Are you having trouble getting your firm’s message heard? You’re not alone. The sheer volume and spread of global information flows is growing exponentially, and this can sometimes make the task of building your brand online seem insurmountable.
Just look at the stats: by mid-2019, there were 4.2 billion internet users globally and 1.7 billion websites. Each day, 120 billion emails are sent, 3.1 billion Google searches are made, 2.9 million blog posts are written, and 352 million tweets are sent.
Confronted by these mind-boggling statistics, is it any wonder that so many of us feel overwhelmed by the informational overload, jaded by competing claims on our attention and seeking respite from a world where the noise seems to be growing ever louder?
For a small business seeking to differentiate itself in a highly competitive marketplace, the instinct might be to surrender. Surely, you may think, trying to build engagement in the face of this firehose of undifferentiated data is pointless.
But don’t despair! Building an effective marketing strategy in this noisy environment begins by understanding what people are looking for. Think about it: if the rare commodity is not information, but people’s attention, then there is value in curation.
Consumers are seeking to simplify their information sources. Instead of searching all over the web, wasting time and getting more and more frustrated, they want the most relevant, engaging, and actionable information to come to them.
This was once the role of traditional media outlets. Newspaper editors would select the information that they thought their readers most needed to know about, and present it to them in an engaging, accessible way.
Those functions are now available to anyone with their own website, blog, LinkedIn page, or Twitter account. For businesses, it provides an opportunity to build a community around common interests and shared content — with the firm itself at the centre.
Think of a company that specialises in walking holidays. Its natural market might be fit, outdoorsy types with a passion for nature and history. Its social media might feature client-written accounts of tour highlights with photos to match. There might be a forum about the best walking gear and where to find it, top tips on training, and recommendations on natural history guides.
The point is that this information is not traditional marketing or selling. It’s about providing people who have these shared interests with an online space where they can find relevant and engaging information that they will be more likely to share with others who have similar outlooks.
The upside for the firm is that, by providing the rallying point for this community of interest, it has tapped directly into its desired market and can discover more about what they want. And by helping them to have good experiences, it builds up invaluable goodwill.
As for marketing, that is done by the customers themselves. Think of Amazon. Its book-selling website is the final point of a journey that might begin for the customer by sharing recommendations and reviews with other enthusiasts on Goodreads (a website that Amazon owns).
The world is full of information. But you can take that firehose, and turn it into a tap that your audience can draw on at their own convenience.