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Every Company Needs a Narrative

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Corporate narratives offer a powerful opportunity for differentiation. A good narrative helps companies go beyond the fear of things like ever-increasing competition and an unyielding the pace of change. Unfortunately, very few companies are good at crafting an inspiring, customer-focused narrative. To do one well, resist the temptation to simply hand task off to your PR team. An authentic narrative should be led by the C-suite. Second, go beyond your product or service to truly understand your customers’ unmet needs. Finally, find some stories of people who have already addressed the opportunities you’ve identified.

Companies are missing a big opportunity – to craft an inspiring corporate narrative.

How do I define narrative? It’s not a story. Stories are generally self-contained in that they have a beginning, a middle and an end. I see narratives, in contrast, as open-ended. There’s some kind of threat or opportunity looming in the future, and it’s not at all clear how things are going to work out. The resolution of the narrative hinges on the choices and actions of those involved, which makes it a potentially powerful call to action.

In the corporate context, a narrative should be about the customer, not the corporation. Building a successful narrative requires a deep understanding of your customers: How are their needs evolving? What are the big opportunities that would excite and inspire them? What are the challenges or obstacles they would confront in seeking to address those opportunities? What actions will they need to take in order to overcome those obstacles and achieve the opportunity? Are those actions something that the company could help them to pursue?

Unfortunately, very few companies are good at crafting an inspiring, customer-focused narrative. One of the best examples comes from Apple. In the 1990s, Steve Jobs articulated a narrative that was condensed by his marketers into the slogan “Think different.”

To understand the impact of this slogan and its supporting narrative, we need to go back to the early days of digital technology. Many people felt it took away our personas and made us data points. It put us in cubicles and made us cogs in a machine. The Apple narrative suggested that a new generation of digital technology would enable us to express our unique potential and personality. To harness the real potential of this new generation of technology, we needed to think different. Would we do that?

To make this narrative more credible, Apple told stories about famous people like Einstein, Picasso, Bob Dylan and Muhammad Ali who did “think different” and what they were able to accomplish. When sharing this narrative in the marketplace, Apple made very little reference to itself. It was all about the customers and the opportunity available to customers, if they would take action. It’s one of the reasons that Apple in the early days became the equivalent of a religion – it spoke to something that was a deeply felt need among people at that time.

That’s just one example. There are a few others including “Just Do It” by Nike and “Belong Anywhere” by Airbnb – slogans that embody inspiring narratives. So why are they do hard to do?

We live in a world where customers are becoming more powerful and demanding. They have the ability to access more options, gain more information about those options, and switch from one vendor to another easily if their needs are not being met. More broadly, trust is eroding in our institutions. People are increasingly tuned in to how companies and others are pursuing their own interests, often at the expense of the needs and interests of their customers.

In part, this is the result of intensifying global competition. As companies experience mounting performance pressure, their time horizons shrink, and they become obsessed with internal efficiency.

In that kind of world, there’s an opportunity for powerful differentiation. Customers will be drawn to a compelling corporate narrative with a long-term view that demonstrates a deep understanding of their needs and aspirations and, importantly, that helps them to see what actions they need to take to address those needs and aspirations. Creating such an authentic connection with your customers is also an opportunity to rebuild some trust.

These narratives can also inspire and motivate a growing number of third parties who seek to help customers achieve more meaningful impact. In the Apple example, its corporate narrative was a key element in spawning a large ecosystem of companies seeking to develop new applications and digital tools that could help customers to “think different.”

But there’s an even more compelling reason to embrace corporate narratives at this point. As I discuss in my new book, The Journey Beyond Fear, fear has become a dominant emotion around the world. In a business context, there are many forces drawing out this fear. Competition is intensifying on a global scale, workers increasingly feel they are at risk of losing their jobs to robots, the pace of change is accelerating, and extreme events come in out of nowhere to disrupt our best-laid plans.

While there are reasons for fear, fear is also very limiting. We are all seeking ways to move beyond fear to cultivate emotions like hope and excitement that will help us to achieve more impact that is meaningful to us. I believe corporate narratives can play a powerful role in helping us to move beyond fear — if we can do them correctly.

Getting Started

First, resist the temptation to hand this off to your PR team. Corporate narratives will only have impact if they are deeply authentic. Recall the example of Apple. A key reason for the success of that narrative was the fact that both Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak thought different every day of their lives — it wasn’t just a marketing slogan. Sure, the marketing team can play a role in taking the message out to the market, but the key is to get the C-suite actively engaged in crafting the narrative and developing a deep understanding of the untapped opportunities available to their customers. In the end, you want all your employees to embrace the narrative and understand the implications it has for the work they do in terms of where and how they can help customers to address the opportunity ahead.

