you have a new CRM system or maybe those keywords are no longer as strong as they could be. For your content to be discoverable, check in on your evergreen content and its place in your content ecosystem.

 

So let’s say you’ve had a content program for some time now. What’s the best way to find the underperforming pieces? We’d recommend the same approach we adopt for our clients—a thorough audit of all your content.

At Imprint, we’ve found ourselves spending a great deal of time assessing and auditing our clients’ content that’s already available, from the merely ancient to the simply miscategorized—and then working with our clients to optimize it for audience expectations, accuracy, timeliness and revised messaging approaches.

If you’re going about an assessment and audit on your own, make sure to count assets and formats, and most importantly, figure out which content your users are engaging with most of all. Also try to review what exists for subject matter, effectiveness, timeliness, and relevancy to the goals and the audiences you’ve defined.

At the end of the day, we’ve often found that many of the wordier, older pieces of content on a site can be transformed with appropriate visual additions into more concise and engaging pieces of snackable content. Much, if not most, older content can be revamped in this way. Then, all that’s left is to map out where these new versions and their promotions fit with your current content calendar.

When marketers only have so much bandwidth and budget, refreshing existing content can conserve resources and drive ever greater engagement.

Summer Intern Insights: 5 Steps to Increase Consumer Trust in Your Brand

Summer Intern Insights: 5 Steps to Increase Consumer Trust in Your Brand

If you’re a content marketer, you know you need to build consumer trust and loyalty. But do you know the best ways to do so?

We decided to survey brands and consumers to find out for ourselves.

The surveys mirrored each other allowing easy comparison between both sides, and also between financial and nonfinancial brands. Brand surveys were sent out via email and social media, whereas consumer surveys were collected directly on the streets of NYC. We learned a lot! Here are some of our most interesting findings.

1. Product quality comes first

While we wanted to learn how brands build trust and loyalty, according to the consumers we interviewed, the answer was simple––before content, you have to have a great product. Over half of consumers rated it the most important driver of their trust, more than past service or reputation. Some consumers even stated that as long as they love a product, a high price or past scandals matter little. Once you’re confident in the quality of your product, your customer service experience should come next, which 31% of consumers ranked as most important. We also found that a great product can lose clients’ trust if it goes hand-in-hand with poor customer service.

2. Don’t oversaturate your audience

We looked at cadence: how often are consumers looking to hear from brands? We found that a little bit of space can help. No one wants to be bombarded with daily updates, but you do want to remain at the forefront of consumers’ minds. The fine line between too much and too little can be hard to distinguish––our research even suggested that it varies by industry. If you’re in the financial sector, aim for one email newsletter a month. If you’re a non-financial company, you can get away with weekly updates.

3. Industry matters for channel

For consumers, communication styles matter. Our research found that an overwhelming majority of consumers (75%) prefer financial brands to communicate to them through email, with while most to learn about non-financial firms through social media, (35%) or company websites and blogs (26%). So financial brands should plan on initiating contact, while non-financial firms should allow consumes to engage more proactively with the brand on social media and other digital channels.

4. Articles are alive and well––and being read

As consumers devote ever more time to digital media, you may worry if your article content still carries its weight. If so, you’d probably be reassured to know that, in our surveys, consumers rated articles as their preferred content type, more so than podcasts, infographics, and even videos. The percentages of article-boosters differed slightly with regards to industry, reflecting 86% of financial brands’ consumers and 59% of non-financial brands consumers respectively. Nonetheless, in the ongoing quest for eyeballs and attention, article content is still the steady workhorse of content marketing.

5. Let your brand speak for itself

As brands think about using influencers and even more traditional endorsements, they may want to listen to consumers—even if results seem positive, consumers may not be influenced. According to our research, while most brands who make use of endorsements found them to drive results, most consumers interviewed (over 60%) reported that endorsements have no effect on their loyalty to a particular brand. Perhaps consumers simply are unaware that they have been influenced by public figures. Or brands don’t want to believe that a significant investment isn’t paying off. Regardless, money spent on influencer endorsements should probably be spent on core investments, like improving your product.

Main takeaways

Knowing how brands can build trust and loyalty with consumers is essential to ultimately doing so through your content. Brands need to know where consumers derive their trust (your product), where they should reach consumers (email or social), what content to send (articles) and how often they should send it (not daily!). We hope our insights give confidence to marketers already focusing on these items, or provide an opportunity for them to reexamine their content strategies with an eye to their audience.

Activate the Wellness Journey

Activate the Wellness Journey

Health and wellness is a huge business, worth $167 billion in the U.S., and $3.7 trillion worldwide. But it’s a crowded market with many brands and personalities who have been successful in finding their own highly-tailored––and profitable––niches. From Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig, to Kayla Itsines and Shawn T, there are a wide range of trusted companies and personalities already in the space.

