In the contemporary world of marketing, great brands have to constantly find new ways to stay on top of their market, be relevant and engage customers and new prospects alike.
Marketers today must continually master new strategies and tactics to stay ahead of the competition, particularly in a world where information is constantly coming at us.
With an almost constant flow of new information across a variety of mediums, ranging from Instagram, Facebook or their social platforms of choice, to radio and out of home, we are all inundated, and almost always struggling to separate the interesting and the relevant from the noise.
We search online for that next great birthday gift, we ask our friends for the best new dinner spot, we scroll through our timelines for the next meme to give us a laugh after a long day. Whether we’re working or at home, we’re almost always logged on and plugged in, navigating a constant stream of comments, likes, shares and opinions.
And our customers by and large are no different. They have problems to solve and things to do, and also must navigate streams of information to find solutions to their needs and wants.
Attention today is hard to earn. Even when it seems like attention can be bought, it’s usually not from the people you want, or not the type of attention that lasts.
Which brings us back to that starting question. How do the best marketers and brands get ahead and stay ahead?
Credibility for a start. By investing time and effort in understanding the problems that their target prospects or existing customers are trying to solve, and finding more and ways to become a credible source of support.
Which brings us to why I believe that credible, relevant content and brand storytelling must be a foundational pillar of the marketing strategy for every Caribbean marketer.
Relevant content that solves problems drives results.
Your customers have problems to solve. We all do. And to solve those problems we usually start with information sources we trust. Our family and friends, our social networks, our trusted websites, other customer reviews.
Some of those problems are information driven. Could be that search for a dinner reservation at a hot new restaurant for a hot date. Could be a search for something entertaining to pass the day.
Whatever that problem your focus customer has, today’s marketing leaders intuitively understand that in a world where information is at most people’s fingertips, being a solution is better than being noise.
Imagine for a moment you’re in the Kitchen re-modelling business in the Caribbean. You’ve got a website, you do social media, and you advertise monthly in the press and select relevant magazines.
What does your customer who is looking to rebuild their kitchen do? Well often they may not know precisely what they want. In fact, they may not ever start out thinking that they precisely need to remodel their kitchen.
They might first be talking to family and friends about ideas for home improvement. They may ask for recommendations on providers that people have used, but just as often they may start by checking out HGTV online or TV. They may seek out inspiration, browsing Pinterest boards they find after a few Google searches.
It’s only as they begin to form the idea of the solution they need that they really start trying to find a provider, talking to family and friends, putting out a call on their social networks. They still may not know what they don’t know about the pitfalls of home improvement. The hidden costs and pains.
These are opportunities for adding value that many Caribbean marketers miss. Thinking through the problems and challenges that someone who is at the awareness or consideration stage has and finding ways to become a credible resource is a HUGE opportunity.
In a world where most people don’t engage sources of supply or product owners until they’ve done huge amounts of their own research, I might argue that it’s essential to be a part of the buyer decision journey.
The preferred “choice” tends to become that way because they were credible and vetted. Vetted either by trusted information, reliable recommendations, personal experience or all of the above.
Becoming credible in today’s digital age, almost always means investing in relevant content, and lots of it. And this is where I dispel some myths. Creating content that is just more noise is pretty easy. Creating content that solves problems is time consuming, and expensive, and even if you create great content, you’ve got to follow it up with great distribution.
Then again, if it was easy, everyone would do it.
Caribbean Brands have started making their way in the content game
The world’s most innovative brands are deeply invested in content creation, content marketing, having figured out that “hard sell”, interruption advertising drives at best short-term gains, not long-term influence.
Most marketers know that they can’t afford to stay on the sidelines much longer. And the statistics speak for themselves.
Smart Insights, an education and data marketing platform, recently reported that 69% of B2B organizations had a documented content strategy as of 2020. Additionally, blog content has become pivotal to marketers and the way they reach out to their target demographic. That’s at least what 55% of them say. It’s not surprising given that people use Google and other search engines to find the information they need. Content in written form can be categorized, ranked and help you to be found, driving audience and new prospects to the top of your funnel.
As a marketer, I always try to help people understand as well, that created content, is not the same as social media. Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIN, and Instagram have become the digital watering holes of the modern era, but they are ultimately really distribution channels for great content. Having presence and a regular stream of posts that are commentary, or links to curated content will only get you so far.
So where can you look for some regional inspiration?
Here are 4 examples, that we think are doing great, but all of whom have some opportunity to keep going and find new levels.
First a brand we respect that is not a Synapse Client: Sacha Cosmetics.
Sacha Cosmetics has been around for over 40 years and they epitomise what we love at Caribbean Ideas, namely an indigenous brand that does great business at home, but has also been able to go compete on a global level abroad.
Sacha Cosmetics time and again shows an ability to capture their target demographic’s attention with simple, yet engaging content, often distributed via their social media networks.
This example from their Facebook page is simple, clear and effective. And we like the ways that they speak their audience’s language, while also driving product awareness in an engaging way.
They’ve also done some investment in helpful content that is what I’d call brand adjacent. I buy your product to achieve or solve a problem. In the case of make-up it might be to look beautiful.
So, providing video content on the Artists in Action section of their website to help customers figure out how to do this well has value, and also demonstrates them as a credible resource.
Now I’m nothing if not a company man, so of course I have to come a bit closer to home with an existing Synapse client example. We’ve been on a super interesting journey with Republic Bank, that involved first architecting their digital strategy, and then helping them to implement it.
As the bank has evolved in this aspect of its marketing, we’ve found them much more willing to embrace finding ways to connect to what is on their customer’s agenda.
On social media channels, this has meant a deeper focus on being part of conversations that are relevant, focusing less on products to be sold, and more on conversations, and being more willing to be colloquial. For a bank founded in 1837 with tons of history, systems and ways of doing things, this is a real adaptation to the modern marketing world.
Or another great example has been the bank’s willingness to do more story-telling around the topic of social good and impact in the community. Investing for example in a content program called Betheone that encourages anyone to do their part to make a better world and tells the stories of people who do is another example of driving brand resonance and affinity by creating content that is off the beaten path,
Finally for a non-digital example that’s also close to home, is our client Coors who embraced an idea to create a different type of content. An experience!
I tell anyone who will listen that content takes many forms. Written, video, interactive, live event. Come on we’re Carnival country, we all know that!
Coors embraced the that an event experience as part of their #refreshthesummer campaign could drive brand awareness and impact, and they were right. The event itself was a success in creating a new interaction point for the brand with current and prospective customers at Maracas Bay, Trinidad, but telling the story of the event was also powerful, driving reach to over 365,000, and an engagement rate of 32%.
If these companies can begin to embrace and experiment with created, owned content, then so can you. Content creation can play a pivotal part in your brand and business success in 2020 and beyond, heping you to acquire prospects, engage existing customers, deepen relationship and re-frame brand perception for the better.
Chike Farrell is co-founder and Chairman of Caribbean Ideas Synapse. He straddles the agency owner and the client world, working full time in the Pacific Northwest, running global marketing for a cloud software company. He’s hugely passionate about modern, technology driven marketing, and seeing Caribbean companies become more competitive and influential.