I had the great fortune of attending ConFab Central 2017 last week. I’m impressed. The event was well structured, the presenters were truly talented, and I made some new friends in the business. They also kept us highly caffeinated. I could go on and on about why ConFab was fantastic, but you should see for yourself.
I’ll move forward with this: emerging reader. Those two words were embedded in LeVar Burton’s keynote. Yes, LeVar Burton, the famous actor, delivered a keynote at ConFab. Though his entire presentation was excellent, it’s the mention of the emerging reader that helped inspire this blog. During his keynote, most of his references were tied to readers and storytelling. But I found parallels between readers and customers.
So I questioned, “How is the customer like the emerging reader?” Reflecting on my own experiences in the content world, and leveraging Burton’s inspiration on the written word, I realized that emerging readers (or customers) are the ones changing the industries. Burton suggested that emerging readers changed the landscape of storytelling. The same can can be said for customers—their behavior has changed the way businesses do things.
What created the emerging customer?
Technology and the Internet. The technologies we rely on have consistently advanced for the last 10 years. Think smartphones, tablets, Google, YouTube, FaceBook—to name a handful. Those five things alone revolutionized the way people search, find, and consume content. And not just the average Jane looking for the best winery in Napa. But also high-level executives searching for solutions to their complex business problems.
What’s more, is that these technologies are always evolving. So businesses become obsessed with playing catch up—because no one wants to be left behind. These advancements in technology lead to advancements in our customers. They become more efficient, effective, and self educated in their searches. They have emerged. They have become the most prominent piece of the puzzle. And it’s a puzzle that businesses have to put together. Ever heard of the Age of the Customer? Well we’re in it. This manifestation means that businesses have to focus their efforts on the very specific demands of their customers—and they’re always changing.
How do we satisfy the emerging customer?
The options customers have are overwhelming. They end up relying on what seems best based on the value businesses bring to the table. Businesses reveal that value with content. The Havas Group suggests that 85% of people expect brands to create content. And the average person goes through about 11 pieces of content before they make a decision on what to buy, according to Forrester (Newscred, 2017).
However, value is measured differently across customers. With content, one size doesn’t fit all. That’s where buyer personas come in to play. You can use personas to determine who your customers are and how they search for solutions. Once you figure that out, tailor your content to fit those specific needs. Your content needs to resonate with your customers because they’re people, not contracts. It needs to “deliver real value and insight,” says Danny Inny, founder and CEO or Mirasee.
To deliver value in an ever-changing landscape, devise flexible content strategies that scale. Once you know who your customers are and what their search trends look like, you can create content for their needs. Your distribution strategy should also be built around those needs. Meet your customers where they’re searching (Google, LinkedIn, your website, etc.). You can also leverage SEO to help influence your customers at every stage of their journey.
The end goal is to generate positive results—for the customer and your business. But since we live in the age of the emerging customer, be prepared to consistently update your content and strategy to meet their needs.
- NewsCred. “The Five Elements of Content Marketing Success.”
- Inny, Danny. “How to go viral: 3 elements of content that resonates.”
- Dame, Nate. “How to use SEO to influence B2B buyers at every stage of the buyer’s journey,” (March 31, 2017).