Month: October 2014

The Art of Crafting Content: Every Business Has a Story

Content, content, content. If I hear the term ‘Content is King’ one more time, I’m going to throw the content of my laptop off the balcony. It seems that these days everyone wants to ‘create content’. There’s no doubt that it’s been the marketing trend of the last year or two, building on the foundations that social media set a few years before.

In essence, it’s about producing work, either written, visual or audio, that’s designed to be shared online and increase a company’s exposure. It’s meant to attract people to your brand with something of value rather than interrupting them with a marketing message about your product. That’s all well and good, but what exactly is ‘content’ in this sense?

Well it depends on what type of business you are to be honest, but it usually boils down to the same thing; providing your customer base with something interesting, and telling them a bit about who you are in the process. It’s all about telling a story.

Every business has a story to tell

People tend to think of content marketing as simply blogging, but in reality it can be almost anything that involves copywriting in some form; a blog, social media, email newsletters, podcasts etc. All offer a similar opportunity to frame yourself in your customer’s mind.

Small businesses might think that they don’t have anything to talk about, and that brand-building is to be left to bigger companies with bigger advertising budgets, but that’s not the case.

You mightn’t be a big company with lots of resources to pump into a flashy ad campaign but you sure as hell have something to say, and this is where content marketing can work wonders in strengthening your brand. It’s an opportunity to showcase your company’s personality, to give your customers and potential customers an insight into your strengths and values.

In an SME B2B sense, it generally tends to be positioning yourselves as a knowledgeable industry expert with How-To and advice pieces, and that’s fine, but what about other, smaller, consumer-facing businesses? When it comes down to it, every client project, every happy customer, every employee, every day the company is in business is its own story waiting to be told.

content creation

It’s easy to get started

Start a blog and document the day-to-day ups and downs of your business. On social media, share photos of your staff and your work. Craft a story for your brand. Talk about the challenges you face as well as the wins. The good times and the bad.  Give your customers a glimpse into the human aspect of your business.

A company in the food industry for example has a wealth of ‘content’ waiting to be shared, in both a visual sense (people can’t get enough food porn), and in a written sense (share some recipes or suggested use cases for your product).

It is an art. It’s something you have to work on there’s no doubt about that, but it doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds. It takes no time at all to add a WordPress blog to your site and most small companies are already active at least in some form on social media, it’s just about giving more consideration to what you post. Include an email newsletter signup form on your website if you don’t already have one and start building an email list. An email newsletter is content too!

Writing doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and it can be tough to start off with but, like with everything, it gets easier with practice. Start off small and build from there. You have to take that first step. Put a plan together, one blog post a week for example, and stick to it. Make note of happenings during your work week that you could write about.

A message is a message, regardless of the channel

I think when people separate content marketing from social media, and even traditional brand building approaches, they’re missing the point. A marketing message is still a marketing message regardless of the channel used.

In a way, ‘content’ can be any message that reaches your customer.  And with this thinking, you should treat it as if it were any other type of brand building exercise. There is far too much rubbish on the web today. Content for the sake of content. I’m looking at you memes and Facebook quotes! You wouldn’t associate this crap with your company in a print ad or on TV, so why do it online?

It’s also important to realise that this type of marketing doesn’t necessarily have to result in a CTA to buy your product. It’s more about strengthening your brand. It’s not about capitalizing on intent like with search marketing, it’s about creating intent, more like traditional media. Google’s search engine results page is very important for being found online, but at the end of the day, it’s still only one of the ways a customer might come across your company.

Most of the iconic and established companies in business today still lean on their heritage when promoting their brand. While not every company has a wealth of history to base their marketing on, every company definitely has its own story to tell, and there’s no time like the present to get started telling yours.

Posted by Rob in Marketing, Social Media

Google aims to reinvent email with new ‘Inbox’ app

Email is one of those services that, while not exactly broken, certainly isn’t optimized for our new mobile lifestyle. There’s a couple of decent applications out there already that try to modernize the age-old email experience somewhat but, on the mobile, it’s still basically the same process that it’s always been. Enter Google’s new ‘Inbox’ app.

Inbox uses some of the aspects of Google Now to contextualize and streamline email to give users a much better experience on mobile. It also uses Google’s slick new ‘Material Design’ approach that’s come to the fore recently. Inbox is invite-only at the moment, so good luck trying to test it out, but fingers crossed it gets a mainstream launch soon enough.

Posted by Rob in Apps, Google

Samsung’s mobile division might be just a little screwed

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Things are not looking too good for Samsung’s mobile division at the moment it appears. According to analysts this week, operating profits for the third quarter are projected to plummet 47%, while sales are projected to fall 15%. Grim reading for the Korean giants.

With cheaper competitors biting at their heels at the lower end of the market (namely Xiaomi) and Apple supersizing the iPhone and making iOS8 more customizable to bring it up to par with the premium Galaxy range, they have a battle on their hands from both sides.

The fact that Samsung were first to the market with a 5.5 inch screen won’t make much of a difference now that the playing fields are level and, with Apple selling 10 million iPhone 6s on the opening weekend last month, that’s 10 million people that presumably won’t be buying the Galaxy S5 or S6. They had their head start and now things are getting real.

If that isn’t bad enough, Samsung were overtaken by Xiaomi as the largest smartphone maker in China in Q2 2014, as well as in India that same quarter by local company Micromax Informatics. Their revenue from mobile handsets peaked at the end of last year and seems to have been on a downward spiral since then.

samsung revenue

With the smartphone wars usually framed in either an iOS vs. Android context on an operating system level, or an Apple vs. Samsung context on a handset level, Samsung and Android are pretty synonymous with each other in the smartphone space. Maybe not for long though with more and more viable competitors coming onto the scene like the aforementioned Xiaomi, and newer brands like the OnePlus One.

They have made more of an effort over the last few months to lessen their reliance on Android by pushing their Galaxy apps platform, trying to insulate themselves from becoming a commodity like Apple does with iOS, but with declining sales, they are in less of a position to do that.

While Apple’s models are entirely in the high-end bracket, Samsung are in danger of getting stuck in a no-man’s land of being too expensive for the low-end of the market, and now being in a straight shoot out with Apple in the high-end.

So, what to do for Samsung? Focus on cheaper models to fight for market share in emerging markets like China and India? Innovate in areas that competitors can’t, like with the flexible screens that they have been testing? They certainly have the resources as well as a strong R&D department but the market is being commoditized and a change of tack may be needed to stop the rot.

Posted by Rob in Android, Mobile, Tech