When I sit down at my desk to write every day, I am simultaneously energised and discouraged.
On the bright side, it is amazing that we live in a time when (and place where) everybody is free to express their thoughts immediately, in a completely unfiltered medium. The Internet has done this for us. You can start a blog tomorrow and publish on anything that you want, for free, without fear of censorship or restraint. Somewhere, Gutenberg is smiling.
On the flip side of that coin, however, this freedom to publish inevitably means that there is a much lower threshold for quality content on the Internet than through traditional publishing mediums. Plainly stated: There is an overwhelming amount of crap out there.
Writers and other content creators struggle daily to find the balance between publishing enough volume of work to be relevant and enough quality work to make a difference in people’s lives. It is not an easy task.
So how does marketing fit into this equation?
First, a paradigm shift for you: Instant access to online content, social media and resources has changed the definition of marketing forever.
It will never be the same. Get over it.
Sales psychology, hard sell tactics, long form sales letters… all those have their places in the marketing arsenal. But much of that stuff is trite and transparent. Old hat, if you will. The new marketing formula is much more elemental than all of that.
Teaching is the new marketing.
The paradigm shift
Your prospects and your clients are not mindless faces, robots or sheep. They are real human beings. And we paradoxical humans love to buy but hate being sold to.
The easiest way to slice through that human paradox is to teach a person something and let them decide whether they want to further their education with you or not. Your goal should be to provide value to them regardless of their response to you. Now, your followers are no longer your customers, they are your students.
Welcome to marketing in the information age.
The benefits of acquiring “students” rather than “customers”
Changing the way you think about your customers will drastically increase your rapport with them and, as a result, your sales. There are many benefits to looking at your customers and clients as students instead of dollar signs.
The immediate benefit for both parties is a softening of the interaction. I recognized this firsthand when I worked at a restaurant for a few years. In the back of the kitchen, we would always refer to patrons as “customers.” As in, “my customer did this” or “I have four customers right now.”
Management emphasised that we refer to patrons not as “customers” but as “guests.” At the time, I thought that this detail was too miniscule to make a difference. But it really did. As soon as I started referring to my customers as guests, I detected an almost imperceptible softness towards them creep up on me.
I didn’t have any specifically positive feelings towards a “customer.” The word “guest,” however, triggered a slew of emotional and cultural cues in my head regarding how I should treat them. The cultural norm is to treat guests with love and kindness. A small word change made me a better server.
This change did not go unnoticed. When I became a better server, all of a sudden, they became better guests. Guess what got better after that?
Adopting the mindset
The mindset for selling any product or service is exactly the same. We have to change the way that we look at our clients and ourselves.
Changing the relationship from business-client to teacher-student is a huge shift that injects benevolence into the mix. You’ll care about your students and they will care about you in return.
Whenever you engage a customer, set out first to deliver them information that will enhance their lives. Whether or not they select you or your product, your goal should be to make sure that they walk away knowing more than they did before the interaction.
Luckily, I don’t have to work at the restaurant anymore. My business now is focused on coaching young people and helping them build start-up companies online. Naturally, this puts me in a situation where people have a ton of questions for me.
Rather than hoarding all the information and trying to squeeze every dollar out of them before I give them the “secret sauce,” I just tell them what they want to know.
There is no possible way that educating them can rob me of anything I’ve worked to build, and in the long run, they will feel grateful that I helped them in a time of need without pressuring a sale. Most marketers (read: 99 percent) don’t do this.
I’ve found that instead of getting taken advantage of, this approach actually brings me many more clients (“students”) than ever before. Even if educating prospective customers means exposing them to the fact that my competitors also have some good products to offer, that’s OK too. My goal is to come from a place of true authenticity.
People feel that authenticity. People will bond with that. That bond will lead to an enhanced relationship and, ultimately, much higher conversions from prospect to customer.
It’s the ultimate win-win.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Gen Z Is Coming! Are You Ready?
How do you market your company to this generation?
According to the CNBC, about 61 000 Gen Zers are on the verge of entering the workforce and consumer market in the US alone.
