The digital world has brought many facilities for entrepreneurs: the ability to communicate with customers around the world, the power to direct their messages to their exact target audience (something that other media could not promote), and the accessibility of tools that fit the budget of even small businesses.
With these facilities comes, also, the greatest difficulty of the digital world: the amount of information and competition for attention on the networks. Research conducted by scientists at the University of California shows that today’s Internet users receive 74 GB of information per day on the most diverse devices, which is equivalent to 16 movies. Five hundred years ago 74GB was the amount of information a person received in a lifetime!
In a world in constant competition for attention, the challenge for entrepreneurs is: how to stand out from the crowd? As with all complex problems, there is no simple and trivial answer to this, but a set of practices that have proven successful in many companies and that with persistence and attention can work for your business as well.
Even today you may have come across many advertisements, ads, and other content that are irrelevant to you, and have therefore been ignored. But there are rare moments on the Internet when you see that one ad and think “this is exactly what I need”. When this happens it means that the brand has managed to discover your pain, your moment, and has managed to communicate with you in a way that generated identification and made you consider buying what was advertised.
The success of such a campaign depends on two factors: the success in building the product and a good application of a marketing strategy. In this article, I will deal especially with the marketing strategy, although some factors apply to the product strategy as well.
1. Have a Purpose:
Great brands differentiate themselves because they have a great purpose. What makes Nike different from all other brands in the market is its purpose to show that we all can be athletes. This purpose will guide all the company’s actions and give an idea to its client of the brand’s representativeness and what differentiates it from all the others. This happens also with Apple making products that challenge the status quo, that are different and built for those who think differently, this gives a perception about the brand very different from just a company that makes computers and cell phones. In summary, the first step to standing out is to have a very clear and demonstrable purpose for your customers.
2. Understand your Customer’s Pain:
You will never be able to sell a product that does not solve people’s problems. To understand exactly what the problem is, you need to understand their point of view. Create strategies to understand what your clients are going through, how they are solving problems at the moment, what they miss. Contact potential customers, ask them about what they are experiencing, go to the places where your customers go, observe what they are doing, what their behaviors are. Try to do the things they are doing and see for yourself how difficult the process is. Only from the moment, you understand your customer can you build products of value and communicate assertively with your audience.
3. Create Personas:
When we communicate, we do it for someone. When I send a letter it has a recipient, when I talk to someone the message is specific to that person or group I am talking to. This is the same for books, advertisements, classes, and all kinds of communication, there will always be a receiver of the message as a target. But how do I know who I am talking to online?
For this, the concept of a persona was created. A persona is a fictional person to whom you assign the characteristics of your target audience. Let’s suppose that my target is small entrepreneurs, if I know my potential customer well I will know that he is between 30 and 40 years old, is mostly female, lives in medium to large cities. I should also know what their problems are and what they go through: they have difficulties with technology, don’t have much money to invest in the business, etc.
Thinking about this information I will create one or more personas that will represent the whole spectrum of clients I have. I will give her a name, an age, a history, and a series of problems and challenges that she needs to overcome. That way, when I create an article, a post, or ads, I will be talking to this person, bringing a much more concrete idea of who is receiving this message.
4. Build your Customer’s, Buying Journey:
With your customer profile identified, you can build a buying journey. But what does this mean? A buying journey is a map that helps you think about what your customer goes through from the moment he realizes he has a problem until the moment of purchase. and this process is mapped out by three stages:
Awareness stage: The customer knows he has a problem, realizes that something is bothering him and that he needs to improve, for example, an entrepreneur realizes that the accounts are very close to not closing at the end of the month. At this stage, he still does not know how to define exactly what the problem is, but he will search for additional information that will help him understand what is happening, such as articles, influencers, analysis, courses, books.
Consideration stage: The customer understands well what the problem is, knows how to define what is happening, and is looking for approaches, proposals, and solutions to solve this problem. For example, the entrepreneur realizes that the increase in competition has made his marketing strategy obsolete and ineffective, reducing his sales, which has caused a drop in the establishment’s revenue.
Decision stage: The customer understands his problem and has an idea of what kind of solution he wants. From this moment on, the customer uses the means he has to search for solutions and will evaluate the proposal of each one to find out which offer best fits his search. In the case of the entrepreneur, he can compare by marketing agencies and find out which offer presents better results in the part of increasing sales.
5. Use your research to build your Content:
Now that you’ve researched, mapped, and understood your purpose, your customer, and his journey it’s time to turn this information into strategic content. Consult all this material and brainstorm thinking about relevant content for this profile. At this point, you should already know which channels your customer uses to get informed: focus on them for content creation. You may have realized that your customer believes in technology to help his business but has difficulties using it correctly, in which case you can create a post about how and which tools can help him for the customer who is in the awareness stage. You can make a tutorial showing the use of a certain tool in practice for the customer who is in the consideration stage. In summary, this is the time for you to use your research and work your content strategically.
At this point, you must create objectives and indicators of what you want to achieve. For example, let’s say your goal is to prospect new clients for your consulting service. You can use success metrics: number of visitors to your site, number of pre-sales meetings scheduled, and conversion rate.
6. Measure and Correct:
After planning, creating, and executing your content strategy it is necessary to measure the results. In case the indicators show a positive balance according to your goal it is time to invest more in this type of strategy and continuously follow this path. When the results do not come close to the expected result it is time to revisit all the points of your strategy and correct the course.
This process of differentiation and content strategy does not have an endpoint, but it is a continuous process that must be followed throughout the life cycle of a product. As we said in the beginning, it is not a ready-made formula, but a cyclical process that if implemented and executed with persistence and assertiveness will bring good results to your company.
The strategies to stand out in the crowd presented here focus on two points: bringing interest and identification. By having a well-defined purpose you can create an offer that transcends what your customer does daily and stand out among other brands. All the rest of the work is connected to identification: studying, understanding, and communicating appropriately with your audience will make your name stand out among the various information the user is bound to see on the internet and will bring the feeling of: “This is for me”. Companies that can stand out in this market can do a great job and become a reference in people’s minds, everything else that is not aligned to these values will be forgotten.