Substance and Style

20 Jul

The old paradigm

In the old days, marketing was much more concerned with how it looked. It primped and designed, hoping to catch the eye of some promising prospects. Now, while your company still needs to look professional, there is much more emphasis on substance, as opposed to style. It’s like the boy (the customer) has grown up and now is looking for someone to spend the rest of his life (money) with, rather than a cheap thrill.


The Triumph of Substance

What does it mean for your company? It means that you now have to compete not only on the basis of the superficial (cool brochure, ad or website) but also on the basis of substance, otherwise known as content. What does your company have to offer its prospects and customers other than the actual product or service you sell? What advice can they get from you that will solve a problem or make their lives better in some way. We all need to make the shift from merchants to problem solvers and educators.

There are so many other ways to get your content out there. Here are a few:

Blogging – This is a great way to educate and entertain your customers and prospects if you a) like writing, b) are good at writing, c) there is a lot to say on your subject matter and area of expertise, and d) your prospects and customers like reading. You can also hire someone to blog for you, but make sure that if you do, the blogger’s style is compatible with your company and its intended audience. For example, you wouldn’t want a laid back, surfer type of style if you had a financial services company.  Blogging is a service that we do on our clients’ behalf at Pro Creative, so if you are considering starting a blog but do not have the time and/or talent to do so, then you can contact us.

The ideal situation is if you have a lot of information about your subject matter that you or your contract blogger can pull from for posts. Otherwise, there will be additional time and expense doing the research for topics and information to write about. However, aside from the cost  of either your time or someone else’s time, there are very few costs involved in starting a blog.

You can use one of the two major blogging sites, WordPress or Blogger to begin. They both are free and provide ready made template designs, widgets and automatic archiving. The more posts you have, the more your blog and associated (linked) site will climb in the search engines, so it is a good idea to keep all of your posts together there. I have used (and continue to use) both. This blog is on WordPress and my personal blog, I’ll Take Five, is on Blogger. They are fairly similar in functionality. I decided to use WordPress for this blog rather than sticking with Blogger because I read that WordPress regularly pings (notifies) search engines whenever you post a blog, so it helps your site climb in the rankings faster. With Blogger, it will still happen, but you have to wait for the search engine spider to see and catalog your newest post.

Video Blogging – Some people just love being on camera, and video blogging is great for them. If you a) have an engaging personality, b) are not horribly unattractive, c) are a good speaker, and d) have products or subjects that need to be shown or demonstrated, then video blogging is the way to go. Examples of video-worthy topics would be cooking, performing, or new and improved gadgets. The nice thing about video is that it allows the prospect to see you and relate to you as a person, thereby building trust and a solid relationship. You can also upload your videos to YouTube to get extra exposure.

Most digital cameras on the market today are suitable for video blogging. Just make sure you have enough light. In order to make sure that you don’t lose your train of thought, make sure to put together a script, but do not, repeat do not, read directly from the script, as this will look awkward and stilted and will immediately torpedo your credibility. Some video bloggers place a computer behind the camera with a PowerPoint presentation that they can refer to (like a teleprompter). Don’t feel you have to do the entire video in one take. Do a part, stop it, gather your thoughts and then continue on if that helps you stay calm and focused. If you are “on a roll,” then keep rolling.

You can upload video to both Blogger and WordPress, and can also embed it into websites and social media sites like Facebook.

Presentations – Let’s say you have a great PowerPoint presentation that you want to share with the world. You can upload it to Scribd and/or SlideShare.  Make sure to include links within the presentation back to your site. Some aspiring authors upload a teaser to one of these sites, and then when people download it, they get the first few pages and then a link to buy the whole thing. There are also a number of sites that can help you convert PowerPoint into a video, where you can add sound and other effects. Here’s a video showing you how to do it.

Social Networking – Social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are mostly used for participating in communities of people with similar interests and networks, and you can definitely use them to get some content out to your audience. However, they are really better suited for smaller, bite-sized chunks of information such as tips, thought of the day, and links to your content powerhouses (websites, blogs, etc.). Look for existing gathering spots of your target audience. For example, if you sell educational material, you may want to search for teacher groups or homeschooling groups. Then, participate in the conversation, offering relevant and helpful tips and information. Be on your guard not to sound too “salesy,” or you risk turning off the group. If done correctly, social networking can establish your position as an expert in your field, which is a very, very good thing.

P.S. If you need help formulating a content strategy or help in putting your content in a form that is accessible and attractive to your target audience, I’d be happy to help you. Just drop me an email. 🙂


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