They are digital natives; they have grown up in a world of vines, txts (yes, we know) and internet. Their attention span is shorter than ever, they are more connected than any other generation, and they are brilliant multitaskers. Gen Z is a more tolerant generation but also more cautious; studies have found less risk-taking amongst this group and an increase in thoughtfulness and questioning authority.
So, on the one side of this coin, how do you market your company to this generation?
1. By being transparent
Be upfront about your business, what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. They have lost faith in corporations. Thus, you must stop relying on and hiding behind small print. Yes, you need terms and conditions to protect your company, but when it looks like a miracle weight-loss advert of the 80s (“Eat anything you want just take this pill. Ts&Cs apply.”), you’ll lose customers.
Related: Investing in Young Entrepreneurs
Gen Z consumers want to see you are real; they don’t want models or celebrities but regular people who can assist them in a manner that speaks to them. And they will hold your business is socially accountable. Instead of producing millions of T-shirts at the cheapest possible price, they want local, equality and free-trade, and they want to know what businesses are doing for the environment and society.
Gen Z won’t accept your claims at your word; they want to see evidence in your company culture.
2. By offering options
A jewellery purchasing study has found that most Gen Zers don’t have a preferred shopping platform. What this means is your messaging, availability and culture need to be spread evenly across all contact points – sales, call centres, website and digital advertising. In fact, many Gen Z consumers rely on mixing their contact points.
That being said, they want immediate action. If they see something they want online, they will go to the shop just to have the item right now. More than immediacy, they also want custom-made or made-to-order products and services. They shy away from traditional made-to-stock methods, which creates plenty of room in the production industry.
3. By being forward thinking
We have to always remember what was mind-blowing inventions to other generations are the norm for Gen Zers. They hold brands and businesses to high expectations, and instead of being loyal to brands, expect brands to be loyal to them. As Gen Z is more focused on individuality, they are also proving to be a generation with a high entrepreneurial output. All this shows that they don’t want the norm; they don’t crave what’s new today, they want tomorrow, sustainability and innovation, and they want it now.
On the other side of the coin, how do you attract this generation to work at your company? In much the same way.
1. By being transparent
As much as you are hiring them based on what they bring to the table, so too are they looking at what you can afford them. But, they don’t just want to hear you tell them about the benefits, they want to see it – and they are not after just money. Gen Zers want to be financially secure, but also one that is fulfilling; one where they find purpose in their jobs and company.
2. By offering options
Gen Z employees don’t want to work eight to five, they don’t want to be chained to a desk, and they don’t want to be micro-managed. Give them flexibility on how they want to conduct their work and how they can communicate with their colleagues. Create an understanding workspace for their needs and help them improve their skills – for instance, it’s been reported that a stumbling block for Gen Zers is communication. Growing up with emojis and text messages make face-to-face conversations, business calls and writing emails difficult for them.
Gen Z employees want to work hard and grow their skills. Even though they’re growing up in a super-paced society, they want to climb the corporate ranks at the given speed. What they crave, with urgency, is gaining value from their jobs.
Related: The Z Generation
3. By being forward thinking
They are lateral thinkers, and their creativity is not just outside the box but has broken the box completely. Gen Z is incredibly tech-savvy, and they will challenge the systems and procedures you have in place if these are not providing the needed speed and data required. Thus, they crave to work in an environment where they can push boundaries and ultimately help the company move forward. Hiring from the Gen Z pool can provide you with innovative insights into your business that can grow it towards tomorrow’s giants.
The only way to be sure you are future-proofing your business is by guaranteeing it caters for future customers and employees, by relying on forward-thinking enterprise resource planning software, for instance. Epicor ERP software ensures that their clients stay agile and innovative through trusting top minds to build and develop intelligent systems that open doors for Gen Zers. It’s Epicor’s innate tech-savviness that allows them to visualise the landscape of tomorrow and develop the software to support it today.
