Biz Tips: There’s value, and then there’s real value

Biz Tips: There’s value, and then there’s real value


There’s value, and then there’s real value

Value. This was once a term packed with meaning. It came with a revelation of how to earn trust and build relationships with customers in the digital world.

It now sounds eerily similarly to packaging label stickers in supermarkets: “big value” “2xvalue” “bonus value”.

Has digital marketing corrupted the value of “value”?

Because of how we’ve exhausted the value of this word, “value” now sits there with words like innovation and optimization. Vague marketing jargon.

What does value mean in a world where content marketers are constantly trying to outdo each other? In offering value, do we really need to do twice as much as the competition is doing? Write posts that are 2x longer? Post twice as much as everyone else? Obviously that’s a trend designed to blow up.

But that’s what tactical content marketers have been doing all this time. And why content marketing is experiencing a saturation point. Social Media Today uses a new term—“peak content”—to describe content with real value, not heavily SEO-tactic-influenced, filler-content type of value.

“with 53% of marketers now saying that content creation is their top inbound marketing priority, brands need to learn how to produce more valuable content, not simply more of it.”

So now there’s “value,” and there’s “more value” or “real value.”

The Social Media Today piece quoted above, What the Age of Peak Content Means for Brands, confirms that a lot of what we read is helpful, but a lot is also just filler content, a marketer’s attempt to meet editorial calendar goals. And audiences can tell.

The article also shares that:

In 2016, researchers from TrackMaven examined the activity of 50 million pieces of content from around 23,000 brands across six channels — Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, and blogs. The study found that brand content output had increased by 35%, while engagement with that content had decreased by 17%.

As a content marketer, I’m guilty as charged. Ever since I started doing scheduled posts for a client, I have felt more distanced from the audience. A meaningful piece per week is indeed real value, compared to 3 filler posts each day.

Based on the social media stats I’ve monitored for that client, it’s true — filler content is just a waste of time. If all you have is filler content, it’s better not to post at all.

(Then again, just because you post daily it doesn’t mean it’s less meaningful. Seth Godin does that, and all his content is meaningful and thought-provoking.)

Digital Marketing Consultant Meg advised me here on Medium:

“I think that it’s important to remember to post real-time content alongside the scheduled posts, and not to schedule too far in advance.

This avoids the risk of coming across a little robotic — often, we can sniff out a post that’s been automated a mile off!”

Entrepreneur, Coach, and Medium author Michael Simmons stayed trend-proof all this time when he stood firm with his strategy to only produce what he calls blockbuster articles (in which you spend 20 hours on creating high- value content rather than 2 hours on something that’s just “meh”).

There will be always be new marketing trends, cycles, and demands. Like fashion, most of them will come and go. Digital Marketing “experts” will tell you to post once a day if you want to grow an audience exponentially. (By the way, how can there be such a thing as a digital marketing expert when the industry morphs faster than you can master it?)

A well-written story from someone’s life experience is worth infinitely more than 5 how-to bullet points a deadline-challenged marketer came up with in 30 minutes just so a post could go up.

We need wisdom to know what has stood the test of time and how we should use it as a guide. And as for new techniques that have not been proven — proceed with caution.

In a recent Financial Times piece titled “Social Media Influencers are so last season” Author Yasmin Jones Henry shares:

“Whatever you do — don’t market yourself as an Influencer. Stick to journalism. That’s a proper craft.” This was advice I received from a fashion PR director.

The article further shares:

“Influencers” started life as brand ambassadors, but as their popularity increased, so too did their desire to diversify, straying into areas that require talent and training. Journalism, copywriting and advertising belong to the art of storytelling. As with music and design, technology has enabled many to mask their lack of genuine craftsmanship.( Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018. All rights reserved.)

Real value isn’t threatened by digital trends. Skills and professions such as storytelling and journalism have stood the test of time, through different seasons, even as new formats and platforms became available.

How can we focus on truly bringing value to our customers?

In a sense, we can go back to basics. Focus on the words and actions behind our brands. Focus on the essential — the stuff that truly matters, and how we meet our audience’s and customers’ needs in the best way possible.

1. With your words

A brand’s copywriting will reveal how much the brand knows its audience. Know your audience better every day and continually tweak your words to resonate with them. Use the words they use, and not the words you want to use. And take time to find unique words, not an echo of every marketer’s words.

An hour of market research is worth more than 1,000 rushed content pieces.

Use the skill of writing to surprise, delight, and differentiate. Don’t copy-paste. Hire writers who can bring a fresh tone to your brand. Copycat writing sticks out and leaves a bad taste.

Outdoing competition, content-wise, should not be the goal. Comprehensive and frequent content means nothing if you do not have the genuine desire to get to know and serve your audience.

Your words are crucial to building relationships and having meaningful conversations whether on your website, in social media, email, or face-to-face.

2. With your actions

Listen to your audience’s public conversations. Spend time on social media not just to check your stats, but to feel the pulse of your market.

You may have a large market, so it’s even more meaningful when you do some deliberate actions for individuals.

Be consistent and timely in your communication. Your actions should match what you say.

Give before asking.

Go the extra mile — the hotel industry is a great inspiration here. Provide extra help and small surprises that the guest did not ask for. It may be costly initially, but when your customer lasts 5–10 years, the cost pays for itself and multiplies returns.

Quality always wins. One of the things the content marketing game corrupted was quality. Writers (like me) got sloppy trying to run after deadlines and publishing goals. Quantity is supposed to support quality, not corrupt it.

3. Focus on the essential

So far, things that have stood the test of time in the digital world are the good old values that worked in the world before digital. Real value is built to last.

Define what value means to you as a businessman, creator, or servant of the people, and don’t let it become jargon in your world.

We’ve gone through many cycles of digital marketing trends, but in the end the basics are still standing. The 4 Ps — product, price, place, promotion. Product is still the #1 value that matters.

Marketing, at its core, is about having a great product people love. You know it’s a great product when your customers don’t see you as a sales person, and they love you for making that product and enriching their lives.

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