So how can your brand stand out?

Start with your target audience! When you know your audience, you can deliver a more relevant and engaging experience that will drive a deeper relationship with your customers. A firm focus on your customers and their journeys—and most importantly, mapping your content and promotion development to each—can have an enormous payoff.

 

 

So what does the consumer wellness journey look like for fitness?

We see three key stages:

1: Consideration

This is the period when the consumer is considering and planning on taking ownership of their health, fitness, weight and life. There are many influences, both negative and positive in this stage.

Negative pressures can include: Health issues, societal pressure, the consumer’s body image. Perhaps they are intimidated or skeptical about which program is going to work for them. They may be afraid of making a long-term commitment or they’re confused about where or how to start.

Positive influences can include the following: Inspiration from friends, media, or wellness personalities; Information and engagement by discovering a person, brand or content that resonates and speaks to their personal needs and goals; peers and family support that encourages and builds confidence to make a healthy change.

2: Decision

Here’s when the consumer takes the big leap—the decision to actually do something about their wellbeing, diet, fitness or life balance.

When consumers discover a program that’s simple they will respond; if they feel that a change they can make is convenient and relevant they are likely to choose it and, most importantly, they need to feel it is proven and that other people, just like them, have had success. This last point is one of the biggest reasons Kayla Itsines has been so successful.

3: Maintenance

Now the consumer needs to commit to his or her decision. They’ve made a huge life change and they need to feel they can keep going. Once again there are some negative pressures that may hamper them. They may feel there’s lack of progress or they may succumb to temptation in the form of food or lack of exercise; they may become bored or they may feel they do not have the time or money to commit.

At the same time there are positive ways in which our consumer can remain motivated, encouraged and committed. Firstly, and most importantly, by smart goal setting (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely); by seeing results from their efforts, by finding the program or change relatively easy and from the support they get from friends, from their family and from the program or personality they have chosen to follow. Here, Weight Watchers’ strong community nicely demonstrates how that support (such as organized weekly meetings) can help members stay on track.

 

 

Now, how should this influence the way you build your business?

We need to match the development of your brand to the consumer’s journey to have meaning, impact, relevancy and committed engagement. Just as there are three stages to in the wellness journey there are three stages to the development of your brand.

1: Discovery and brand building

Once your brand pillars and messaging platform are developed, people need to find you, they need to recognize the difference you offer, and ultimately, engage with you. So we need to develop a paid and organic content program across multiple platforms that allows you to become part of people’s conversations around their health, their wellness and their life goals.

To do this, we should build your communications around the key elements that support consumers’ wellness motivation, as follows:

Inspiration: We need to create and deliver inspiring content. Messaging that triggers an emotional response among consumers.

Information: Useful content that’s packed with utility and that piques a desire to find out more.

Engagement: Content that truly resonates, with messaging people feel is relevant to their lives, that that they feel comfortable with, and that’s authentic. Video is a great tool for engagement, you can add a poll or quiz to help consumers learn more about your product or service while driving a business outcome; a sign-up or purchase, etc.

Support: Motivating, encouraging, accessible and straightforward.

2: Acquisition

Through content, people get to know your firm, like and trust you. We then need to develop and deepen the relationship by providing content they want to pay for and continue to engage with. We need to turn your brand into a business.

The content we deliver at this stage in your business development needs, again, to match the consumer’s journey. It should be:

Simple: Easy to understand, achievable, straightforward

Convenient: Consumers should be able to see that they can fit this program into their lives. This is something they can fit into their daily routine.

Relevant: This is something consumers can relate to. It’s attainable, it’s practical, it feels like something they can do.

Proven: This is something that is backed by evidence of success. There are advocates – happy clients who have had their lives transformed and who love the difference you offer.

3: Renewal and advocacy

We want people to keep going. We want them to become part of a community. We want them to become fans and advocates that share your message and the life-changes made with their own networks. And we want them to continue to pay to be part of that.

So, here’s where we deliver content that is:

Goal oriented: Content that helps them meet straightforward and achievable goals.

Results focused: Content that helps users feel they’ve achieved measurable results, that a tangible difference has been made.

Easy: Content that’s frictionless. You’re not going to send them gimmicky or obtuse pieces that they won’t understand, or have them jump through too many hoops (outside of exercise, that is.)

Supportive: Content that shows you’ve got their back. You’ve been there, you know what they’re going through and you’re there to ensure they stay on track with messaging that is lively, friendly, supportive, useful and inspiring.

