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Content Marketing

4 Ways Brands Can Connect with Their Audiences Through Storytelling

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When it comes to people following what someone’s doing online in a certain community, people always want to follow a person more than a brand.

Why? Because people connect with stories.

And it’s far easier for people to relate to an individual person, because it’s just them. It’s just that person sharing what they enjoy, what makes them tick, their personal thoughts. It’s authentic. It’s organic.

Whereas the voice or message of a brand that may have gone through six or seven rounds of figuring out how to make a post look or sound just right before putting it out in front of the world is just not as authentic. It’s not raw, because it’s been edited and tweaked.

Brands usually have multiple people representing it, and because of that there’s all these moving pieces which are just harder for people to relate to. But that doesn’t mean that brands are incapable of connecting with their audience through storytelling.

Brands do have a story to tell. Everybody’s got a story. After all, they’re made up, organized, and run by people. The challenge is figuring out how to get all of those people to be on the same page of the story.

The key is creating continuity by getting behind the bigger vision of the organization. The mission and vision of a business is the story. The mission is about what you as a brand are trying to accomplish, the emotion you’re trying to evoke in your audiences, and the message you’re trying to convey.

Mission and story go hand in hand. Because to connect with that mission, people are going to want to hear a story.

mission and story go hand in hand

Know the Elements of a Good Story

Before we move into specifics, let’s talk about what actually makes a good story:

  • A character people can relate to: People want to be able to see pieces of themselves in a character or individual so that they’re able to relate.
  • Purpose for the character: The character has to be pursuing something, some sort of goal. For example, The Modern Marketer’s goal is to build a platform and help others grow.
  • Emotion: Every story has ups and downs as the character deals with conflict. A real story will evoke emotion.
  • Resolution, Closure: Not all stories end positively, but people want some sort of closure for every story. In a brand’s case, this would be a solution they’re providing.

Knowing these elements are key to understanding how to connect with your audience as a brand.

elements of a story

And knowing that people connect with individuals easier, here are some tips for brands to make those similar connections with their audience through storytelling:

Bring your Audience on a Journey

A few years ago when I was getting ready to go to South America for seven months, I was trying to raise money for my trip. I decided that I wanted people who were donating money to be a part of this story and part of my journey.

My mission going down there was to discover my passion, serve people, grow, and travel. So I tried creating content that really spoke to those things. When I talked to people about donating, I encouraged them to follow me on social media so they could share in my experience and really appreciate where their money was going.

By doing it in this way, people were motivated to donate money and followed me through my experiences in South America through the content I made.

Brands can replicate this by knowing what their mission is and creating content that speaks to that mission. The more they develop their mission through content, the more they share their story.

know your brand mission

One great example of a brand that does this is a business called Startup Camp. The owner, Dale Partridge, helps people and businesses create audiences and follow their dreams through business.

He has about 63.4k followers on Instagram and 95% of the time his posts are pictures of himself, him and his wife, or his family. And the captions on his photos are geared towards husbands and fathers, giving them encouragement and advice on how to be a better Godly husband and Godly father.

I follow him because I know that there’s going to be some piece of knowledge or wisdom I can take away from him and implement in my own life. And he’s doing it all by telling stories with his images. It’s far more relatable for me to relate to him as a person than to him as a company.

Connect with Influencers

The bigger the brand, the harder it can be for them to connect with their audience. But by integrating relatable individuals into their marketing strategy, brands are better able to relate to their audience.

For example, a few days ago Derek, Chad, and I were looking at the Nike basketball Instagram feed for some ideas on how to structure our images for our Palizay Media account. Now, Nike is a big brand, but one thing I noticed is that they often feature famous athletes. These athletes’ faces are popular and well-known, and people are quicker to connect with those individuals than the brand Nike.

Then you see the shoes those individual athletes are wearing, and the mind makes a connection between the individual and the brand.

