At GBS, we love when innovative guest speakers and collaborators from all walks of life drop by our different campuses to lead conferences and run workshops with our students, and share their experience and expertise about a diverse range of new business topics, trends and technologies.
With so many interesting events having so far been held within our walls, we thought we’d share what these collaborators have taught us and our students with you, our followers. Moreover, to give you the best taste of what our wonderful guests brought to our table, we asked them to share their experience in their own words.
Thus begins our new series of guest blogs! For our first edition, we’d like to introduce George Chilton, Creative Director and co-owner of Hubbub Labs - a content marketing agency for startups and education companies based in Barcelona, Spain, who led a fascinating workshop on content marketing last month. Enjoy!
I was lucky enough to be invited to Geneva Business School’s Barcelona campus to present a workshop on content marketing on behalf of my company, Hubbub Labs.
My aim was to present a practical workshop, with plenty of hands-on activities and participation from the students - and they didn’t disappoint me. I was very impressed with their knowledge of the social media environment, marketing channels and the issues companies face when marketing online.
So what is content marketing overload?
First, we began by discussing what content overload means. We decided it was the phenomenon of feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information online and the problem of fake news, clickbait and poor quality distractions.
At a glance we discovered that there were:- 69 million blog posts on Wordpress in November
- Approximately 5 million podcast episodes on iTunes
- And that we watch around 100 million hours of Facebook video a day
These numbers are just an indication of how much is happening online - and highlight just how difficult it is for brands to make an impact with their content in such a noisy ecosystem.
We then looked at the benefits of content marketing, covering Search Engine Optimisation, branding, awareness building, reputation management, community building, among others. We also discovered that around 84 percent of people expect brands to create decent content.
This naturally led us to the question: what can brands do to stand out? And Victoria’s class had plenty of ideas for me.
We talked about the value of content - how it can help us and make our lives better - and quite the opposite!
I illustrated this concept with a simple matrix that showed the progression of value online - from zero value and no delight for the audience in the bottom left corner, through to valuable and fun-to-consume content in the top right. It is the latter that content marketers have to aim for consistency.
So how can we do this and create content that makes a real impact?
The answer comes in three parts.
- Getting to know the content funnel
Content strategists first need to understand what a marketing funnel is. Effectively, it’s a series of steps a customer takes before buying a product or signing up for a service. It represents the “buyer’s journey” from awareness through to purchase.
As I just mentioned, the first stage of the funnel is awareness - that is, when a customer comes to know about your company, product or service. Content marketers need to think about how to generate content that will catch the attention of their target customers on social media.
The second stage is engagement, where the customer starts to read, like, share or comment on your content. For this to happen, it has to be both valuable and fun to consume.
Next comes the consideration phase. As the customer becomes comfortable, the marketeer can then offer more tailored content, ads, newsletters or other content to help them see the value, unique selling point and other key information needed before spending money.
After conversion (signing up, purchasing, etc.), the final job of a content marketer is to provide useful content to entice that customer to keep coming back.
- Building customer profiles
It’s key not to fall into the trap of trying to please everybody with your content. If you try to do that, what you produce will be ineffective, unfocused and spammy. If you’re not sure what I meant, just imagine trying to sell a lawn mower to a 5-year-old.
The best place to start, then, is with a set of well-researched customer avatars - also known as buyer personas or customer profiles. These are designed to accurately reflect your target customers or audience so that you may write directly to them, answering their questions, solving their problems and even selling your product or service.
For your customer profiles to be truly accurate, it’s a good idea to talk to them, survey them and get their feedback on regular basis. Tools like Typeform can help you achieve this fairly easily.
- Understanding your customers’ context
We also looked at the importance of customer context - first, knowing where they are in the buyer’s journey (funnel), and how some content only makes sense at a certain time. You wouldn’t try to make someone read a long-form article while driving a car. A podcast, on the other hand, might be very effective. That’s why it’s essential we understand our customer routines, their needs, how they like to consume content and where they tend to get it from (i.e. which social networks or websites)
We then touched on the Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) theory, developed at Harvard Business School by Clayton M. Christensen, Taddy Hall, Karen Dillon, and David S. Duncan. In a nutshell, the theory expresses why it’s important to know what our customers want to achieve with our products, services and content - what jobs they want to do. This helps us understand how to market it. If we focus too much on who we miss the essential motivations and context that drive purchases. Read more about this on this on HBR.
Finally, my presentation went into some essential writing tips and advice, which I outline in more detail in my extensive guide How to Write a Viral Blog Post.
I’d like to extend my thanks to Victoria Masters and her bright, enthusiastic students - and to Geneva Business School for inviting me!