 

The Final Take

Building your business along your customers’ wellness journey is an involved and intricate process, but this investment of time and money will allow you to define yourself, engage more deeply with your desired audiences, and ultimately, drive greater returns.

Looking for more specific recommendations for your brand? Send me an email here.

Non-Profit Content: Small Budgets, Big Impact

Non-Profit Content: Small Budgets, Big Impact

If any sector needs to maximize the value of content, it is the non-profit space. While operating on smaller budgets than their corporate counterparts, many non-profit organizations regularly produce content, ranging from blogs to mailers to print magazines.

So non-profits clearly recognize the power of reaching audiences at the right time and place to encourage engagement and ultimately drive donation. Nonetheless, some remain understandably wary of oversaturating their audience. Especially when it comes to asking for donations—a simple increase in the number of calls-to-donate is rarely the best approach. But non-profits can take this best practice too far. Overcorrecting—too many content pieces with too few direct calls to action—is rarely a formula for success either. As usual, the best approach lies somewhere in the middle. Instead of overly focusing on the frequency of these asks, non-profit marketers should strive to have their calls for donations work as hard as possible.

And just how can marketers make this content work harder? One key to success is creating unique asks. I recently received an excellent mailer from Memorial Sloan Kettering hospital soliciting donations for a new type of research. A fresh, crisp piece neatly informed the reader of an innovative therapy. But what stuck with me was the flexibility of their ask for donations: They offered three separate ways to give to MSK (pictured below, left). Importantly, they also underscored the ease of giving by emphasizing that only three steps were involved (pictured below, right). Altogether, it was a far more comprehensive approach than an italicized “Please consider a gift to MSK” at the end of a piece.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Source: Memorial Sloan Kettering)

Small steps in this direction can also make a sizeable impact. The article below, from St. Jude Children’s Hospital, pushes a different and unique way to make a gift: through a charitable gift annuity. As part of a seasonal magazine in which many articles drive towards a donation, this request similarly adds an air of flexibility to readers’ donation options.

(Source: St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital)

Another way to maximize donations is to finely tailor the ask toward its audience. NYU Langone publishes a seasonal magazine, NYU Langone Health, for a physician audience. It included the strikingly bespoke request below. Practicing doctors are decidedly the audience most likely to understand the true cost of medical school, and thus receive a clear pitch for scholarship donations—likely maximizing donations over a simple gift request.

(Source: NYU Langone)

Furthermore, even nudges as small as a relatable photograph or a relevant paragraph can likely make a difference. The postcard below from Dana-Farber, sent to previous donors, makes use of striking imagery—a doctor comforting a child undergoing cancer treatment.

(Source: Dana-Farber)

Past donors may have fought cancer themselves, or had a friend or family member stricken. While their brush with cancer may have occurred in the past, the card reminds the audience subtly, with a human touch, that the fight continues. Such a provocative message simply could not be conveyed by a diagram of molecules or a generic man in a lab coat.

Non-profits need to make every marketing dollar work as hard as possible – this includes their content budgets. As a best practice, non-profits should not be shy about asking for donations. And they should be strategic and purposeful in how they make the ask — don’t make it seem like an afterthought! Instead, giving audiences unique, relevant content will likely drive higher engagement and, ultimately, motivate more donors to give.

 

Artificial or Emotional Intelligence: What’s Right for Your Brand Story?

Artificial or Emotional Intelligence: What’s Right for Your Brand Story?

We’re entering a new world in content marketing. A world of algorithms, datasets, automation, machine learning, predictive analytics and, of course, that misnomer catch-all – artificial intelligence (AI). Many of us are excited about this new adventure, many are anxious, most of us are just plain bewildered. What does it do? What does it mean? What’s my job going to be like—if I even have one?

According to the 2017 Economist Intelligence Unit report, which surveyed more than 200 global business executives, 75% said they would implement AI in their companies within the next three years. 79% believe AI will make their jobs easier and more efficient. According to Gartner, the artificial intelligence market is set to surpass $100 billion by 2025.

So we all know that we need to start planning and preparing for this, but we’re just not sure for what.

At this stage in our evolution as content marketers (and a species), artificial intelligence does not (yet) mean almost-sentient systems of semiconductor synapses that are going to put us all out of jobs.

“Artificial Intelligence” is, at its essence, a shiny short-hand for super-sophisticated organization—the creation of layers of information and the use of technology to understand the relationships between those layers of information. Understanding those layers lets us intuit future relationships, and allows us to prepare for future engagements our customers might have with our brand.

By looking for patterns and combining this information with smart, modular and semantically rich content, we can deliver more authentic communication, more relevant messaging, a better customer experience and thus more sales and more loyal customers.

