Content marketing has gotten a bad rap in recent years, no thanks to the hard-sell hucksters.
Too many businesses have falsely labelled their efforts as content marketing when they merely package their ad or sales pitch in the guise of a blog post, eBook, or webinar.You can immediately tell the difference when you consume their content and realise that there isn’t any valuable takeaway.
All it offers is just superficial fluff. And if you wish to get to the really valuable stuff, you’ll have to jump through hoops to get them.
So how can you avoid becoming one of these fake content marketing organisations?
The answer lies in how you can give truly good gifts through your marketing.
Givers versus Takers
There are two types of businesses in this world – the givers and the takers.
Like humans, givers consider the needs of others first and foremost, while takers plot over how they can maximise their gain.
Givers make giving a mantra. They seek first to understand, and then to be understood. They give first without thinking of getting.
Givers find ways to meet their customers needs in the best way possible for their customers. They are customer-oriented and other-centred. They find joy and happiness in delighting others through their actions, deeds, and words.
Takers, on the other hand, are focused on receiving. Obsessed with the transaction, they do not care if their customers need, want or desire their products or services.
Their focus is to look at what they have – the products and services in their inventory, or their most profitable offering – and shove it down their prospect’s throat.
In the world of takers, it is all about you buying and me profiting. Every action is targeted at getting you to open your wallet. And then some.
Are You Offering Real Value?
Often, the line between the two is unclear.
Is offering a two-for-one deal an act of generosity or selfishness? What about providing a lifelong warranty on all parts? Or a 20% discount if you recommend two other friends to buy? Or requesting your prospects to fill in a form for a lead magnet, so that you can contact them later?
The thing is this.
Are you offering real value to your customers? Would they be tempted to purchase because of your dangling carrots but regret their decision later?
More importantly, are your customers going to be so happy after using your product or service that they will spread the word?
Naturally, there is a limit to how generous you can be. After all, we cannot survive on love and fresh air.
However, if our motive in business is to sell Sell SELL without providing real utility, the truth will eventually set your customers free.
And they will fly faster than a speeding bullet away from your selfish enterprise.
What Giving through Marketing Really Means
How then can we offer true value? Especially when we need to account for the costs of whatever we are giving away.
#1 Obsess Over Your Customer’s Real Needs
For a start, hone in on who exactly your ideal customer should be. And what exactly your ideal customer truly wants, needs or desires.
Meticulously study and examine what their motivations, behaviours, and thoughts are. Probe deeply into their psyche. Participate in their social circles.
Eat, sleep and breathe like your potential customer. Spend a day in their shoes. Talk to them. Walk with them.
#2 Give Useful Content, Tips and Insights—for FREE
Give away valuable information, tips and insights for free. Offer value way before you ever make the first sale.
This can be anything that will immediately help your target audience without them needing to whip out their credit card. Or even provide you with their contact details (those should be for even more valuable content, products, or experiences.)
Examples include one-minute videos that address a specific need on Instagram. Or a blog article that specifically addresses their industry. Or a deck of slides that they can download and apply. Or an infographic that they can print out and refer to.
#3 Craft Products and Services to Fit Customer Niche
Next, shape and develop your products and services to suit that niche.
When you do so, be razor sharp in finessing every detail. Make sure that your products or services can speak directly to their unique needs, wants or desires.
In a hyper-competitive world of multiple substitute products, you can’t afford to be slipshod and lazy.
Make your products and services so distinctive, so differentiated, so valuable, and yes, so fun to use that your customers can’t stop raving about them.
#4 Storify Your Brand Offerings
Thereafter, develop a story for your brands—one that is truthful, authentic, relevant and fascinating to your customers.
Ensure that your narrative can resonate with your audiences. Even better if you can make it theirs.
Think of it less as selling something and more of recruiting and enlisting new members to join your community.
Cocoon your products and services in your brand story, through artful packaging, compelling communications, and delightful designs.
#5 Turn Products and Services into Experiences
Very importantly, offer your products and services not as “stuff” but as “experiences.”
By this stage, you would have been so spot-on in developing them to suit your customer’s needs that they would be pleased to help themselves with nary a hard selling promotional pitch.
Providing memorable and delightful experiences covers every step of your customer journey. It means providing them with exactly what they need at the right place and the right time. Or helping them to be a better version of themselves
#6 Go Beyond the Cash Register
Oh yes, before I forget. The sale doesn’t end at the cash register. In fact, you may want to adore and pamper your customers who paid you with more good gifts.
Customer experience management entails looking at how your customers have engaged with your products and services, considering their feedback, and rewarding them for their patronage—not just in monetary or material value, but in other forms of goodwill.
Like a genuine birthday greeting and offer. Or a personalised note to keep in touch with them. Or a bonus piece of advice to help them do better.
Giving is an art and a science. Taking is pure animal instinct.
Offer gifts that your customers will cherish and relish, devote special care and attention to creating remarkable products and services that can sell themselves.
And the little positive encounters that your customers will experience as they research, learn, purchase, and consume your gift.
True gifts are not sold at a huge discount for one day only. Rather, they are born out of a commitment to invent and shape great products and services that meet customers needs in a near fanatic fashion.