Using influencers and personalities that people pay attention to is a great way to get brands to connect with their audiences on a more personal level. Now, not all of us can afford to get some famous professional athlete, but there are still influential people out there that we can collaborate with to help amplify and enhance our story.

use influencers to connect with your audience

For example, a small brand in the fitness industry might consider contacting a micro-influencer like our client Swolenormous. Though he’s not a world-famous fitness guy, he’s got massive influence and a huge personality. This is an influencer that a small business would greatly benefit from in helping to tell their story.

So if you can connect with an influencer in your industry, your brand’s story will become far more relatable to your audience just by having that person’s face in your content.  

Be Vulnerable

Maybe you’ve brought your audience on your journey and you’ve used influencers to tell your story and you’re still having a hard time getting your audience to connect with your brand.

It’s important, then especially, to remember that people will have a hard time connecting with you if you seem like you have it all together. You have to create humble content.

You have to create content where you’re putting yourself in the shoes of your audience.

put yourself in their shoes

Here’s an example: Nike is very corporate and professional, and not everyone in their audience is going to be able to easily relate to professional basketball players because 99.99% of their audience will never be professional basketball players.

In order to connect with them on a deeper level, they could make a series of posts showing kids playing basketball on the streets of Chicago or Philadelphia. By showing imagery like that, the audience is much more able to relate.

If brands could just use more imagery and language that’s humbling, showing the broader spectrum of where their audience is coming from and who they are, they would be able to have a greater connection with their audience.

So if you have a brand, connect with your audience by talking about and showing situations that your audience is going through or facing. This is a good way to show authenticity and rawness in your brand, and that you’re not just some entity that has it all figured out. Everyone has ups and downs, so reflect this in your brand to your audience.

Use Visuals to Evoke Emotion

While people often think of stories as being linear, they really don’t have to be in order for people to connect with them. The truth is that people connect with visuals far quicker than they do with text, and creating visuals are just glimpses of a larger journey.

It’s not just words that tell stories. Visuals can tell stories by the details that go into their composition…

  • The Subject
  • Lighting
  • Color saturation
  • Movement/Posture
  • Angle

These are all details that tell stories on their own. They evoke emotion in the viewer. Not just through images, but especially through video.

how visuals can tell a story

You can achieve storytelling through the subject that you’re shooting in a video. What race or nationality is the person? What are their surroundings? What’s the scenery like— are they in a back alley? A beach? Mountains?

Then after you’ve created the video and you’re in the editing process, you can develop more story. You can develop more story by focusing on details that evoke emotion.

With lighting, if you’re shooting a video where you’re using only one overhead spot and it’s shooting straight down on the subject while everything else is dark, it’s going to evoke an emotion of tension and angst because of the hyperfocus on that one subject.

With color, if you want more saturated imagery, that’s going to evoke more energy and excitement. Whereas, if there’s not a lot of contrast in color it will create a more somber mood.

With movement and posture, if you’re shooting a subject on a couch with their elbows resting on their knees looking like they just got a terrible phone you can communicate sadness. Similarly, you can evoke feelings of happiness by depicting a girl running to a baggage claim at the airport to meet her boyfriend returning from the war.

With angles, if you’re shooting a video of a person at a 45 degree angle, it’s going to evoke feelings of distress and tension in the viewer because that’s not normally an angle you see of a person.

All of these are examples of visual elements creating moods, moods in which you’re telling a story. The choices you make in the production and post-production process will determine the story that unfolds.

And by making these choices consistently to create moods, you start to put together the larger story piece by piece.

Conclusion

It will always be easier for individuals to connect with people than it is for brands to connect with people. But by knowing the elements of a good story and implementing them into your marketing, brands can achieve this connection. By bringing your audience on the journey of your mission, developing your mission through story, your audience can be right there with you.

Using influencers to help develop that story and being vulnerable in your storytelling process will demonstrate authenticity in your brand. And the visual elements you use in photos and videos will help evoke emotion in your audience that go beyond what words can do.

Document your journey with consistency. That’s what will keep people interested. People can take what you do and implement it in their own lives, because they will give attention to the brands doing thing that they didn’t expect.