Segmentation and targeting.

Artificial intelligence systems represent the next frontier of personalization, with the ability to create thousands of tailored content experiences that will enrich your relationships with your customers – albeit only if that personalization allows for more relevant information to be sent their way.

Offer selection and pricing.

The more we know, the more we’re going to be able to guide our customers (and crucially too, people who behave similarly to them) through their experience with our brand. We’ll be able to offer them additional information and provide alternatives, suggestions and upsells. We may even, if we want to take that risk, charge different people different prices dependent on our perceived sense of their future value.

Customer service and support.

And we’ll be able to offer more personalized support – support that is there at the right time and that addresses the right issues. We’ll be able to provide customer service that delivers loyalty and ongoing dialogue.

Necessity of a Human Connection.

But we’re not all going to be swept away (or aside) by big data and automated content. The Washington Post’s experience with automated story-telling technology can help illuminate why. Their proprietary tool, Heliograf, is used to cover areas such as the weather, local political results and high-school football games in the Washington DC metro area and, in so doing achieves two things. Firstly, it enables the Washington Post to deliver more highly localized news easily and efficiently. More importantly, it allows the rest of the news team to focus on more in-depth reporting where a human touch is needed. The most important stories require depth, intuition, nuance and empathy. Heliograf can’t do that; all it can do is provide (admittedly needed) cover for humans to make their best pieces even better.

So, while it’s estimated that in 2018 20% of all business content will be authored by machines, that human touch is always going to be needed. Because, the art of brand storytelling is going to become more, not less, important.

If your brand is going to be successful in a world where people are ordering and engaging through a smart speaker, a smart phone or a chatbot, your brand needs to be the one consumers ask for by name. They will only do that if they feel a connection with you; a bond. And while we can deliver automated content efficiently, we can’t yet deliver automated content that is emotionally rich, that resonates and that has the clearly articulated values which create that bond. That sort of content still needs the craft of a storyteller – a human being.

10 Secrets to Content Marketing Success for Financial Brands

10 Secrets to Content Marketing Success for Financial Brands

The Imprint team is delighted that the Gramercy Institute named us one of the financial sector’s Top Agencies for 2018.

We were especially thrilled to take part in a round table discussion with our peers, where each agency was asked to name one key driver to success in marketing for financial brands. Here are my takeaways.

1. Reuse content

You’ve got reams of content by now and, let’s face it, some pieces could use a face-lift. So don’t keep producing new content unless there’s a clear purpose; optimize what you have first. Focus on repackaging, transforming and enhancing evergreen content so it’s visually engaging, snappier, and optimized for social sharing.

2. Aim for the white space

Figure out what makes your brand stand out. Define what’s different about you, and your unique point of view. Also make sure your solutions and insights are relevant and useful to your customers and clients.

3. Have a purpose

Define how you are helping your customers and clients, as well as the value you’re providing. This can be emotional support, practical help, advice, information, guidance or data – ­or a combination of all of those things.

4. It’s human to human

We can all get caught up in discussing B2B strategies or B2C campaigns, but it’s always H2H – human to human. You’re talking with people. And people respond best to conversations, so you need to listen.

5. Collaborate

Of course your agencies are vendors, but they’re also partners. They’re full of fresh ideas and expertise, and they want your business to be successful—that’s why you hired them. So involve your external teams in every stage of your program from ideation to implementation.

6. Try new things

Don’t be afraid of pushing against brand guidelines. Take risks and innovate. Your audience, whether B2B or B2C, is expecting to see new formats and approaches to brand story telling. Fortune favors the brave.

7. Confront your internal hurdles around social media

You need to be where your customers and clients are having conversations. And that’s often on social channels—not a website. We’re in a highly regulated industry, but all brands need to get to grips with the compliance and approval obstacles that prevent them from taking true advantage of social media’s opportunities. You need to tie social into content development process and also plan for some spontaneity.

8. Create an emotional connection

People want interaction on social media, so leverage that. Be personal, warm, and informal and you’ll create a dialogue that will be incredibly valuable both to you and your customer or client. Ensure your content makes sense to your audience’s life or business.

9. Inspire action

Give your audience a way to respond to your content—and not only through a 1-800 number or an email address. Ensure your audience will want to share and comment on your content.

10. Be strategic not tactical

Every piece of content you create or repackage should be built around a goal, a target audience, a customer journey and a message that supports, builds and brings to life your brand’s business.

 

To the teams at:

 

Congratulations! We’re proud to be part of such a smart, thoughtful and committed industry. Thanks for your insight. Here’s to a successful, strategic and engaging year of financial content marketing.

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