This photo is from martinstabe's photostream on Flickr.
As writer of this blog and because of my past and present experience, I have the privilege of talking to a lot of people about how to market their products and services. And lately it seems I'm doing a lot of coaching for start ups. (Lucky me!)
Here are my words of wisdom.
I like to divide the discipline of marketing up in to 2 big buckets. See above.
1 ) The first bucket is content - what you're going to say.
2) The second bucket is the tools you can use. This bucket includes both promotional tools, like email, direct mail, advertising, PR, etc. and community building tools, like some blogs (mine is not a good example), Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, etc.
Both of these buckets must be viewed and approached through the lens of a customer (see the guy with book) or in the case of communal tools - a member. But this is a WHOLE other subject for another day.
Today I want to talk a little about bucket 1 - content - because this is the beast that is often overlooked and may make or break your marketing efforts. Why? Because regardless of the tools you use to connect with others, if you have nothing to say you will never succeed.
(Note: I'm using customer and member here as universal code for "the people you want to reach." So customer can mean different things to you.)
Content comes in two distinct forms.
Promotional content like radio commercials, advertisements in the Yellow Page or an e-newsletter often have the tenor of a "pitch," i.e. I am the seller and you are the reader and my job is to tell you about me in the hopes that you will act on this information.
Communal content, on the other hand, is about having a conversation and has much more of an educational tone. Types of content that fall into this category are whitepapers, webinars, teleseminars, blog posts and Twitter feeds.
A caveat: This is a false dichotomy. Some ads spark questions and conversation and there are many Facebook profiles that look like they were created by a traditional car salesman! However, the point is that you need a mix of both types and if you have to choose - choose to create communal content.
Here's how you do it.
1) You've got to have some expertise and passion in your subject area. This is a no-brainer but is so often overlooked! If you don't know or care much about what you sell, it will be hard to stay motivated to share information about these topics. Worse, you'll be spreading misinformation.
2) You've got to have time to think, connect and converse! This is a huge issue for anyone who develops content on a regular basis (trust me) and you would be very wise to include these capacities (both time and personnel) in your marketing plan.
3) You've got to have the right media for the job. (See bucket 2 above.) Different media require and attract different content. For example, you can't showcase your editorial and educational content via an ad. Too expensive. Instead you'd be better off using a blog. And you can't pitch via your Twitter feed. NO ONE WILL LISTEN! This is better left to a print ad.
In summary, marketing is about both content and tools. You need both to do the job right. However, all content is not all created equal. To build content that adds value, showcases your good thinking and enables you to be part of the communities your cherish you need the time, talent and passion to feed the beast.