2014 is set to be the year that two truths bear themselves. The first is that Internet users are tired, bombarded with content and desperate to separate the chaff from the wheat. The second is that old methods of marketing simply are not effective anymore. This combination has lead to the rise of engaging content and emphasis on a relationship with customers, regardless of the specific market you find yourself in.
The verdict is in, and people are saying that they want quality, value, and creativity. They want information, media, and brands that enrich their lives in tangible ways, in conjunction with their values and belief structures. If you’re keeping score, you can imagine that reaching such lofty heights through iPad giveaways and banal taglines is a near impossible task.
Making a Connection
The reason old marketing tactics are no longer working begins with the fact that they do not connect with customers. Discerning consumers are no longer swayed by catchy phrases or theme songs. Inundated with media and cheap ploys for sales, they have begun to demand more sincere, legitimate content and engagement that recognizes them as more than simply another sales lead.
This is where voice plays a part. Voice gives a face to your organization, which is exactly what consumers want to see. Too many people have waded through phone menus and automated replies. Now those same people want to know that there is a person on the other end of the line. Voice forges that precious connection that new, smarter, more discerning customers are looking for.
At its core, the importance of voice demonstrates prevailing attitudes toward large organizations. We’ve entered an era in which people talk to other people every day through social media, and, for that reason, expect the same personal level of attention and interaction from businesses. But while a human touch encourages positive association with brands, it is not enough to create the sort of image and perception that brands hope to accomplish. Thankfully, voice solves this problem too.
Telling a Story
Voice connects with customers on a deeper level; a connection ingrained in us for thousands of years. Namely, voice tells a story. Since the dawn of man, humans have been hard-wired to interact, convey messages, emotions, and concepts, and build community around stories. Developing a unique voice for your organization takes more than putting a nametag on a customer service response. It takes an emphasis on this millennia old practice.
Good content marketing achieves exactly this; leaning on your expertise and providing engaging information that your audience wants. By constructing a narrative of your knowledge and sharing it with individuals, you build a shared perception that establishes a valuable brand image. Furthermore, you do so in an efficient, understandable, and effective manner. Searching for a better method of communication than storytelling would be a fruitless endeavor indeed.
The reason for this more profound impact stems from the involvement of something universal in all of us: emotion. Bullet points, tips, tricks, and instructional videos can help brands seem knowledgeable, but in order to gain the sort of emotional and psychological association you are looking for, you need to dig past hard numbers and slideshows. A good narrative that connects on a human level creates a sort of dynamic partnership that not only helps brand image, but establishes channels for communication that aid both the customer and the organization.
And these are not empty platitudes. Uri Hasson from Princeton has observed that the brains of individuals reading or listening to the same story actually synchronize. Narratives that call upon particular emotions or experiences actually engage the same parts of our brain that would see utilization in those situations in real life. The conclusion is unavoidable: stories are effective, we are hard-wired to consume them, and the emotional impact of stories is greater than facts can achieve.
Time for a Change
In this context, it is time for brands to recognize the power of voice. An infographic by HubSpot documents the fall of social media and marketing tactics from the days of increased engagement to a time of senseless spouting. As stated, customers have noticed this, and it’s time for a change. Gone are the days when yelling “hashtag our company name!” at Twitter followers got any semblance of response, but savvy marketers can harness this change and use their powers for good.
Begin with your social media strategy. Are you throwing promotional materials at the wall or are you using these tools for their intended purpose: engagement? According to the aforementioned infographic, customers expect prompt responses to comments on social media. Use this opportunity to reconnect with your customer base and provide personalized, prompt service.
Leverage your knowledge and re-shape your content. Know your strengths and ask your readers what they want to hear. Use that expertise to give the people what they want. Take advantage of the ubiquity of communication in our modern day and construct a narrative that builds positive brand association through real, tangible value. Know that your customers are not stupid; they expect smart content tailored to their needs. The good news is, you can give it to them.
Brands are no longer monolithic emblems blazing in the city sky. Savvy customers expect brands to be respectful, personal, and intelligent. Your voice, your story, and your human assets can deliver this in spades, to the benefit of your bottom line. These days, brands without voice are little but logos. Do not miss the opportunity to be people: let your voice be heard and become a part of the conversation.