Published: 20 January 2015
In this virtual world of ours, snake oil merchants predominate. If you were holding out for a hero, prepare to have your patience rewarded. DAVE THACKERAY is here to deliver the lowdown on how to build an incredible presence for your business online...
When I was young, (sing it - "I never needed anyone...") I was a journalist. I was a journalist for a very long time beyond being young, and what this era in my career instilled in a younger Dave was the importance of mindreading.
Just as Steve Jobs knew - and Buzzfeed knows today as high priestess of manipulating big data - you need to be so instinctive about their needs that you know them before they do.
But what do we, now as consumers, want? We want easy lives. We want smarter, speedier, smilier. We want to rub out our to do lists so we can get on with the serious business of fun. In fact with attention spans shrinking faster than our new year's resolutions, we want instant gratification all the time.
As business owners and marketing experts it's our job to make our customers' lives as perfect as possible. That means instead of being merely brands and shops, we need to be intriguing, inspiring, educating and entertaining. Just as the BBC once was.
People are frightened by what some pompous authorities call 'content shock'. Loosely speaking that's the fact the web has a lot of information on it, and contributing to the ever-growing fount of knowledge will just see you vanish into the morass.
Frankly, this is bobbins. I always refer back to that fantastic article called 1,000 True Fans as proof that anyone worth their salt can create a locked-in community simply by being trustworthy, respected and respectful, and deeply committed to the group of customers they so selflessly serve.
These days you don't have to be a direct descendant of Buddha to be a thought leader or renowned expert. We can accomplish this previously totemic feat by unravelling the mysteries of content creation and curation. We need to recognise both our customers' pain points and fantasies. We should use all the tools at our disposal relevant to our customers to achieve that. Facebook advertising, email marketing, face to face communication. This is but a blog post so we're only addressing the tip of the iceberg so far.
Let's go underwater.
Conquer thought leadership
There are two ways to impress your expertise: create content from scratch, or provide valuable insight into information already out there. Some people are looking for producers, others, curators.
Curation always gets funny looks. I have people asking me all day long the merits of us giving our own perspective on the work of others. Jonathan Ross didn't get where he is today by making movies. Giles Coren, though a twit, wouldn't earn his humungous salary if he was working in the kitchen.
Your voice is what separates you from everyone else. Your unique take on the world around you is the most valuable component of who you are.
In my day job advising people via the web to change their habits and get more active, I lean upon the best in the business to be meaningful.
And the abundance of content many dismiss as a disadvantage is, for us curators, a huge asset. There's a wellspring of content out there. You couldn't expect one man to sift through it, unless that guy was me. And as marketers we all need to perform that miraculous feat as ringmaster and chief curation officer.
But irrespective of whether you're building your own hub of information or simply analysing the content generated by others, you need to start somewhere.
We've never had it so good when it comes to finding things to talk about as emerging thought leaders.
Technology is our best friend.
It both provides the content, and the tools to help us pan for the gold.
Talkwalker is my right-hand resource. Setting up alerts when keywords and key phrases show up in the world's blogs is fabulous. Mention is another great tool.
Feedly is where my chief inspirations live. I set up a Must Reads folder of everything that's precious to me, then I rifle through all my folders set up in such a way I can go from top to bottom in a few minutes, assessing quickly from the blog post headlines whether to dive in or not.
Another always-on asset when it comes to creating the kind of content not only that your customers need, but the search engines require so your customers can find it more easily, is moz.com. My gateway drug of choice to their fine work is a multimedia article called How To Provide Unique Value In Your Content which is displayed in both text and video forms as one of their weekly Whiteboard Friday escapades.
Talking about being found: social media is a great way to expound the virtues of your expertise as thought leader, and Hubspot has an excellent guide on managing your accounts in 10 minutes a day.
I mentioned Facebook advertising. In my mind this is the year's most powerful way of generating traffic. Tweet me if you want some advice on how to make it work for you, and I'll also tell you why it's especially effective when you use it to create subscribers to your newsletter - and how to do it.
Don't neglect Facebook advertising to find new people to learn from your wisdom and ultimately become your paying customers.
Email marketing and Facebook advertising are my big plays for 2015. MailChimp offers some great and free how-to resources while Jon Loomer is the Facebook advertising whizz kid.
Slideshare is a great place to field your biggest ideas, and LinkedIn Pulse lets you publish your monumental inspirations and ideologies for the rabid consumers of our #1 business networking site to devour.
Finally, never neglect your own website. Corral the finest, set up a digest, and alert those who value your thoughts using email marketing. MailChimp even offers an RSS to email option automating this part of your job.
I wrote a book about all this stuff back in 2012 Sharing Superheroes. Despite being entirely about digital marketing it's surprisingly relevant still.
Content creation and curation is a deadly weapon in the right hands. Scheduling and automation - and being there to answer follow-up questions - is the secret sauce of taking people down the AIDA route, fellow marketing geeks, to monetize your efforts.
Go forth and come back tell us how you got on!
Former journalist, editor and company owner Dave is now the web and social media officer at WLCT, a charity operating leisure services for councils. After years making his way through the marketing maze he decided to go back to basics and learn how to do it properly with Professional Academy and CIM. Follow his progress on this blog and feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter to ask about his experiences.
If you would like to Join Dave on a CIM Marketing Qualification Course you can contact Professional Academy for some advice or Download a copy of the Marketing Prospectus today.
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