Is Content Marketing Really a Must-Do for the Modern Business Owner?

In the crowded online space where consumers really can buy almost anything from behemoth Amazon, what's stopping them from doing that? I think it has to do with the ease associated with Amazon buying. 

Take this example. One morning you decide you want a new rug. The in-laws are coming and your place is looking tired. A quick visit to Amazon shows the current trends, what other buyers have picked. You can buy a rug that looks half-way decent with 'one click'. You might even receive that rug the same day, if you're a Prime account holder and live in a main centre like Tokyo. The purchase feels so impersonal and disconnected from reality that when the rug or the thing arrives you might find yourself looking at it rather critically if it's not quite perfect. It's actually too easy to make a purchase you may regret later. 

Contrast that with a purchase of a hand-loomed rug that you have been eyeing up for months or even years. Each time you visit the website or get an email from the weavers you fall a little bit more in love with the people behind the intensely beautiful designs. Each smiling face or calloused hand photo that pops up in Instagram makes you lust after that rug more. Seeing it pinned on Pinterest or appearing in a designer's home in your favourite magazine sends you into a frenzy. These rugmakers tell a story,  the story of the community your purchase will help support. They share the details, the design process, the painstaking selection of the wool and the dyeing technique. The history of the company and its humble beginnings, the legacy of the founders, the dreams of the first employees, are woven into each rug. 

You're willing to pay a lot more for this rug. You will wait for it to be delivered, knowing it was crafted by hand. If it arrives with a tiny imperfection or a bit later than expected you will forgive easily. You've been in love with this rug before it was even conceived. 

The Amazons of this world have their place. I don't care who made my printer ink. I just want to get the right ink, at a good price, without any fuss. Amazon will deliver on this promise. I have very little vested in the transaction.

The rug though, that's a different story. It's part of my greater vision for a beautiful home that is comfortable for my family and welcoming to my guests. That rug, it's better with a story. I will love that rug for years, decades even. 

If you still need to ask whether content marketing is a must-do for your company then ask yourself this: Are you the Amazon of your industry? Or do you have to work harder to attract customers and win their affection? 

How can you authentically give your customer what they need and feel good doing it?

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Adding what 'they' need to what 'you' need. 
That's the formula for success. 


Oh but that's harder than it sounds. 
It's rarely 2+2=4 in the real world!

How can you authentically give your customer what they need and feel good doing it?

It starts with listening to your customer and observing her. Make a real effort to understand and predict her wants and desires. Talk to her, ask her questions, notice what she's commenting on in your social media posts. Have real conversations. Where are the gaps? Is she expressing frustration, doubt, or uncertainty? Can you help?

Here's an example of an unmet need of mine. I've often thought about taking a ski trip to Hokkaido. I've never been there before so it feels like the great unknown. My fears relate to these broad categories: having language difficulties, things being more expensive than expected with lots of hidden costs, spending the whole time coordinating my family on a stressful chaotic holiday and coming back exhausted.

When I heard about Niseko Central I immediately started to feel more confident about this trip. It's not happening this year, it's still "one day" ... but with each newsletter I receive I feel more excited about the possibilities and I CAN SEE MYSELF AND MY KIDS in the pictures.

Here are the steps. Identify the need. Tap into your own passionate knowledge base and provide a solution. Guide the prospective customer towards being able to see, feel and taste herself with that solution / in that scenario. Keep building the excitement, the desire. Keep assuaging her fears. Eventually, hopefully sooner rather than later, you'll make the sale.

Ski trip anyone? https://www.nisekocentral.com/

Your Customers Don't Care About You, They Care About Themselves!

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Yesterday we talked about "our why" - why we're in business for ourselves, what makes us excited to wake up each morning. 

It got me thinking about our needs as humans. 
But more importantly the needs of our customers. 

Long ago when I was a marketing student we studied Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Represented as a pyramid it tells us what we need most in order to survive and thrive as human beings. 

Our basic needs include food, water, sleep. The next level of needs cover things like a secure and safe place to live. Law, stability and freedom from fear are included in this section. These basic needs correspond to our highest level of motivation to take action to resolve any deficits. 

In this day and age we take it for granted that everyone has these basic needs provided for (although in the case of women, single mothers, divorced mothers and those with mental illness, etc, this can't be taken for granted). 

Therefore most of us are selling products and services that speak to the higher levels of need, psychological needs such as esteem, belonging and friendship. 

Let's turn our thoughts to "their why".

Your customer buys the newest model precision racing skis from you because he wants to look cool, gain status, ski faster and win the respect of his friends.

She buys the designer clothing you sell for her kids because she wants her mum friends to think that she is an excellent mother. She loves them more than anything so giving them the best she can afford is an expression of her love for them. 

The bespoke statement necklaces that you make allow your customer to feel beautiful, confident and respected at work. 

Why are your customers buying your product or service and are you tapping into their deep psychological need in your marketing message and sales presentations? This is the difference between 'nice to have' and 'must-have'. Which would you rather be? 

references: http://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html

Why do you wake up on a Monday morning?

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Sometimes on Monday morning I sit down at my desk and regret ALL the time I wasted on the weekend. 

This morning, sitting here I glanced at my bookshelf for some inspiration. These words jumped out at me: Optimization! Mastery! Power! Tactics! Ultimate! Strengths! 
(business books all touting the same strategies for getting ahead)

Then my eye strays to the shelves above, where I see these titles: More Secrets of Happy Children, Growing Great Boys, Raising Boys, The Lost Art of Childhood ... and many more about the joys of parenting.

It's a sweet reminder of why we do what we do. I'm no different from anyone else, I just want to raise my boys to be happy, successful citizens. I know I'm doing a good job with that. I have nice kids. But I could be doing a better job being more present when they are home - working less! and not regretting time away from work if it's been time spent with family!

That's my why. 

What's yours? Are you keeping that purpose front of mind? I'll be the first to admit that I can get carried away with the idea of wanting to have a huge amazing business that helps women all over the world. But that's a means to an end. The goal is to be able to be a good parent and support my family (physically, mentally and financially). 

Spend a minute thinking about why you do what you do and how you're measuring up. 

pic - one of my kids at a temple a few summers back.