Tag Archives: social media

What does Content Marketing actually mean for a business?

What does Content Marketing actually mean for a business?

by Ingrida Andrijauskaite

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Content marketing has recently become bigger than ever. Most companies are beginning to focus on the creation and publication of content for marketing purposes, with the objective of selling an idea rather than just a product or service. Due to this, marketing budgets are being actively reallocated in order to gain the best content marketing efforts for brand communications.

What is the Content Marketing?

In order to understand what content marketing truly means for a business, we should become familiar with the meaning of this term. The Content Marketing Institute from United States outlines that content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content. The main goal of this marketing mode is to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience, which means the objective of driving profitable customer action. [1]

Furthermore, content marketing is known as the creation and sharing of content for the purpose of promoting a product or service. The majority of marketing professionals are emphasizing that content plays an important role in B2B marketing strategies. Marketing professionals hold an opinion that businesses should deliver consistent and on-going valuable information to customers and highlight their responsible practices through content marketing. This can help long-term customer engagement and loyalty.

Content marketing can also contributes to an increase in sales, through quality content that allows customers to better understand the added value of a company’s service or product. This could help your company win a significant and appreciable position in the advertising & branding industry.

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How does the machine that drives Content Marketing work?

Creating the right message for the right time is the key element to excellent content marketing. A content marketing strategy starts to gain form when you begin to define the viewpoint and characteristics of buyers, and also determine the main questions which customers ask during buying process. After this, marketers and business stakeholders can decide which types of content marketing strategy are more suitable for communicating their brand to the public. Will you use infographics for your content marketing? Or perhaps blogs or video campaigns, or others?

Content marketing distinguishes three main types of content text for promoting your brand: images, videos and infographics. The content text of a content marketing strategy can be used for describing the company’s services or other company information. For this purpose images can be used to illustrate the location of the company’s offices or organizational structure.

However, videos are more suitable if you want to show an interesting movie of company’s experience and values, or present the value of your product and service, and its benefit to your customers. Infographics can be used as a graphic visual representations of a company’s information. Also, it can be used to present the growth achievements of a company’s business.

Why content marketing is beneficial for small business?

This is no secret: most small business do not have a large enough budget for more traditional advertising tools such as spots on national TV or large print campaigns. Content marketing campaigns can be executed through social media networks, company websites, blog etc. and therefore are an easier and less expensive tool for promoting your brand.

Most B2B small business marketers and stakeholders are using more actively social media content tactics rather than blogs or podcasting, because they believe it do be more effective. This also demonstrates that social media is currently one of the most popular content marketing tactics, being that social media provides your business with the power to engage your target audience and improve brand awareness.

In conclusion, content marketing helps you to sell your brand products or services through the right way, as well as avoid wasting time, financial sources and marketing efforts. This marketing strategy can provide your business with the best solution for presenting content-driven experiences, which are exciting and useful to your customers, and increases the understanding of your brand.

If you need an inspiration, listen to the speech of producer Kevin Spacey about the Storytelling in the Content Marketing:

[1] About Content Marketing more here: http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/what-is-content-marketing/

 

The evolution of brand communication strategies: a visual approach

The evolution of brand communication strategies: a visual approach

by Sasha Seddon

brand communication evolution

Social media has undergone an evolution, changing from lengthier, text-based communication to a more visual approach. William J Ward, Social Media Professor at Syracuse University has described a gradual movement towards visual strategies, from the early blog changing to the status update of Facebook, to the current state where “we are skipping words altogether and moving towards more visual communication with social-sharing sites like Pinterest”.

It could be argued that those brands implementing visual social media strategies will attain the social currency of likes, shares and follows necessary to survive and flourish in the online Darwinian struggle. Detavio Samuals, Director of Client Services at the successful advertising agency GlobalHue, postures that using pictures has “become a short form way of communicating lots of information quickly and succinctly…for publishers, it was evolve or risk losing their audience”.

A study by ROI Research in 2012 discovered that almost half of respondents were more likely to engage with a brand if they posted images as opposed to other forms of media. The market research company World Wide Worx has reported a ‘visual revolution’ in social media usage in South Africa. The MD, Arthur Goldstuck, summarizes the future of brand communication as such: “once the cost of mobile data comes down for the emerging smartphone market, video will become a dominant medium, strongly supported by other visual media.”

In an analysis by the lead generation marketing experts Wishpond, the predictions for 2014 were that visual content would predominate in brand communication strategies. Their reasons for this were based on research finding that: videos on landing pages increase average page conversion rates by 86%, social media posts with visuals receive 94% more page visits and engagement than those without, and 67% of consumers value detailed images over customer ratings or product information, amongst other findings.

