Over the last several years, we have been a part of the biggest shift in the way people communicate in a generation – possibly since our grand parents were the same age as we are now. With the help of platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and, more recently, Snapchat, the smartphone has changed everything. While we don’t make as many calls as we used to, we communicate with the people around us more than ever.
Segmentation used to be really easy – marketers would base their assumptions on a whole range of personality traits on something as simple as an age group. Baby boomers craved individual choice; Gen-X strived for results; and Gen-Y embraced change like no generation before it.
The vast amounts of data available to marketers today gives us more context than we’ve ever had. We know what they’re eating, what they buy, who they know and, more important, what really pulls their emotional heart strings. We can begin to understand our prospects’ motivations and values. As a result, most marketers now segment and target by jobs to be done, interests and beliefs rather than something as simple as an age group.
This has never been more relevant than the generation that has grown up with YouTube. This group, often referred to as Generation C, isn’t defined by age, but by mindset. They love to create, curate, connect and build communities around their interests and beliefs.
They’ve dismissed traditional advertising, but consume content (particularly video) online in vast quantities. If the content isn’t personalised, original and relevant to them, they ignore it. Two-thirds of them upload photos to social networks; two-fifths don’t watch TV; while nine in ten seek approval from their peers before making purchasing decisions and also sleep next to their phone.
This generation is driving what has been referred to as the humanization of business. They don’t want to do business with a faceless company; they want to feel like they’re talking to a human. Humans have feelings, and they make mistakes.
Being real. Being transparent.
We are in an era where political correctness has influenced the way we communicate. Just look at your Facebook feed. Most of it is lies – because most of us are afraid to upset those around us. We’re being trained to look infallible and to be living the perfect life. The reality is that we’re human and we don’t live perfect lives, no matter whether we believe we do or not. This leads to a bland, grey snoredom void from any real opinion.
The reality is that we’re not infallible and we’re human – and humans have opinions. And, guess what, it’s OK if someone disagrees with you. Don’t be afraid to put your neck on the line, whether it’s you or the company you work for communicating. At bit-tech.net, some of our biggest advocates and most active members of our community were actually our biggest critics when they first joined the community. They disagreed with something we had written strongly enough that they signed up to register their disagreement.
The content marketing that engages and gets read actually stands for something. It’s incredibly powerful to draw your line in the sand, and even those that you alienate will respect you for at least having an opinion. For this reason, we’re starting to see modern marketing teams become more agile and to improvise in-the-moment. If there’s an opportunity to jump on a topic that matches your audiences’ beliefs – it’s a win-win-win if you do.
Telling your story and provide value
Storytelling was at the heart of every great marketing strategy in the last 5 years. This new generation of curators values real stories with genuine human emotions, so speak to those emotions with content marketing. Use the data you have to build a day in the life of your ideal customer and find a way to insert your story into their life. They don’t want to be interrupted, but they do have an appetite to learn, to be inspired or to be amused.
Your story is your business – forget about plugging your product at every opportunity and consider the mindset of someone who might buy your product instead. Be real. Be human.
If you’re selling performance cars, think about all of the great driving routes you could share with your potential customers. If you’re selling consumer technology, think about the things your customer might use your product for and focus on that instead of the product’s features and benefits.
Make the content about them and make it genuine. The best content marketing is created without the expectation of getting anything in return.
What of traditional advertising?
This is the polar opposite of traditional marketing methods, which focused on interrupting the consumer and expecting to get something in return as quickly as possible. This was the way we made money in the past, but that doesn’t confound traditional advertising methods into the history books.
We can use advertising to deliver a different message – instead of selling and interrupting, provide something of value that might lead to a sale further down the line. Advertise your content – your ads are your distribution engine. What’s important is that your micro-content is sympathetic to the platform it is appearing on.
It has to fit in.
Why do your prospects go onto Facebook? It’s not to see ads for your product – it’s to keep in touch with their family and friends – so you have to fit in or risk being ignored. Why do they go to Instagram? It’s usually to be inspired. Why do they go to Twitter? To find out what’s going on in the world.
The world has changed, and it’s time that we change the way we communicate with our potential customers.
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