Jordan is a graphic designer, photographer, and filmmaker currently living in Raleigh, North Carolina. His passion is helping people and brands tell their stories through design and visual media.

Content Marketing

Marketing Debates 001 – Email Marketing, Websites, SEO and Social

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Do you need a website in 2018

Disclaimer: This article is not edited, pre-prepared, or embellished.

This series of posts and articles is called Marketing debates and are meant to be raw, off the cuff conversations about marketing topics.

It’s quite simple.

I post questions as polls on social media and the audience answers at scale.

Of course, I am assuming that most people would answer correctly based on the context of their life and business.

I am a firm believe that benchmark reports and most surveys and data are somewhat skewed.

What I love about this approach to gathering data around opinions, however, is that it is as close to real time as possible.

Most companies have to spend months, and some years, gathering answers, data, segmenting, analyzing etc., before they release reports.

This is asked, posted, answered and documented within 24 hours AND it’s left as a permanent post that people can continue to add to as they see fit.

ALL of that opening jargon to say, we are going to do this weekly so we as a community have a pulse on what’s in and what’s not.

When you see a marketing debate article (or the original questions on social media) you can trust that this community answers questions honestly and with the overall goal in mind that human 1-on-1 connection is how you grow a brand in a modern world.

We, at The Modern Marketer, will provide our $.02 on each topic to further the conversations.

Let’s go.

P.S. Most of these questions have hundreds of answers and as we continue to do this, those numbers will jump into the thousands really quick. (Just so you understand the growing sample size.)

Is Email Marketing still effective?

Audience answer:

email marketing still effective

Our take:

It’s not obsolete, yet.

Especially if you do it right.

Yes, of course it’s becoming more and more common that users primarily use social messaging and text messaging to communicate not only with friends and family, but with brands and organizations as well.

There are, however, plenty of aspects of marketing where email marketing is still more than relevant.

Here’s the catch…

We believe that if you’re doing email marketing in 2018 and beyond, it better be automation.

Automation will allow you to have nurturing touch points with the users coming into your brand so you can do a few things:

  1. Have context with your messaging—putting the right messages in front of the right people at the right time. This allows you to avoid the dread “EMAIL BLAAASSSST” which essentially tells your audience they aren’t important enough to know what personally makes them, well…them.
  2. Begin scoring leads—you need to segment your leads based on how they interact with your brand and ultimately determine who is a sales qualified lead and who is a marketing qualified lead.
  3. Save you time—let’s be real, if you don’t know what marketing automation is, that’s step one. And a big step at that. If you do know what it is, you understand that to do it right, it requires a TON of upfront work—though it will save you thousands of hours and endless amounts of resources in the long run.

The reality is that every business has steps, processes and communication touch points that need to happen when a customer purchases a product or service from them. Most of the time, when lacking automation, this is done manually. Random phone calls, emails, scratch notes, customer profiles, or a combination of several software solutions that don’t talk to each other.

Having automation in place allows you to automate those repetitive process so you can nurture and segment leads and customers that come into your brand.

Our official vote: Yes, it’s still effective.

Do you need a website in 2018 and beyond to sell stuff?

Audience answer:

do you need a website

Our take:

It really depends on the variables.

Notice the question specifically says “…to sell stuff.”

The idea was to get people thinking about how accessible it is to come up with a brand, get content online, and sell stuff without a website.

This was BY FAR the most debated and answered question. Everyone had a rebuttal, on both sides.

We believe that depending on the variables, you may need one. But in most cases you don’t…

…to sell stuff, that is.

Sure, if you want to show that you have a presence and you want to build domain authority and tap into organic traffic because you’re at that stage in your business, then you do need a website. I.e. Many of my startup clients, historically, that were $1m and up in revenue definitely needed website. They didn’t need them to make the first million though. 

My biggest frustration with those that vote yes, is that most of them are romantic about websites and SEO.

I think the need for a website is very subjective and often prioritized for the wrong reasons.

I look at it from the standpoint of human behavior.

