Simon Sinek, the TED speaker and business guru, says:
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.
We agree: what you offer isn’t unique. Though it may be more unique or unusual than common products and services in other industries, you will still have competitors somewhere, selling exactly the same thing as you do (or seemingly exactly the same thing through the eyes of your customers); competitors ready to beat your prices, eager to snatch your share of the market.
Products and services themselves are rarely differentiators when a customer chooses to buy. And if pricing was the be all and end all, why do people queue to buy Apple iPhone products when there are plenty of equally capable and stylish smartphones on the market that are hundreds of pounds cheaper?
Apple is the perfect example of customers buying into a vision. A story. A belief. An experience.
What an Apple iPhone offers its buyer is more than just a pretty phone: it contributes to the purchaser’s identity, to their beliefs. Steve Jobs’ story – his failures, his refusal to give in, his meteoric rise – brought a value to his brand no advertising could have achieved.
Apple’s brand and its values may seem unrealistic to smaller businesses who have no ambition to conquer the world. However, the premise of creating a narrative – content that will allow new and treasured clients to understand your story and what drives you to make/sell that product/offer that service – THIS is what will set you apart from your competitors. When considering what you sell, it’s easy to match, but who can match your background, experience, knowledge, and opinions? The way you approach and help your customers, how you make them feel when they interact with you – they’re the variables that make all the difference.
Content creation scares some people. They think that, because they’re not natural writers, they can’t put something together that their clients will appreciate. With all the technology we have today, that’s no longer a valid excuse. Besides, if it genuinely scares the living daylights out of you, outsource the task to someone else – you’ll reap the rewards, in the long run, we promise you.
The approach you have towards creating content will affect what you produce: have an open mind and put your customer at the centre of anything you put together.
Content doesn’t have to use the written word to make an impact: images are a language in themselves and can move people on a completely different level. Take Bob Geldof, who called for donations to help the starving in Africa, back in the eighties. A written plea, an advert, or someone collecting in the street, would all have been worthy ways to raise funds. In this case, it was images of the starving and dying on our television screens that saw people act. Shocked and appalled, they didn’t hesitate to donate their money; the reaction was unprecedented – you didn’t see that sort of thing on your screen back then, however common it may be today. The imagery brought a faraway situation into our homes. People realised how lucky they were in comparison, sat in their comfy armchairs with food and drink easily available.
Stories bring products and services alive. They bring meaning. They help people envisage what life would be like if they bought your kettle, your high-end bomber jacket, or purchased your confidence course. Reading of how others have benefited helps buyers to imagine the same positives. Understanding what moved you to launch your business, particularly if you created a product as a solution because one didn’t exist when you were in need, reaches people’s empathy and boosts brand loyalty.
Content differs depending on where it’s placed. You can’t tell your life story on Twitter, but it’s just a valid platform as any. In 140 characters you can link to an article you’ve written elsewhere, or give quick tips; you can answer immediate questions and queries, and mention any promotions – this still counts as valuable content.
If you sell gardening equipment, you may believe that there are a million blogs or articles that help gardeners cultivate their own perfect landscape; however, none of those blogs will have been written by you, which makes anything you produce uniquealready. Find a new way of saying something, an unusual slant on a long-standing problem, cover the areas of advice that aren’t written about as often. Your aim is to get people to know, like, and trust you – and if they can’t see you, or haven’t yet met you face-to-face, how else can you do this?
People buy from people. If you’re able to chat, telepathically, with every potential customer (who probably don’t even know you exist yet), happy days – but that’s unrealistic. Because you never know where, when, or how those potential clients will search for what you offer.
Creating content simply acts as a plethora of signposts that say: “it’s okay, we have what you need. We’ll look after you, don’t worry, you can trust us. We’ll make you feel special, we won’t rip you off, and you’ll enjoy spending your money here. We promise.”
Powerful stuff. In our next blog, we’ll tell you how to create content, and the type of things to put out there.
The Thinking Cap are marketing experts (We’re sure you came to that same conclusion via this wonderful content…!). Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and find out how we can help your business gain more traction and visibility, or visit our website: www.thethinkingcap.co.uk.