Second, expand your horizons beyond the product or service you offer. Explore the broader context of your customers and what their bigger unmet needs and aspirations are. Tie those back to your own personal needs and aspirations – the most powerful opportunities are the ones that excite and inspire you as well.

Third, be clear about the actions that your customers can take. Make sure they aren’t too overwhelming but also not so easy that they can be done without much effort.

Finally, find some stories of people who have already addressed the opportunity you’ve identified. Then put it all together into a simple and compelling narrative that can speak to your customers and, if possible, condense it into a slogan to get their attention and motivate them to want to learn more.

To create more value in a world of mounting performance pressure, we need to expand our horizons. Developing a deeper understanding of the unmet needs and aspirations of your customers is part of that expansion. Then you can look ahead to frame an opportunity that will be truly inspiring to them. And you can look within to find ways you can be more helpful to your customers in addressing that opportunity. If done right, your customers and your company will move past the fear-driven instinct to shrink your horizons, and focus on the longer-term opportunities ahead.

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The Benefits of LinkedIn Ads

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LinkedIn wouldn’t necessarily be the first platform that comes to mind when considering social media advertising. However, if you are a B2B organisation, the platform can allow you to reach professionals across the globe. LinkedIn allows you to generate brand awareness across targeted professional sectors and reach out to decision makers directly.

Advertising is all about targeting the right people. Users of LinkedIn tend to be older, professional and have a higher income than the average user of other social media platforms. So if that is your target market, LinkedIn offers a great opportunity to reach them. Professionals use LinkedIn for business networking purposes so users are generally in work mode so engaging with them should be easier than on other platforms.

Here we outline the six main advantages that LinkedIn Ads have over other social media platforms.

1. Variety of ad formats

LinkedIn offers a number of options for advertising:

  • Sponsored content – this type of ad appears in people’s feeds, it is the least personal form but good for promoting content from your business page and encouraging people onto it.
  • Text ads – these are only viewable by people using a desktop. With these you can choose the audience you want to target and you only pay per click.
  • Message ads – these appear in users’ inboxes and are proven to be good for conversion.
  • Video ads – great for storytelling, you can also retarget users who have watched the video, aiding conversion rates.
  • Dynamic ads – these allow you to fully personalise your ad by showing user’s photo, name and title within the advert.

2. Generate high quality leads

The ability to target professionals and gain good quality leads is the primary benefit of LinkedIn ads. Users are looking at work-related content so will be more open to solutions for their business needs.

With more than 800 million users in over 220 countries and territories, LinkedIn is the biggest social network for professionals and businesses alike. 4 out of 5 LinkedIn members drive business decisions and the platform has been rated the best for lead generation by marketers.

By using LinkedIn advertising, you can access their Lead Accelerator feature. This feature allows businesses to follow their best prospects and offer more targeted ads directly to them. This includes remarketing to website visitors, which helps nurture leads, making them more likely to become customers.

3. Targeting

LinkedIn allows you to target specific demographics, enabling you to create much more personal advertising campaigns. Facebook lets you target interest and behaviour based factors however LinkedIn is the right medium to use if you want to target individuals based on their industry and job. You can filter your audience by:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Company name
  • Company size
  • Degree subject
  • Job title
  • Seniority
  • Industry
  • Member skills

These variables make the platform the ideal choice for B2B organisations wanting to target decision-makers.

Entrepreneurs executing on a business idea
photo credit: LinkedIn Sales Navigator / Unsplash

4. Remarketing

LinkedIn allows you to specifically target people who have shown an interest in your products. Matched audiences show you which users have visited your website and the pages that they went on. This allows you to target them with specific ads in the hope that they will return to your website and convert to a customer.

Matched audiences can be created with:

  • Account Targeting – Uploading a CSV of company names to LinkedIn allows you to target decision-makers.
  • Website Retargeting – Target the users who have visited your website and re-engage them to aid conversions.
  • Contact Targeting – Uploading a CSV of email addresses of your contacts to LinkedIn enables you to nurture your leads and prospects even further.

5. Increased conversion rates

The ability to target specific groups, nurture them and remarket to them will increase your conversion rates.

A year-long study by HubSpot found that on average, LinkedIn ads convert users to leads at a 6.1 per cent conversion rate. This compares to 2.58 per cent for Google search ads.

MD of exhibition stand contractor Black Robin Exhibits, Alan Jenkins, managed to achieve a conversion rate of 8.2% with a LinkedIn campaign earlier this year, he said “We were delighted with the results, it wasn’t a huge investment, we could set the budget and the conversion rate was fantastic”.