From a product standpoint, more and more humans are buying most of their goods from 2 places:

  • social media
  • large marketplaces (Amazon)

From a services standpoint, more and more humans are also buying their services from 2 places:

  • social media
  • large market places (Air BnB, Uber, etc. Not to mention most service industries have listing sites and marketplaces that business owners sell most of their accounts from.) 

And what’s interesting is more and more platforms like Instagram and FB are allowing direct selling from the site…for all things.

So, whether your goal is to get someone in contact with you (on the phone), fill out a form, learn more about your business, download something, etc (traditinally goals of your website) you can actually now do all of those things on social media.

And more effectively.

It my not feel as natural to you (the business owner or executive) but it is the most natural process for most users.

Where I think websites are more traditionally needed is with larger priced items or older demographics. Larger priced items being things like appliances, equipment, technology, transportation, etc., and older demographics tailoring to things like healthcare, and so on.

But if you add those variables up, that hardly makes up the majority of people online.

In fact, that’s a very small percentage of people online considering the maturing generations joining the workforce and having more and more purchasing power.

Our official vote: No, you don’t need one. However, we are writing a HUGE follow up piece on this to make sure we are very clear on this message.

Is SEO dying in a social evolving world?

Audience answer:

Is seo dying

Our take:

Notice how we framed the question “…in a social evolving world.”

SEO isn’t dying.

How we think about SEO is dying.

SEO is just evolving.

Search engine optimization is just that—the optimizing of content within a search engine so it’s more discoverable to the right people.

By definition, it’s “the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.”

Well, guess what?

Social platforms ARE mini search engines, firstly. Secondly, with the advancement of voice activated search queries, SEO is simply evolving.

No longer are we attempting to land the top spot on the SERPs to drive massive traffic to a site.

Now we are simply aiming to distribute a high level of quality, original content within the new environments of social media and marketplaces. That way when people interact on social media or purchase things in a marketplace, our brands, organizations, products and services are a part of the buyer journey.

Why?

So we control the attention throughout the buyer journey of:

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Decision

Humans spend most of their time in the awareness and consideration stages of the journey, yet businesses spend most of their time optimization for the decision stage. What are we left with?

…law of averages.

And that’s not what SEO was intended for.

Our official vote: No, SEO isn’t dead, it’s evolving.

In terms of social media posting, what’s more important for building community?

Audience answer:

quality vs quantityOur take:

There is clearly a misunderstanding here.

Building communities is something that The Modern Marketer’s foundation derives from.

It’s how I built my first business, my hundreds of client’s businesses, and the current endeavor of The Modern Marketer.

Quality should be a goal, incrementally.

But, without a shadow of a doubt, QUANTITY is the game.

This is where most brands are losing for 1 of 2 reasons:

  1. They use quality as an excuse as to why they aren’t on social every day, why they aren’t creating content every day and why their brand(s) have little to no awareness.
  2. People create for quality instead of impact. If they DO decide to create content, they try to make these immaculate pieces and then forget one MAJOR part. Distribution. If no one sees it, it doesn’t exist.

Don’t mistake quantity for the need to MAKE more. It’s the need to DISTRIBUTE what you have made, more.

That’s why we preach the concept of the Power 120. Creating a foundation of scrappy content that you distribute to your audience at scale.

More at bats, more wins, more conversations, more leads, customers, sales and advocates.

Quantity is the game.

The trick is that after you master quantity, you slowly increase the quality over time.

THINK ABOUT IT:

All of your favorite accounts and brands online are quantity of quality. Comedians, meme accounts, commentary, personalities, creatives, etc.

Some categories and industries naturally hold more quality than others (i.e. if a photographer posts a lot of content, it’s going to look quite a bit better than most because that’s also what they are selling.)

Not to mention almost EVERY VIRAL VIDEO you’ve ever seen on social media is not “quality.”

Our official vote: QUANTITY. Post more, create more, distribute more. Put in your 10,000 hours of creating and storytelling and eventually the quality will catch up.

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Content Marketing

How to Jack Attention from News & Trends

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the dos and donts of newsjacking

What is newsjacking?

