Kathryn Gorges (pronounced gorgeous!) knows how to spell out the core principles of marketing for companies overwhelmed by the present demands of content strategy: “The most important thing is who you’re targeting and how you’re solving the customer’s problem. You can’t create content for the masses; you need to speak directly to your target segments.”
Gorges is a marketing consultant and Social Marketing Diva with over 17 years experience. She works with brands to increase visibility and nurture customer relationships through web content, social media, email, and event marketing.
I spoke with Gorges to glean insights into how marketers and PR professionals can generate quality customer conversations and relationships in the digital age.
In the midst of constant changes in digital marketing, what are the core, unshakable marketing principles?
KG: We’re still in the middle of a transition where we have these bright shiny objects and we’re not sure how to use them. People are throwing thousands of dollars away on marketing automation and blogging and images, and not knowing what they’re doing.
The truth is, at the heart of everything is still the story. People doing marketing strategy the right way are the ones that lead with the story of how the product or service is really making a difference for people. Out of that, all content is created. The story is the core, the touchstone.
Companies need to figure out, what is the central narrative? People are developing all kinds of content and wasting money because the content doesn’t match up to that central story. It’s the story and behind that is the customer.
There’s a problem of focus these days. The focus is on lead generation and brand awareness and putting all that into these tools. But where you make money is with repeat business. Otherwise it’s a transaction. If you don’t have real customers and repeat customers then you’re not building relationships with those customers.
It’s not about one-way messaging. What is the reality like when someone calls your company for service? If you know your job is to give them an excellent experience but the customer gets put on hold for 20 minutes then it doesn’t matter what your message is. Companies can’t rely on the artifice of messaging and phone scripts.”
What value does social media provide in all this? Lead gen? something else?
KG: Customers talk to other customers. They can do a search and find out what others are saying about you. It’s all out there. Millennials have come through the recession and are really skeptical about vendors’ promises and one-way marketing. They want real relationships. They are going to build that relationship on top of the trust that gets passed on by knowing how other customers feel about your product or service, especially from people they know. That’s first, then the relationship with the company follows.
That means the real experience people are having is more important than the messaging. Customers won’t form a relationship with a brand because of the brand’s messaging. They want to know, ‘does this make a difference for me?’
Today there are so many places to find out about a product or service before customers even talk to a company. They want other people’s experiences first. Once they’ve seen that then they are ready to see what the company says about itself.”
Why does content strategy matter?
A content strategist figures out how to create a bigger view (and greater visibility) on the web. This person develops a cohesive strategy that in every way carries forward the narrative, with different pieces of content for different platforms. Companies need a content strategy where derivatives of the content are published on the companies’ social platforms as well as 3rd party media platforms.
Derivative content includes: press releases, infographics, blog entries, bylined articles/op eds, social channel entries, etc. You can get your content in front of people directly but it delivers real value when you have a direct relationship with the customer. Now you have this whole other mechanism of getting content out there.
Knowing how to develop and produce the most compelling content; knowing what resonates is now vital to marketing success. Marketing people haven’t had to produce this content before. There wasn’t this big content machine.
So there is an ever demanding content generation machine and your potential customers are consuming that content. But there’s also Google – companies need to get decent search results to have social authority. There’s this crushing need for generating content and putting it out on company websites. But the company needs to be a subject matter expert, not a media company.
Don’t lose sight of the 2-way relationship with the customer. That isn’t going away any time soon.
Kathryn Gorges: Kathryn Gorges