Furthermore, a 2013 report by Shareaholic found that, from 2012-13 there was a 66.52% growth in traffic referrals from Pinterest. This increase was the greatest for all the networks examined. YouTube also displayed a high increase, of 52.86%. This shows that social media platforms predominantly focusing on visual material (photos/video posts) have recently shown the greatest improvement when it comes to converting viewers into potential customers. It suggests that the demographic swayed or enticed by visual brand communication material has increased in recent years.

But why has this trend become prominent in brand communication?

Images will always be more appealing and informative for humans. With images, there isn’t the same ambiguity as in text, which deals with the issues of rhetoric and semantics, language barriers and the literacy level of the reader. Pictures may not always say a thousand words, but they can compensate for these pitfalls in the written word, conveying a simple idea to a universal audience. From a psychological perspective, our brains are incredibly receptive to visual stimuli; many of our letters and symbols are based on shapes and morphologies found in nature. We also process visual stimuli 60,000 times faster than text, as all the information an image possesses is absorbed simultaneously – there is no linear narrative as with text – and they are assimilated into long-term memory much more readily.

We are now living in an era of constant multi-tasking and in which our brains are flooded by continual advertisements. We trawl through social media networks while watching TV. Adverts appear on the periphery of websites and on search engines; even when we’re reading news, researching for an essay, trying to find nightlife in our local area, nowhere online is safe from the threat of advertising and brand communication. Internet users and avid social media users in particular have therefore in a way been inoculated against this – we don’t pay attention to ads lurking on the fringes of pages, we install software to block pop-ups, we often only ‘like’ brands when they offer us something in return.

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What determines whether the information seeping in will have any impact is the question perpetually asked by advertisers and marketers. It is not that the answer is elusive, it is that it is by nature continually changing. Companies have to carry on adapting their brand communication strategies in response to changes in technology and the inevitable trickle-down effect this has on social media. The evolution of technology and social media marketing go hand-in-hand, somewhat similar to the predator-prey co-evolution of the social media marketer and the online user.

What is important to acknowledge is that, nowadays, there is a shift occurring towards more visual forms of brand communication on social media channels. This may change in the future; a preference for text may resurge or a form of media not yet invented may pop up and revolutionize the world of social media.

Living in the here and now

This visual-centric paradigm is present now as it is the most adapted or ‘fit’ for our current environment. Using imagery means that brands can attempt to blast through the bombardment of brand communication we receive. In a world where social interaction can mean scrolling through news feeds and picking out items of interest, those items which immediately grab your attention (rather than slowly creeping up on you) will win. Images should do better than long pieces of text which you have to stop and concentrate in order to take in.

What should be considered for a visual brand communication strategy

Incorporating visual communication into social media strategies gives a company a way of showing, instead of telling, their story and showcasing their products. Also, a consistent brand message can be channelled if the company’s logo and pictures all bear similar connotations or themes – whether this be a playful/authoritative, ethical, luxurious/economical, innocent/fiendishly tempting voice.

It is also important for brand communication to account for the impact and connotations of different colours – colour psychology. Coca-Cola’s distinctive red denotes vibrancy, excitement and flavour, Facebook’s dark blue makes it seem trustworthy and secure, which is obviously important for a company involved in handling online security issues and the creation and maintenance of the users’ virtual social lives.

With regards to logos, symbolism is also a crucial factor in brand communication – the logo should not be confusing or complex, but should be unique. Bearing in mind the target audience is also of importance when choosing a colour palette or a design for the logo and brand images.

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The importance of Ethics in Sales: the opinion of Nick Lee, Honorary Professor at Aston University, Birmingham

The importance of Ethics in Sales: the opinion of Nick Lee, Honorary Professor at Aston University, Birmingham

by Antonia Di Lorenzo

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As water and oil for some companies or bread and butter for other ones, Ethics and Sales is one of the thorny problems which involves the new frontier of the business.

As if I were one of his students, Nick Lee, Honorary Professor at Aston University, Birmingham, explained me in an interview the importance of “being ethics” and how to connect this aspect to the main aim of making profit.

Author of Journal of Management, Journal of Business Ethics, Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management, Dr. Lee’s work has also featured in popular outlets such as The Times, The Financial Times and BBC Breakfast.

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  • Dr Lee, what relevance does ethics have in business and why?

I think it depends, there are a lot of ways you can say it is relevant. It depends on what you mean by ethics.

  • What does ethics mean for you?

I think you talk about behaving in a fair manner. Essentially not taking advantage of the organization or customers in sales. In sales I think this is a very important thing. We have to be realistic. In sales the main objective is to make profit but automatically I think the important thing is to talk about long-term profit.