Newsjacking is the process of following the topics and trends that are happening in industries relative to your business so that you can tap into audiences that are already interested in something that’s happening now.

One of the things we talk a lot about as marketers is “keywords.”

We all want to know what people are typing into that search bar on Google so that we can connect them first.

That’s what SEO and SEM is all about.

But what we don’t talk about as much are the topics and trends that are happening so fast that Google, SEMrush, BuzzSumo, Alexa, or whatever keyword tracking tool you may be using isn’t tracking on it.

They’ve already missed it.

That’s where newsjacking comes into play.

If you’re paying attention to what’s happening on the news—or trending on Google, Twitter and Facebook—there’s an opportunity here to grab attention that a keyword tracker won’t be quick enough to show you.

If your brand has a relevant stance or positioning on a specific topic or trend that’s happening right now and you can provide legit content around that topic, then you can tap into new audiences.

Audiences that would never find you if you hadn’t showed up in their search query about that topic or trend.

Newsjacking, or trendjacking as some call it, is a lot like influencer marketing.

The only difference is there’s not a third party involved.

The topic itself is the influencer.

The topic has that attention.

What you’re really doing is attention jacking.

But here’s the thing about newsjacking: It can work really great for bringing traffic to your business, but it can also go horribly wrong if you’re not careful.

There’s a lot of factors at play when you’re hopping on a trend, so you have to be wary of your timing, your message, and your context. There’s a fine line you have to walk for newsjacking to work for you.

I’m going to break this down for you with some do’s and don’t’s of newsjacking so you can understand where that line is.

Let’s get it.

DO Your Research

You have to keep in mind that trending topics, particularly ones in the news cycle, are always developing stories.

So when a story first breaks, that’s only a part of it.

Most of the time, it’s better to wait a bit until there’s more information out there before you write about a news topic.

do your research

Otherwise, if you’re too quick to publish, you could miss out on some critical information that drops later—information that could have been even more useful for your content had you known it before publishing.

Avoid “more later…as it develops” type of talk.

You really want to get as much information as possible before writing. In this day and age where everyone’s wary of fake news, it’s important to get your facts straight and to be as accurate as possible. Or else you risk losing credibility with your audience.

So spend some time browsing the news sites, the comments sections, and talk to other people about the topic. Sometimes people in your immediate circles have some insight on the topic you may not have thought about before.

DON’T Write Without Providing Context

If a topic isn’t relative to your industry and you write about it anyway, it’s really not going to make sense. Maybe you’re passionate about that topic and you have thoughts about it, but it’s not going to do you any favors within the context of your business.

Sorry, but your audience doesn’t care about news topics unless it affects them.

On the other side of the coin, you always have to keep in mind who you’re writing for (or speaking to, if it’s on video or audio). A topic you’re covering could be relevant to your industry, but if it’s not filtered into a context that makes sense for who you’re trying to sell to, it doesn’t make sense for your business.

Always keep your buyer persona in mind. Here are some questions to ask yourself when considering a news topic or trend to cover:

  • Is this relevant to my industry?
  • Could my buyer persona connect to this topic?
  • Can I bridge this topic directly to value that my business can provide?

DO Provide Value

Here’s the thing about trending topics: a lot of people have something to say about them.

That’s why they’re trending.

Your objective in newsjacking is finding a way to offer some new thoughts on the given topic. Something unique.

provide something unique

It can be difficult, particularly if there are already a flood of thoughts out there on the matter. But it comes easiest if a topic comes up that you find yourself passionate about. Chances are if you’re passionate about it, you have some value to offer on that topic.

You know we’re all about value over everything.

With newsjacking, it’s no different.

When you’re writing or speaking about a topic, your goal first and foremost needs to be to provide some sort of value.

DON’T Newsjack Just to be Heard

Look, consistency in producing content is important. And newsjacking may look like a shining opportunity to add to your growing archive of content, but if you’re just doing it to check off a box you’re not going to get the results you want.

Just like with any content you produce, it has to provide value. If your newsjacking just adds to the noise out there, you’re wasting your time and effort.

Plenty of people produce content to get attention. But nobody will be interested in your content if it’s lacking of substance. Give people a reason to read or watch or listen to your newsjacked content.

Ask yourself: Why would people want to read this as opposed to any other thoughts on this trend? What does it offer that other content doesn’t?

DO Captivate People

Some people are reluctant when it comes to newsjacking, particularly if there’s a political element to the given topic. But a lot of times, controversial topics are the ones that really grab people’s attention.

And you want that attention. You want to engage people and get them going. You want that discussion. And sometimes, a little controversy can be good.

You can go to far

As long as you can engage people in a relevant way that makes sense for your brand, that’s good attention.

However, be warned: You can go too far…

DON’T Be So Controversial that you Divide your Audience

Yes, engagement and discussion and attention are all good things.

But if you’re not careful about what you’re writing or saying, you can end up dividing your audience and losing attention.

With political topics especially, you have to be aware that people in your audience have hard set opinions. And if you challenge these opinions too much, your newsjacking efforts will backfire.

Be careful when you’re taking a stance on a certain topic. The more context you provide, the more viewpoints you can write or speak about in relation to the topic, the better your chance of not dividing people.

Or, don’t bring in any viewpoints and just use the topic as a jumping off point to talk about something more relevant to your brand.

So represent as many perspectives as possible, or represent none of them.

Don’t speak to divide, speak to unite around your brand value.

DO Make it Evergreen, If you Can

We talk a lot about evergreen content, and producing value that is useful months or even years into the future—not just right now. That can be difficult with newsjacked content since it’s specifically about a topic or trend that’s happening right now.

But if you can take that topic and create value around it that outlasts the relevancy of that topic, that content will still be useful after everyone’s forgot about the topic.
make evergreen content

That’s a powerful thing—being able to immortalize a topic by providing a context of evergreen value around it.

It’s not an easy thing to do by any means. You can still provide value with newsjacked content without making it evergreen, but it’s far more valuable if you do.

DON’T Wait Too Long to Publish your Content

Trends can be here today and gone tomorrow.

If you’re sitting on some content that you wrote on a particular trending topic and you’re waiting to see if any new information will come out about it, you could lose your window of relevancy.

It’s a tricky thing.

You don’t want to publish too soon and risk your credibility, but you also don’t want to publish too late and miss the relevancy of the trend altogether. That’s the point of newsjacking after all— to ride a brief but strong wave of relevancy.

So how do you know when the time is right to publish? When you feel like the trending topic has developed and you have enough information to provide some real contextual value, it’s time to publish.

The value comes from your brand, not from the topic. So publish it once you can provide real value from your brand!

DO Atomize, Break it Down, and Promote It

You want to get as many eyes on your content as possible while the newsjacked topic is still relevant. So like with any content, you have to optimize it for all your platforms.

If you write an article, you can take a quote from it and put it on top of an image for an Instagram post. You can also tweet that quote.

You can make a video about that article and just talk it out. Or if you do a video first, take notes from your video and turn it into an article.

promote your content while it's still relevant

There are tons of ways to break down your content and make it work for any given platform. But whatever you do, make sure you promote it while it’s still relevant. This is a good opportunity to justify some Facebook ad dollars!

DON’T Just Publish the Content and Move On

You may think after you’ve published your content, atomized it, and promoted it, that you’ve done all you can and it’s time to move onto the next piece of content.

Nope. It’s not over. Just because you’ve put your thoughts out there on the topic or trend doesn’t mean the discussion is over. You have to keep monitoring the discussions and engage with others on the topic.

You have made yourself a part of the conversation on that topic, now you need to engage in the conversation until it dies out to get the most out of that window of relevancy.

Make the most out of your content. Engage with others about it.

Conclusion

Newsjacking can be tricky. You have to be careful, and there’s not always a clear right answer to the what, the how, and the when of newsjacking. It can be hard to decide what trends or topics are relevant to your brand, how you’ll provide value in the context of a given trend or topic, and when to publish that content.

