January 21st, 2016

As much as we love launching a new brand, rebrand or website, there is always a feeling of anxiety much akin to watching a child toddle off on their first day of school. You have primed them as best you can, now it is up to them to learn, grow and become a beautiful, friendly, helpful person by themselves (or with a little help).

To be a successful brand, the journey doesn’t end when an agency hand over a set of brand guidelines and an invoice. The real growth is in how you communicate with your audience and engagement building with your target audience from that point onwards. And this can often be the tricky part, and the part that can get forgotten about once the dust settles after the launch hype.

We don’t want to take you down the tired, old “Content is King” route. We know you know this, but how is content marketing changing in 2016? We work, play, live, move, breathe in such a content saturated world, your brand needs to be talking to your audience, at the right time, in the right places, but perhaps most importantly in the right tone.

Assuming you’ve done the work to define your audience, and your brand tone of voice, getting the dots to join to create an engaging rapport with your customers comes down to a few things:

Be age-agnostic

For too long there has been too much emphasis on target groups defined by age. “Millennials” are often a target audience group with anyone born between 1980 and 2000. A school-going teen who likes comics is lumped with a 36 year banker with two kids and a dog. In other ages groups, an 80 year old Grandad can be more tech savvy than his 20 year old grandson who is an expert in antique coins. Do you catch my drift? Stereotypes are dissolving.

Personas can only give you so much to go on, but addressing your audience demographic in terms of their shared passions, values and hobbies will mean you can build a relationship that is much more authentic.

Be useful

Marketers are predicting one of the main trends we will see in 2016 will be a major shift from content being shouty and nonsensical, to things that actually add value to people’s lives.

The rise of ad-blocking will have a big impact on this. For a brand to really stand out and cut the crap of the digitally saturated world, there needs to be some purpose to their content, based on their audience’s specific mindsets and values.

If you can create something that a person you want to connect with actually needs, embraces and adds something to their day-to-day life, that could make the difference to someone being a user and an advocate. There’s no better marketing than having someone, a fan, customer or ambassador, do the promoting for you.

Be human

Marketing is about connecting humans with other humans in some form or another, so start there. And User Experience isn’t just about your customer’s journey on your website – it begins the moment they click on your site, like your facebook post, or pick up the phone to make an appointment.

And it doesn’t really end. Ever. Once you finish a sale, or interaction with that particular person, they should be able to continue communicating with your brand. This may be through helpful emails about upcoming offers, or a card at Christmas. Or even a follow up “how-did-we-do” call or email. Use this to build rapport with your warmest leads. Be a human face to your brand, not a robotic one.

In conclusion

We recommend figuring out the channels where you audience is active, what formats do they digest content in, how do they interact with other people in the community. By listening and learning you can gain a whole lot more insight than looking at a bunch of numbers on an excel sheet.

In short: value your audience as people, and give them more value to their lives. The big brands are getting fully on board with this, replacing the role Marketing Director, with Customer Director, putting customers at the heart.

So, going back to our little ‘brand-child’ in her first day of school and the big wide world. We want her to learn from others around her, she needs to be empathetic to do this, and she needs to be herself – not a robot. By helping people, listening and growing as the times change, she’ll develop as a leader with a message people will want to hear and keep listening to.

How to communicate with your audience