For many, marketing has become a dirty word, synonymous with manipulative messages, aggressive sales tactics, and poorly written content that has no real purpose. Marketing is in desperate need of a makeover.
For businesses to be successful, they need to ask: “How can I help you?” not “What can I sell you?” The days of broadcasting into the abyss are over. It’s time to build valuable connections and start purposeful conversations with our audiences.
We’re out for a more joyful web, and that always comes back to valuable, authentic communication. Here’s how we can change the way the world views marketing.
Bust Marketing Myths for Good
Before we stomp off into the giddy great heights of authentic human connection, there are some key misconceptions about marketing that we’d love to banish from your brains for good. These are:
- Marketing is expensive
- Marketing doesn’t give me return on my investment
- I need a flashy ad campaign to have any kind of impact
- Content is king… so I must produce ALL THE CONTENT
- SEO and CRO are dark arts that I will never understand
Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail…
Marketing Doesn’t Have to be Expensive to be Effective
That marketing is expensive is one of the biggest misconceptions we hear from business owners. A lot of business owners tell us they have invested heavily and got very little in return. Many have been told they need to put hundreds or even thousands behind Google Adwords or Programmatic campaigns to get seen, and even then it’s like blowing into the wind.
What’s more, some agencies will charge extortionate day rates to have a junior marketing executive churn out social media posts with no data or strategy to guide them. This is common, and it’s one of the main reasons we became disenfranchised with the industry, and why we started The Joyful Web.
Social posts provoke an emotional response in less than a second, which means that by the time your viewer blinks, they’ve given your content a pass or a fail. Quality, not ad spend, is the most important factor of successful marketing.
You Have Something to Say, Your People Want to Hear It
It’s extremely common for businesses not to know who they’re talking to. A vague idea or a half-formed, generalised persona is not enough.
You need to know your audiences like you know your friends. They are your people, and they want to be communicated with in a way that shows you really get them, and that you care. This is what builds loyal communities of engaged customers, and why some brands become global sensations while others are left feeling as though they’re shouting into the void.
We know you have something worth saying, it’s why you started your business in the first place. When you bring everything back to that purpose, and align your marketing messages with your values and those of your audiences, you’ll start to have valuable conversations that create a feedback loop. It’s in this sweet spot that authentic communication happens. You can use the voices of your audience not just as a guide for your marketing, but for the development of your products or services too.
Content Isn’t King
You may have heard the expression ‘content is king’ being bandied around the marketing industry like a particularly vigorous game of hacky sack.
It gives the impression that all you have to do to be successful in business is to create a lot of content. What fooey. More content means more noise, and I’m sure we can all agree that the internet is noisy enough.
No, content isn’t king, your audience is. And every single piece of content you create needs to speak to an individual and their specific needs. To do that, you need to know:
- Who you’re talking to
- What you want them to take away from your content
- What you want them to do with that information
- Why they should care
You’ll notice that we talk about authentic messaging and purpose a lot. To put this into context, imagine you’re having a conversation with someone who really obviously wants something from you. They’re not listening to what you’re saying because they’re so wrapped up in getting their intended outcome, and so the conversation feels completely one-sided and a touch aggressive. How does that make you feel?
It’s the same with marketing. If your audience doesn’t resonate with your messages, they’ll quickly tune out. Or worse, they’ll write your brand off as just another business doing “blah” that doesn’t relate to them. People don’t want to be sold to, no matter how cleverly covert your message may be. And they don’t want to spend their time consuming content that doesn’t in some way enhance their lives.
Create less content, and focus on making the content you do create the absolute best it can be. Creating one exceptional, well-researched and well-written blog post that attracts 5000 readers is a better use of your time than creating ten blogs that attract 500 readers. Find an angle that hasn’t already been explored, ask your audience what they care about and need right now, and use their insights to guide the story.
Digital Marketing Is Not That Complicated
You don’t need to understand the “wizardry” that is SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and CRO (Conversion Rate Optimisation) to be effective in your marketing. While these practices are important, they’re not the dark and complicated art many believe they are.
The days of keyword stuffing and frantic backlink building are over. And this is good news, because there’s nothing authentic about those old hat marketing practices. When we shift from keywords being the focus of content marketing to using keyword research to provide insight into real people, their lives and what they’re looking for online, we can identify genuine opportunities and bring purpose and fun into how we communicate.
Google’s algorithms have long been using semantic search to serve audiences with appropriate content. Through concept matching, synonyms and natural language processing, Google’s search capabilities are mind-blowingly intuitive and responsive. This brings an enhanced understanding of audience intent, delivering more personalised content results.
Put simply, Google is looking for websites that demonstrate authority around specific subjects and concepts. It’s this authority that will make you visible in search engine results. So, the deeper you delve into a subject, creating purposeful, high-quality content people love to engage with, and when you link that content to further the story, the more likely Google is to recognise you as an expert in your field. Then, when someone searches for a related topic, Google is more likely to serve your content.
Here’s an example of what we mean. At the centre is a comprehensive blog post on a topic (let’s say ‘Marketing Needs a Makeover’ and then this links to blog posts on a variety of sub-topics (such as how to get to know your audiences, or how to create a basic social media strategy):
Digital marketing doesn’t have to be that complicated. Once you understand who you are as a business, what you want to say and who you’re saying it to, marketing simply becomes a way to talk about the subjects you and your audience are most excited about. And the more you have conversations about those subjects, the more you’ll be associated with them, and the more people you’ll reach.
It’s All About Communication, Baby
Communication is the most fundamentally human thing about us. It’s how we evolved. We weren’t stronger or quicker or more skilled than any other homo species, we simply knew how to communicate further, and better, than other tribes. And that hasn’t changed in all these millennia.
Now more than ever, people are crying out for connection and community. We believe businesses have a huge opportunity to support their audiences like never before. We’re looking out into a brave new world, and we are each responsible for where we go from here.
If we can bring everything back to authentic communication, and build conscious businesses that engage, support and create more conscious customers, we’re not only changing the way businesses communicate in the world, we’re changing the world.
Marketing needs a makeover, and so does the way the world does business. And it all comes back to this fundamental question: “How can I help you?”
Want to hear us talk more about why marketing needs a makeover?
Watch the conversation that inspired this blog: