Making Waves’ Content Services department invited content marketing expert John Hayes to Krakow to learn more about the current trends in content creation. Anja Wedberg and Carlos Rubens report from a full day of seminars on email marketing, social media and user generated content, served with a heap of entertaining anecdotes on the side.
Good marketing solves problems
The aim of the day was to highlight constructive marketing strategies that can be used to create compelling content in a simple but engaging language. The core of the session can be summarised in one basic idea: good marketing is useful by solving a problem or fulfilling a need. The driving force behind successful marketing must always be usefulness, not profitable customer actions. Hence the goal of content marketing is to be engaging. People buy from people they like and can identify with, not from a brand or a logo.
Good marketing is free
The internet has opened up a multitude of fresh possibilities to carry out effective marketing at a very low cost – even at no cost at all. In Hayes’ words, ”there is no such thing as expensive or cheap marketing. There’s only marketing that works and marketing that doesn’t work”. Excessive planning will take you nowhere: if you maintain an agile attitude, it is even possible to come up with a business idea in the morning and launch a company in the afternoon.
Perhaps the most obvious example of a recent marketing campaign that went viral is the philanthropic blockbuster the Ice Bucket Challenge. Based on a simple idea with no actual investments in place, the campaign catapulted the ALS Association’s resources from a monthly budget of approximately 120,000 USD to over 100 million and counting, according to this Forbes magazine article, while at the same time raising awareness of the neurodegenerative disorder Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.
Good email marketing is targeted
One of the highlights during the day was Hayes’ take on email marketing. Using emails for commercial purposes has a varied reputation as it is often associated with spam, but if it is done in the right way, email marketing may be our best tool for retaining existing customers. The right way means that we have to follow the basic rule above about usefulness. Most importantly, the emails have to be targeted (i.e. only sent to those who have shown an interest in the product) and contain well-written, relevant information. It is better to send six short emails with one subject per email to selected segments of an email list, rather than lumping everything together in one overloaded newsletter. It goes without saying that certain practices have to be avoided, such as buying email lists and sending out emails just because it’s 11.00 o’clock on the second Tuesday of the month.
Targeted email marketing belongs neither to the past nor the future, it is very much here and now. Many people invest too heavily in social media marketing, probably because they think they have to, and seem unaware that in terms of ROI, a well-targeted email campaign has a considerably higher conversion rate. People don’t go on social media to buy things but rather to be distracted. The message is quite clear: we should use social media to connect with our customers and emails to boost our sales.
How to create satisfaction
It is very assuring that good marketing should be engaging and solve a problem to the user, but isn’t that easier said than done? What is the secret behind compelling content? Well, says Hayes, there are good stories everywhere – the tricky part is to capture them. Ideas rarely appear when we want them to, and most likely, they will not pop up when we stare into our laptop screen. Quite on the contrary, staring into our Facebook feed may well have the opposite effect. Use a computer to produce content, but go out and have a good time to get fresh ideas, and use dead time to read and perform tasks that do not require a lot of thinking.
Music and the arts may be the best fields to observe the dynamics of the conception of ideas. A classic example is how Keith Richards created the catchy guitar riff in the Rolling Stones’ monster hit Satisfaction. Richards has admitted that he has no recollection of writing the song. He simply woke up one day and realised that his recorder had played until the end of the tape. After rewinding it, he played the tape and heard himself playing the famous riff, which he must have recorded the night before. The anecdote illustrates the importance of pressing the record button at the right moment – never tell yourself that you will write something down the next day, or when you get home, or the next time you’re in front of your computer. If an idea pops into your head, capture it immediately: send yourself a text message or an email or make use of the note function in your smartphone.
The training left us with many valuable ideas and concrete tips on how to be more useful, more targeted and more compelling in our daily work.
About John Hayes
A Scotsman born in Germany, John Hayes gained five years working experience in Hungary before settling down in the north of England. His field of expertise is content marketing and he is the author of three books on the subject: “Becoming the Expert”, “In Email Marketing” and “Bricks & Mortar Oughta”. He holds content marketing boot camps in England, including at the Guardian newspaper’s masterclass sessions, and in different places in Europe.
Learn from the experts: follow John Hayes at Becoming the expert and listen to Keith Richards and the story of the Satisfaction guitar riff here.Photo: Spector1/Flickr