Free Sample Marketing Plan Template
You don’t need an MBA to write a marketing plan for your business. While no two businesses are alike, all solid marketing plans need to provide specific information. Use this sample marketing plan template to get you started on the right foot and cover all the essential information.
Your marketing plan should provide a comprehensive blueprint of the business, its market and associated market activity, its position in the market, target and expected customers, offerings, competition, solutions and contingency plans.
Using a sample Marketing Plan Template can save you a lot of time in creating your own marketing plan.
Download a Sample Marketing Plan Template
Use the free templates below to help make sure you’ve covered all the important bits:
Recommended Marketing Reads:
- Smart Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses
- Mega Guide to Online Marketing
- Marketing Toolbox for the Entrepreneur
- The Ultimate Marketing Tool Library for Entrepreneurs
4 Steps To Writing Content That Converts
Hook them, engage them and tell them what you want them to do.
Is your content persuasive enough to convert your visitors into leads?
Some pieces of content you create will drive conversions, while others will be lost in the archives. As a marketer, you always want to write content that is persuasive enough to turn your visitors into leads and thereafter, into paying customers.
Writing persuasive content is not magic. Let’s take a look at some ways to write content that converts.
1. Craft an enticing title
The title of your content is the most important factor that influences engagement. A whopping 8 out of 10 people may not even read your content if the title isn’t captivating enough.
Using Headline Analyzer by Coschedule is the best way to create a magnetic headline that attracts your audience. Just enter your headline and the tool will report back with a score and a grade along with some suggestions to improve.
For analysis, the tool looks at the following factors:
- The headline type: It capitalises on the type of headline that converts, including lists, how to’s and questions.
- Word balance: It helps you to curate an enticing title by checking to see if it has the right word balance.
- Character length: It also looks whether your title is scannable and easy to digest.
2. Fulfill your title’s promise
Getting clicks on your title is just half of the equation. Ensuring that your content fulfills the promise of your title is another equally, maybe even more, important part of driving conversion. If your content can’t keep the promise your headline makes, your visitors will likely abandon your site without further engagement.
When crafting each line of your content, keep in mind that the purpose is to get your visitors to read the next sentence, then the sentence after that and all the way down to the end of your article.
Aside from providing value, you’ll also want to evoke a desire for what you’re offering.
3. Make it scannable
Most of your website visitors spend less than 15 seconds on your website, meaning people quickly skim through the content instead of reading word for word.
If your content is hard to scan, meaning it contains long sentences and paragraphs, it’s likely that your visitors won’t stick around. Chances are, they’ll go to your competitors to find content that’s easier to consume.
To create content that is easily scannable, you can follow the actionable tips below:
- Short paragraphs: Write short paragraphs, preferably 3-4 sentences at most. Breaking down your content into short paragraphs makes it more digestible for your readers.
- Use attractive subheaders: Readers should be able to bounce around to seek out the pieces of your content that interest them. By using attractive subheaders, you can pique the curiosity of your readers and keep them engaged.
- Use bullet points: Using a bulleted list is the easiest way to ensure that your content doesn’t strain your visitors’ eye to read through it. Since bulleted lists stand out from the rest of your page, they make the entire piece easier to skim through.
4. Add a call to action at the end
The best way to convert your visitors into leads is to add a call to action, such as an email subscription form, at the end of every article you publish.
Some tips to speed up the growth of your email list are:
- Offer a post-specific resource: Create a post-specific resource, and offer it for download in exchange for the email address of your visitors. When the resource is post-specific, readers are more likely to engage with the campaign, in turn boosting conversions.
- Creating a premium library: To increase both perceived and actual value, you can create a premium library consisting of ebooks and other valuable course materials. You can then persuade your visitors to subscribe to your list by adding a signup box at the end of each article.
- Content gating: Content gating is a popular strategy to boost conversions on your site. For instance, you can grow your list by blocking a small section of your content for subscribers only, which encourage your readers to sign up for your list.
The best way to create content that converts is to use emotion in your copy and evoke a desire for what you’re offering. By following the above tips, you can write content that converts your visitors into leads, and soon thereafter, into paying customers.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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