6. High control

A big benefit of LinkedIn advertising is the high degree of control that you can have. You can set a specific start time for your advert and specify when it will end. As well as this, you can set daily budgets to ensure your advertising costs are kept at the right level for your business.

Businessman using LinkedIn app

Conclusion

Setting up a LinkedIn campaign is not straight-forward due to the variety of advert types and different ways of targeting. But the platform has a number of advantages over other social media sites if your target market is professional businesspeople.

B2B organisations will be able to target specific demographics with personal ads, nurture and remarket to them. All this will increase conversion rates, making LinkedIn a valuable marketing tool.

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Beginners’ guide to Instagram Reels

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Get ‘Reel’ results

If you haven’t already heard the news, according to Instagram, they’re no longer a photo-sharing app. Shocking, right? The company announced they want to start focusing more on video content, like that offered through Instagram Reels, as opposed to being the original square photo-sharing app they’re known for being.

“At Instagram, we’re always trying to build new features that help you get the most out of your experience. Right now we’re focused on four key areas: Creators, Video, Shopping and Messaging.” — Adam Mosseri, Instagram CEO

This makes total sense because short, engaging videos (shown to us by hyper-accurate algorithms) have proven to keep our attention more effectively than ever before. So effectively that 93% of marketers who use video say it’s an important part of their marketing strategy. Additionally, users are twice as likely to share video content with their friends and family than any other type of content, including social media posts, blog posts/articles and product pages.

So if you’ve been hesitant to start making Instagram Reels or just needed a little encouragement, we’ll cover the basics, give you some ideas on what content to create for your business or brand, and help you understand the data behind it all.

But, before we do, let’s talk about why Instagram Reels needs to be included in your marketing strategy.
What are Reels and why should you start using them?

Person recording elephants on smartphone

Instagram Reels rolled out in late 2020 and the feature has continued to increase in popularity. Reels provide creators with a way to produce and share short, engaging videos using a collection of mainstream music and user-generated audio.

With more advanced editing tools, such as speed controls, filters and transitions, you can effortlessly edit multi-clip Reels up to 30 seconds long, entirely within the Instagram app, which is amazing if you don’t want to use multiple apps and extra equipment to film, edit and post to social media.

Reels are definitely a useful feature of the platform as a whole that is worth exploring. When it comes to metrics, Reels receive 22% more engagement than videos posted directly to a feed. In addition to IGTV, Live and Stories, Instagram Reels are another great tool for you to use to get noticed on the platform and reach potential customers.

Nearly two-thirds of Instagram users are between 18 and 29, with 18- to 34-year-olds the most active age group. That means there’s a ton of opportunity for businesses to be discovered by your target audience on this platform. So, if your Instagram strategy needs a boost to stay top-of-mind and ahead of the competition, Reels could be your solution.

Related: How to plan an Instagram marketing strategy to attract business

Instagram Reels small business content ideas

If your business is active on Instagram but hasn’t posted a Reel just yet, don’t worry, it’s not too late to start. Accounts that don’t follow you can find your content while scrolling on the Explore page, which is why it’s so important for brands to be active where their target audience is.

Don’t let lack of inspiration hold you back, here are some simple and effective video ideas:

Educational content‍

The best way to increase your reach and engagement is to give your viewers value. If you can create something that is helpful, users are more likely to like it, share it with their friends and follow you for more. That ultimately, tells the algorithm your content is worth being promoted to others on the app.

For example, you can create shareable workout, cooking or crafting videos just by showing your step-by-step process.

Showcase your products‍ or services

Highlight what makes your business unique with Reels dedicated to each product or service you offer. This could be a tutorial on how to best use your products or a way to update customers on new offerings.

Create original content‍

Easier said than done, but I know that behind-the-scenes content, user-generated content and FAQs are always a big hit with loyal audiences.

You also have a few different ways to get trending and possibly even viral. You can use trending hashtags, popular audio clips or filters and get discovered among other videos with those elements.

Re-creating a popular trend while highlighting your brand is one of the quickest (but not the easiest) ways for business growth with Instagram Reels.

How to optimize your Instagram Reels

Improvised video recording setup

Improvised video recording setup

Like with any social media platform, there are always hidden steps you can take to increase the likelihood your content gets seen and please the almighty algorithm.

For example, many users who create content for TikTok have started uploading those same videos as Reels. Seems like a logical time saver, right? Well, Instagram has not only clearly advised against re-posting content that’s “visibly recycled from other apps,” it has also updated its algorithm to recognize and prevent it from performing well on their platform.