If we behave in an unethical way we tend to focus on the short-term. If we see companies having problems this is because they don’t have very good long-term prospects on relationships. Some of the reasons for the financial crisis was that there was too much short-term focus on making profit. If you think about long-term continuing relationships and continuing business, then  ethical behavior is the natural thing to do.

  • How would you recognize an ethical business? What characteristics do ethical business have in your opinion?

There isn’t a model that you can look at a business and you can say that it is ethical. You don’t have to say “we are an ethical business”. I guess what ethical organizations have in common is that they have good ethical role models, that is people who behave ethically and show you can be successful by being ethical. A lot of problems with ethics is that people make bad decisions. But they don’t make bad decisions because they are bad people, but because they don’t have experience or a knowledge what the right decision can be or they feel under pressure.

  • What do you mean for “bad decisions”?

Defining what makes a behavior ethical or unethical is actually a difficult task. Everyone knows you are wrong if you go to a customer meeting and you hit your customer with a baseball bat. But what about if you are in a customer meeting, you have to make a target by the end of the week and the customer maybe is thinking he wants to delay the decision for two weeks. What do you do? Do you lie to the customer? You can say if he orders after the end of the week, his order will be not quick enough because many factory facilities are overstressed, so he has to order quickly. And it is lying to the customer.

Lying is unethical in a philosophy point of view, but you can look at a practical one. Is anybody really being hurt by unethical behavior? Do you just think of unethical because of the behavior or the consequences? This is one of the questions we always have to think when we talk about ethics. But also why people behave like that. One reason may be they are under pressure or they don’t realize the importance of behaving in a truthful manner or they don’t have a good role model as sales manager.

  • What about Trust and Credibility? Firstly, how is possible to get the customer’s trust? How long does it take to develop a strong relationship with a customer?

If you have ethical behavior you can build trust. Sometimes people behave unethically because they are afraid. According to an economic theory, if you think someone is harming you also feel you can advantage of them. Building trust from the customer is always a difficult task.  As every relationship, it takes a long time to build a good relationship but it doesn’t take very long to break the relationship. Usually in a long term is always an ineffective strategy to be unethical, but in a short term you can relate to a great performance.

  • How much can the reputation influence a customer?

Company reputation can play an important role at the beginning of the relationship. It can help a lot to build trust.

  • If credibility comes from performance and professional reputation, what is the role of the social media? How much can they influence what people think about you?

Social media plays an important role. I think it is easier to influence people in a bad way rather than in a good way. I think it takes more to build a positive reputation. A lot of campaigns were wrong because people who were running them didn’t expect how consumers will take that. A lot of companies don’t know what it is going to happen when you put something online.

  • Can spending time together and sharing the same interests be a way to get the customer’s trust? If yes, which is the borderline?

Yes, it can. Psychologically we know that sharing interests can help to build a relationship together. But the important thing is to avoid to pass the “borderline” and be genuine. The company has to look genuine, in terms that you have to look real, not just an act.

  • Do you believe there are many organizations currently adopting an ethical approach in terms of engagement?

I think it is hard to say. It is hard to really place ethical frameworks around what people are doing. There are a couple of things to be worried about: one is how important you think being authentic is unethical or to be presenting an image to the world that is not true. But companies do that as part of their job. But probably the image ethical concerning everybody, consumers and staff, related online, is the data collection and data protection.

  • At the recent London conference by Ethisphere on ethics and governance one attendee suggested “sales trump ethics every time.” This was asserting that for most companies if it’s a choice between ethics and sales, the latter always wins. What do you think about that? Do you believe that sales always trumps ethics?

It is a kind of false choice. It is easy to say things like that, but we don’t have any reference. If you face people with the right choice you can always influence what they choose. But the problem is between Ethics and Sales on a long term prospective. On a short term basis perhaps that’s the case, for individual salespersons sometimes the choice can concern choosing the easier and the more beneficial outcome for themselves. What we have to do is showing very clearly the benefits.

People always choose the benefit over no benefit. That’s the truth. We have to present the ethical choice as long term benefit, rather than a short term benefit. The problem we had in the past concerns that there were a lot companies focused on short term performances and influenced by unethical behavior. Ethical behavior is more about long term relationships generation.

If you think about your personal life, for example, if you married with somebody you have a long term prospective or if you have a long term relationship, it is in your benefit to place wider criterion of your decision rather than your short term benefit when you are out on an evening or in a night club. Business is not different to life. If we have long-term prospective the ethical choice is always the highest performance choice. The problem is when we motivate people with short-term prospective.

If we have effective long terms wider intensive motivational programs, people will be motivated to behave more ethically. Our job is saving the long-term prospective as preference.

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