But the good news is that the who, the where, and the why are always clear with newsjacking.

Who you’re writing for is always your buyer persona. Where you’re publishing your content is all of your channels (in the format that makes the most sense for that platform). And why you’re newsjacking should always be to provide some unique value or insight from your brand voice.

One thing is for sure: newsjacking takes practice. The more comfortable you get with it, the better you will understand how to successfully newsjack.

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Content Marketing

If Your Business Can’t Create Advocates, You’ve Already Lost

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If Your Business Can't Create Advocates, You've Already Lost

What is a brand advocate?

A brand advocate is someone who will work for your brand by sharing positive sentiments with their communities about your brand.

Brand advocates are the people that scale your business.

The truth is that you can’t scale your business off of one sale. You need sale 2, 3, 4, 5 and beyond. You need depth to scale a business— value that goes far and beyond your product or service.

Having someone who spreads the word and culture of your business is far more valuable to scaling your business than a sale because that credibility, that referral, speaks louder and stronger than any company-led business promotional efforts do.

So how do you get people who can spread the word and culture of your business?

Let’s break it down.

Looking at the Bottom of the ACE Method

If you’ve been a part of this community for more than a week lol, you’ve likely heard about the ACE Method.

Most of the time we just talk about creating conversions.

We stop at the third section of the funnel.

But you can’t scale a business off of just one sale.

So you have your leads, you have your customer base, you have your loyal customer base, and then you have your brand advocates. How do you get people to the bottom of that funnel?

ACE Method - TMM

 

You have to identify the messaging that matches each groups of those people in your sales funnel:

  1. Who are your qualified leads?
  2. Who are the people that you’re going to convert into customers?
  3. Out of those customers, who can I provide more value to and scale to create loyal customers?
  4. Then out of those loyal customers, what kind of ecosystem, code, environment or relationship can I create to make brand advocates?

By brand advocates, we’re talking people you don’t have to pay for their loyalty. It’s just like that Drake line: “They give me loyalty and I don’t gotta pay for it.”

But don’t get it twisted.

Not everyone in your sales funnel can be brand advocates.

Not everyone can be loyal for free.

You need leads

 

There’s a Difference between Customers and Brand Advocates

So what is the difference between a brand advocate and a regular customer? What’s the bottom line?

The bottom line is that customers get something they expect. They pay for that “something” and they get it. It’s just a transaction. But with brand advocates, it’s not a transaction— it’s a journey.

Brand advocates are the people who can journey with you and expand your voice bigger than yourself. If you can get other people in different walks of life to explain the same culture and the same message, the brand message becomes even stronger.

Here is what a brand advocate can offer you that a customer can’t:

  • Accountability to the integrity of your products and services
  • Attention that you wouldn’t normally be able to access
  • Personal check-ins with you and your business
  • Promotion of your business without asking anything in return
  • Skills that you don’t have yourself
  • Introductions to new places and new people
  • Community around your brand

You can make a sale with a customer but you can’t scale your business with that customer like you can with a brand advocate.

you goal is a happy customer

 

But what does it take to bring someone down your sales funnel from the loyal customer base to the brand advocate? Do you need to push your product or service extra hard with these people to get them to want to advocate?

No, no, no. You cannot push a product or service and expect to get brand advocates.

Here’s why…

The Force Behind your Brand

The mistake people all too often make in trying to create brand advocates is that they think they have to convince these people to be die-hard fans of the product or service you’re selling.

And that’s just not the case.

Even if someone is advocating for what you’re selling, it’s not really the product or service that they’re advocating for.

No, seriously.

It’s not.

It’s the culture.

The people.

The vision.

What brand advocates are actually buying into with your brand is something much bigger than the product or service, than you, and even bigger than the business itself.

It’s all about that driving force behind every brand.

I learned this from my own business mentor back in Ohio with this example: Smucker’s went from just selling jams to selling nearly every product in your kitchen.

How?

Not from all the profits they made from selling jams. 

