You’re a high-level thinker.
A problem solver.
And a communicator worth an audience’s attention.
So, you understand why bold ideas matter in content strategy. Without the vision to think bigger and better, companies usually get lost in content shock.
“People used to vote with their wallets, and now they vote with their time. If you can’t win the battle for time, you’re dead. I don’t care how much you spend. I don’t care where you spend it. If you’re not better than the stuff they have at their fingertips, you’re dead,” states Ron Tite, CEO of the Tite Group.
Go off the deep end in 2017. Below are my five bold ideas for content strategists.
1. UGC Within the Sales Funnel
Okay, stop randomly posting testimonials on your website. Not only are you confusing your audience, but you’re also underutilizing valuable content necessary to turn visitors into customers.
A Reevoo study found that “70% of consumers place peer recommendations and reviews above professionally-written content.” But no one ever tells us how to properly execute that content.
To win big (and outdo the competition), brands must strategically connect their UGC to the sales funnel, and I’m not suggesting you insert any old image of a happy customer into your next blog post.
Break down the funnel into UGC opportunities. When visitors arrive to your site, greet them with noteworthy quotables from experts who have experienced your product. To gain more interest, use videos to highlight how current consumers profit from your services.
Free trials coupled with detailed reviews encourage the buyer to make the purchase, and as customers, your team can shower them with images of other buyers using the same products.
GladGlow is a powerful example of how to properly implement this strategy. Their Instagram Gallery holds a collection of UGC each showcasing the customer and the product with a call-to-action to purchase.
2. Brand Fiction Becomes A Content Form
Some experts argue that brand storytelling needs to move from fiction to nonfiction. Well, I respectfully disagree. While consumers despise falsehoods, they do enjoy realistic fiction that embodies facets of truth and imagination.
TV shows like Scandal and Orange Is the New Black emphasize parts of real life. But their uniqueness lies in vibrant plot twists that really wouldn’t happen.
“Incorporating fictional stories and alternative methods of messaging create a holistic branding plan that reaches people from all walks of life. There is no rule book in place that states only networks and entertainers can create fictional stories for consumption,” says Inc. contributor Adam Fridman.
With brand fiction, your team can lead consumers to new perspectives and possibly toward unknown universes. But how does this strategy help you?
You’re laying a foundation to connect with your audience. They won’t solely rely on your company for products. Instead, consumers interact with you as part of their daily content consumption.
For examples of brand fiction, check out General Electric’s The Message podcast and Kate Spade’s #missadventure video series.
3. Invisible Personalization to the Rescue
How can I say this nicely? Your personalization techniques suck. Like, a lot.
More businesses are becoming lazy about the consumer’s need for customization. Teams think personalization equals plopping a person’s name into an email. On the other hand, some brands believe stalking the customer’s every move will generate a sale.
In 2017, content strategists should work with their marketing, growth, and product colleagues to produce invisible personalization—customization unbeknownst to the buyer.
“To avoid the ‘creepy’ element and make personalized messages and content more engaging and effective, marketers must keep one critical principle in mind: The most effective personalization is usually invisible. By invisible, I mean that the personalization is undetectable by the customer or prospect,” states David Dodd, a B2B business and marketing strategist.
With machine learning technology, it’s possible to provide customers tailored services based on their behavior and habits without being blatantly obvious. Netflix uses a wide-range of data, such as the number times a video is replayed, to determine its user’s preferences.
4. Customer Validation As A Talking Point
It’s time to finally add validation to your marketing strategy. And I’m not referring to the process of validating your product to consumers to determine market success.
Customer validation is connected to human behavior. We seek approval from the people around us, and we want them to value our opinions.
In her legendary career as a talk show host, Oprah Winfrey discovered validation as a common thread amongst all her guests:
“…[W]e want to be validated. We want to be understood. I’ve done over 35,000 interviews in my career. And as soon as that camera shuts off, and inevitably in their own way, everyone asks this question: ‘Was that okay?’”
Use customer validation to your advantage. Show buyers their existence and opinions truly matter. For instance, during support calls, verbally acknowledge your customers and ask them cordial questions.
Give in-store consumers an unexpected incentive, like a 25% coupon, just for shopping today, and practice complimenting buyers for making specific purchasing decisions.
Marketing isn’t rocket science; it’s psychology—appeal to consumers’ emotions.
5. Episodic Content for the Win
In this online streaming era, people want content in an episodic fashion. Bite-sized content chopped up into several segments leaves room for viewers to consume information on their own terms.
Moreover, the best episodic content is commercial-free, giving the consumer the opportunity to dodge irrelevant advertisements about products they hate.
The good news is that brands possess the resources to create their own content. From Red Bull to Intel, companies are building their own platforms to disseminate content. So, there are no excuses.
Create content that will keep people on the edge of their seats. Use dynamic characters, interesting stories, and multiple settings, and work with your team to decide the right timing to release each episode.
Coca-Cola produced its “Crossroads” series exploring teen issues, like public shaming, pregnancy, and bullying. The beverage company’s intent was to inspire teens to stand up for their true friends when it matters most.
Don’t feel the need to limit your content to video. Images and text are impactful when conveyed in a compelling manner.
Take A Leap of Faith
This isn’t the time to shrink up and do the same content strategy from last year. The competition is already two steps ahead of you.
So, what are you going to do?
Challenge your team to experiment and try bold ideas. Now is the time to take a leap of faith.