As you’re reading this post, there’s an overabundance of content screaming to get noticed online. In fact, every minute, people publish 1,400 new blog posts, send 150,000 emails, share 3.3 million pieces of content on Facebook, and upload a total of 500 hours of video to YouTube. Every minute.
Attention means money, which means there’s a relentless competition going on to get noticed.
Welcome to the war for attention.
Why the Most Successful Brands Stand Out
Because people have so many choices and less time, they’re forced to choose whose message to pay attention to. Is it going to be yours?
To ensure that your message and your brand cut through the noise and get in front of your audience, you have to gain and hold their attention with great content.
The laws for winning the war for attention are universal. You see them at work in renowned brands like Tony Robbins, Harvard Business Review, Disney, XERO, Microsoft, Dale Carnegie, Alan Weiss, Marcus Buckingham, Drucker, Porter, Lafely, Tim Ferris, Apple, Marketo, Salesforce, Moz.com, Kochie, Oprah, and Nigella Lawson.
What do these brands have in common?
1. They are number 1 in a niche they have defined.
Whether you’re managing a law firm, an aged care or healthcare facility, or a professional services business, you know that there’s bound to be someone doing the same business as you are down the street.
There are potentially hundreds of businesses competing to get your potential customers’ attention. To ensure the right audience hears your message, narrowly define what you do.
To identify your niche, determine what you’re good at. Ask your finest customers what your best product/service feature is. Do some market research so you can determine your target audience and their specific pain points that your business can solve.
2. They provide purpose and direction to a tribe.
If you’re saying you’re targeting “anyone who has a wallet”, then it’s time for you to rethink about this aspect of your business. It won’t do well for you to appeal to absolutely everyone. This will just be a waste of your dollars.
You need to narrowly define who you do it for. Lead and provide a purpose to a tribe, a group of people who are connected to a leader, to an idea.
While this doesn’t mean you’ll be dismissing those do not fit the criteria you’d set, having a clear target audience allows you to focus your marketing budget and message on a specific group of people that’s interested and passionate about what you can provide.
3. They focus on a consistent personal experience.
Brands that have best-in-class customer experiences distinguish themselves from their competitors. They get that how businesses serve customers is as important as what they serve.
Here are facts and statistics about customer experience you shouldn’t ignore:
- 75% customers expect a consistent experience wherever they engage, whether on the website, on social media, on mobile, or in person (Salesforce)
- 72% of customers who had a positive experience will tell 6 or more others (Kolsky via HuffingtonPost), but 48% of them who weren’t delighted will tell 10 or more others (Harvard Business Review)
Customers favour brands that understand them and care for them. So if you want to improve your customer experience, start by building relationships. Ensure that the journey from end to end is personalised and customer-centric.
4. They answer the “so what” and the “how” and the “why”.
Consumer-facing companies like Amazon, Google, and Netflix know what it takes to keep customers. Their secret? They provide them with great, relevant information.
Create content that educates your audience. To provide depth of information to your customers, use your owned media. Take advantage of your website, blog, explainer videos, and emails.
5. They provide content with escalating value.
Brands that captivate their audience tailored a set of steps a prospect needs to go through before becoming a customer. This is called a funnel.
Further down the funnel, nurture them with an increasingly bigger content, like an ebook or a copy of a presentation.
And when they are ready to be customers, you can let them buy bigger and bigger pieces of product that have increasing value as well.
6. They use or promote other leaders.
Big content producers like Harvard Business Review, Salesforce, Oprah, and Seth Godin partner with other leaders in the space. They are not afraid to share the stage with other people.
Don’t just make it about yourself. Make it about providing for your tribe by allowing other leaders to contribute.
7. They offer free or freemium content.
Offering free or freemium content to your customers deepens your connection with them. It raises brand awareness and boosts your credibility and thought leadership. It can also serve as an introduction to your premium offering and raise its value.
And while it’s good to provide free content, what would make it even better is for you to personalise your offering. Because not all customers want the same information, ensure that you have a personalisation strategy that will help you effectively define what type of content goes out to which customer segment.
8. They are consistent with their positioning.
Positioning is the single, strongest, most persuasive thought or idea you want to own in your customers’ minds. Brand positioning helps form customers’ views and opinions about your business.
Brand positioning transpires even if you haven’t really thought about it. But being proactive about your brand’s position can make a positive impact in your customers’ minds. This will guide you when you create your customer messaging and inform your value proposition.
9. They let their best customers participate.
There is much to gain from encouraging your customers to participate. Any involvement is a way to cement their loyalty to your brand. Sharing your content or your brand on social media increases your brand visibility and boosts the overall brand affection.
To encourage participation, give them memorable and standout experiences that will drive them to share it online or via word of mouth. Create a thriving community where they can share, ask questions, and learn about your brand.
10. They experiment (and show their work).
Customers respond to new disruptive trends. And with this comes a change in their expectations, behaviours, habits, and preferences. If your business remains the same, ignoring disruption, while the rest of the world shifts, you lose.
Experimentation helps businesses manage uncertainties with their new products. It’s through trial-and-error experiments and tests that you can unlock innovation.
11. They productise and sell the invisible.
Selling the invisible is becoming more important as more businesses break down barriers and move their offerings into web-based, 24/7 solutions. The difficulty is that without a tangible demo or something that people can engage with, how do you describe and sell your service?
The goal of productisation is to package an offering, technology or service so that a customer can understand the content of it in advance.
Here are some of the key things you can do:
- Be clear about your service’s features, functions, and benefits
- Build a lot of relevant content about the offering
- If there is a process for onboarding, think about what clients can expect
- Simplify pricing. Published pricing lowers barriers to entry and removes tire kickers. Use at least the minimum price people want to spend
- Forget jargons. Use easy-to-understand terms in explaining your service
- Provide case studies to demonstrate how your service helped other clients
- Build in systems that are easier to scale
12. They invest in technology, marketing, and people.
If you want to stay close to your customers and offer them value, invest in a website that’s optimised for visitors, a marketing automation that works best for your business, and content that draws people in and pushes them forward. You also need to ensure that you have the right people in your organisation and that you invest in their training and development.
Your business is in a battle to capture your target audience’s attention. For your business to stand out, be customer-centric. Define what you do, who you do it for, and how you do it. Give your customers depth of information. Provide value. Share the space with other leaders. Be consistent with your brand positioning. Experiment. Productise your service. And lastly, invest in technology, marketing, and people.
Robert Steers is the Head of Digital at Step Change. He is a digital leader with over 15 years’ experience in digital transformation projects and acquisition campaigns. A catalyst for art and science, Robert has delivered impressive results for clients including a 60x increase in engagement across the ASX 200 and a $0 to $1m/yr acquisition campaign for toilet paper. With experience ranging from B2B channel marketing to B2C ecommerce programs, Robert has worked with global brands such as Jeep, Johns Manville, Grays Online, United Colors of Benetton, LJ Hooker, Konica Minolta, Ray White, and York Fitness.