It’s because for so many years they have put an emphasis on their culture— a culture based on growth, clear communication and collaboration, and doing the right thing. Focusing on the core driver behind their products.

These are values that people can rally behind.

Jams are just the product, but their culture is their legacy.

That’s how Smucker’s has come to be recognized in FORTUNE Magazine’s annual listing of “100 Best Companies to Work for in the United States” for many years, even making #1 in 2004.

Smucker’s prioritizes its values over everything else to create brand advocates. Smucker’s puts value over everything.

Value over everything

If you ask me what I sell and I say: “I’m Derek Palizay and I sell marketing services,” I’m telling you the wrong thing. You have to think about what’s behind the product or service you’re selling.

Is it systems?

Is it selling people time?

Is it value based like Smucker’s?

Is it community?

Is it a methodology

Organization?

What’s the bigger picture? What is the driving force behind your brand? Whatever it is, it affects your messaging, your brand voice, and your image.

I can’t tell you what your driving force is, I can just tell you if it exists. When you look at a brand that’s investing beyond just the immediate ROI needs of their company, you can see it. You know culture when you see it.

Once you identify your driving force, you have to center all your marketing efforts around it. And then you have to find the right people to run with…

Finding Good People to Work With

Brand advocates can’t just be anybody.

The relationships you form with your brand advocates have to go deeper than anyone else who may come into your funnel.

To create a true brand advocate, your brand have to be able to create culture and value that’s so inspiring to that person that it helps them hit the next level in their own journey.

I’ve said it already, but I’m going to say it again: Brand advocates do not care about your product or service.

They care about your culture, your loyalty, your character, your higher purpose, your integrity. They care about how you inspire them, how your impact on them is so deep that they can’t resist not being a part of your brand.

Once you know your culture, your brand voice, and what you can bring to the table, you have to supplement it.

That also means making sure you have some kind of vetting process that you bring into your ecosystem, because only the right people, the people who are aligned with your culture and values, are going to help you grow.

You don’t need to hire skill, you need to hire loyalty and you can train skill.

If you invest into storytelling and documenting the journey, you get the inverse effect of people flocking to you— and the right people.

When you’re investing in content and value, your brand grows as a whole. Going to Upwork to find the type of person you want for that just isn’t going to work.

That’s not brand advocacy, that’s outsourcing.

Incubating your Brand Advocates

I’m speaking from tried and true experience when I say that having just five brand advocates trumps 300 people that follow you publicly. Having 10 brand advocates trumps 10,000 people that you think will grow your bottom line business.

The power that has come out of The Modern Marketer Network is truly amazing.

These are people I will roll with for the duration of my career. These are people I will speak on stage with, co-brand with, and share my book and knowledge with. They challenge me, and I challenge them.

This Network is my incubator for my brand advocates.

In order for you to nurture your own brand advocates, you have to find a tactical way to incubate them.

VOE

Whether that’s a private community, private email list, or private mastermind sessions, you have to actually deliver on that value, that family vibe, that cohesiveness.

You have to come up with some code.

Like The Modern Marketer, for example: value over everything. (yes, that’s the hand sign in the picture above “VOE”.)

We’ve created this code inside of our Network that allows our culture to be easily replicated across upbringings, backgrounds, levels of businesses, and experience levels.

People are rolling with a story that is bigger than themselves.

Yet one of the biggest challenges people who follow The Modern Marketer face is that they just can’t get people to care. Here’s what you need to do: go find three people in the next 30 days who can help you grow your business.

Then I encourage you, plead with you, to slow down your roll in marketing and incubate some brand advocates.

Conclusion

Brand advocacy is not about auxiliary salespeople that are happy enough about your product or service that they will talk it up for free. It’s about forming deeper connections with people based on something bigger than your product or service. It’s about creating a driving force that brings people together behind a common purpose.

Brand advocates are the ones who want to be on the front lines with you promoting your culture and values. And if you nurture these people, if you genuinely add inspiring value to their lives that helps them in some significant way on their own journey, you will have a lifetime of scalability.

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