That being said, here are some tips on how to optimize your Reels for the best results:

  1. Try to record (vertically), edit and add effects to your reels from within the app, rather than uploading a video you’ve created elsewhere.
  2. It’s also important to use text overlays, hashtags, audio, and descriptive captions to let Instagram add you to an algorithm relevant to the content.
  3. @ other accounts, when appropriate. Just like hashtags, you’ll get more reach by including their name in your content.
  4. Use custom thumbnails. Doing so will make it easier for users to find videos they want to watch when scrolling on your account. It’s also a great way to incorporate your branding and help your feed look cohesive.
  5. Sharing your Reels to your Stories and even on your feed will get more people to see it. You can share it when you post it or, if you have posted enough that day, share on a day when you don’t have anything else to post.

Algorithms are constantly changing, and not always for the better. Doing just a little bit of research to stay on top of current trends and best practices will pay off in the long run.

Related: 3 ways to use Instagram Stories for digital storytelling

Understanding Instagram Reels Insights

Bodybuilder recording workout

Bodybuilder recording workout

Finally, you’ll need a way of knowing if your hard work is paying off.

Instagram has included a dedicated tab, which is similar to the Insights tab on your static posts and videos, that details the metrics relating to your Reels. With the Instagram Reels Insights, business owners can see important metrics like accounts reached, plays, likes, comments, saves and shares.

By knowing what type of accounts you’re reaching with your Reels and which content formats are most engaging with your audience, you’ll be able to adjust your content to better serve your target audience and grow your account.

Measuring these stats is the best way to make sure all the efforts you’re putting in to engage your fans is actually working.

Once you have a good idea of where your metrics are on average, try experimenting with the time of day, type of content and hashtags you use when posting your Reels. Start thinking of ways to get in front of new users with videos like tutorials, bloopers or more user-generated content. You could even share customer testimonials or success stories for added social proof.

Final thoughts on Instagram Reels

I know I personally struggled with the idea of including yet another item on my content creation checklist, but I’ve found that even just repurposing a few old clips from videos on my YouTube channel into Reels has proved effective in increasing my engagement and reach on Instagram.

Exploring a new feature of social media can be intimidating and overwhelming at times, but Reels seems to be a fun new way to expand your social media presence through the use of short videos. I recommend testing it out and seeing how well it works for you and your audience. You might find it to be your new favorite tool in your social media strategy.



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5 Strategies to Drive Customer Engagement

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Engaging with your customers is the key to driving sales and growing your company. However, some businesses are not sure how to do this effectively. It means that when they finally manage to engage with their customers, they are not entirely sure what worked. Knowing how to drive customer engagement is all about knowing your customers.

Here are 5 strategies that you can use to drive customer engagement.

Customer engagement
photo credit: Edmond Dantès / Pexels

Communication is the Key

Communication between your company and your customers is fundamental to engagement. If your customers are trying to talk to you about your products or services, then you should listen to them. Avoiding contact will simply drive them to another company.

Here are some tips you should follow.

1. Listen to Your Customers and Never Assume

If you have a customer that approaches you on social media or any other channel, it is vital that you engage them in a conversation. Their initial message might not be the complete story, so you need to work with them to find the right answer.

Once you have found out what the customer wants, go through your products with them and pinpoint what works for them. Your sales team must never assume that they know what their customers want, or they might find the customer goes elsewhere.

2. Seek Help with Engagement

Sometimes no matter what you try, you are unable to engage with your customers or retain them. It may be that there are strategies that you haven’t considered or lack the knowledge to implement.

This is where companies such as TCC Global can help. By helping you and your marketing team to engage with your customers and create brand loyalty, you can start to grow your business.

3. Respond Quickly to Questions

There is nothing more frustrating for customers than asking a question on social media and not getting a reply. Even a delay of a few hours can be enough to cause someone to look elsewhere.

If your business has a presence on social media, then it is vital that it is monitored at least during business hours.

Selling to existing customers

4. Chat to Your Customers

There is a temptation to use your means of communication to just sell products. While this is an important part, there should also be more customer engagement through conversation.

If you find something interesting, tell your customers on social media. Reply to them if they answer you and keep the conversation going.

5. Blog About the Popular Questions

If you are seeing a trend in questions your customers are asking, then it may be a good idea to write a blog post about it.

Blog posts will drive visitors and potential customers to your website and from there they may go to your products. Answering these popular questions will also save time for your customers and build loyalty.

Conclusion

So, there you have it – 5 strategies to drive customer engagement. These are just a few of the ways your company can build a relationship with its customers and build a loyal following.

It is important to remember to stay engaged with your customers even after they make a purchase.

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