©istockphoto / Alice Day

©istockphoto / Alice Day

Advertising is about talking at your customers. Content is about talking with your customers.

This is not easy for most marketers who have been brought up in traditional marketing, and who remember the heyday of the thirty-second spot.

Up until the ’80s, advertising ruled. There were minimal media channels available, and the best way to reach most customers was through TV, radio and traditional print. Fewer media voices meant fewer options. The brands with the biggest advertising budgets dominated. For the most part, more money meant more impact, and more sales.

Today, the marketing world has been turned on its head. There are more media channels than ever before. Anyone, anywhere, with access to simple technology, can develop a media channel to communicate directly to customers and prospects.

Is there content clutter?  Absolutely. Call it content inflation. What that means is that standards must be raised for content quality. Reaching your customers means developing a consistent, relevant story.

But developing a story isn’t enough.  As marketers, you need to be involved in relevant conversations so that your story can be heard.  Conversations are going on right now about your company, your people and your brands. Are you involved in those conversations? If you are, how are you telling your story as part of those conversations?

So, here’s what you need to do:

  1. More problem-solving, less sales. Most brand-related content deals with products and services. That’s a requirement, but not enough. Focus on content that solves your customers’ pain points. Fostering engagement means developing compelling, constructive content as well as showing your customers a good time.
  2. Hire a journalist or publisher. Realize that, whether you like it or not, you have to be a publisher. If you don’t have the publishing expertise in-house or have trouble taking off your sales hat, go find the talent.
  3. Appoint a Chief Conversation Officer. Navigating the conversations that happen around your brands and within the industries you service is challenging. Someone in your organization (or multiple people) needs to monitor online conversations and be ready to jump into relevant dialogue. That means listening to key blogs, to Twitter, to competitors and to the millions of other media channels that surround you.

Face it: “Being heard” as a brand today means being a publisher – which gives you an opportunity to be part of the conversation. Making the transition now will allow you to position your brand as a trusted solutions provider.

Is there any other way?