Are you a content creator yet? It couldn’t hurt. Jason Falls
has a lot — a LOT — of info to share.
The self-described “pundit” (“expert” seems a bit too self-important for his tastes) is digging deeply into the universe of branding, social media, and SEO practices at the CEDIA® 2017 Business Xchange. Admittedly, any one of these topics could chew up days’ worth of presentations, but Falls is intent on nailing as much Jell-O to the wall as he can in a single morning.
Falls starts with helping the attendant integrators and other define their brand; he points out the different experiences one has at Carmax versus a traditional dealer, how Chik-Fil-A employees always respond with “My pleasure.” He’s got exercises aplenty for the group: How do you want your brand to be viewed — more as a “personable/friendly” or “corporate/professional” entity? Cutting-edge or established? Serious or fun?
Next, Falls asks the room to pick single words to sum up the firm’s vibe, noting that the best brands are the ones that match what they’re putting out with customers are picking up: “Do your customers feel the way you WANT them to feel about your company?” The variables here are astonishing, covering everything from the “voice” in the text of a company’s ad copy to the fonts and colors that appear on a firm’s site — and the feelings all of those elements convey.
There’s another factor here, too, one that can be downright elusive: a company’s vision statement. This isn’t to be confused with a “business objective” (as in, “We offer the best smart home solutions in the Tri-State area!”) but is more about evoking a deeper philosophy. An example? “IKEA creates a better everyday life for many people.” You’ll note that IKEA’s statement says nothing about furniture — but it is something the company’s management refers to when confronted with decisions large and small. It’s a blueprint — albeit one viewed from 30,000 feet. The Logo’s Perfect — Now What?
Of course, now that you’ve established That Perfect Intention, you’ve got to get it to people. After the website’s built and you’ve begun dipping your toe into social media, remember this: an email opened by a potential lead is five times more effective than a widely-viewed Facebook post. This sharing of links and info from person-to-person — buzzily referred to as “dark social” — means that those who are really interested in something are having that something delivered directly, not stumbling across it in a news feed.
Still, the combination of social popularity, good reviews, “inbound links” (other sources mentioning your stuff), and authoritative content all contribute to what Falls calls “Google juice,” that magic elixir that vaults your company into the top five when it comes to organic search results in your neighborhood. The model of advertise and/or get referrals that was once fairly linear has turned into a web (pun intended) of leads and research, and one way to be at the center of that web is to bait your hook with content. Content Can Be — Almost Anything
Falls uses a “Three Rs” guide to illustrate the way most small businesses like integration firms bring in leads: Relationships (the folks who you know directly), Referrals, and ‘Round Here (the curious folks who were just driving by the shop or saw the truck in front of a neighbor’s place).
How to move beyond that limited orbit? One way is to create content and the promote that content via social media or in reply to an email request.
Of course, there a rub, and Mr. Falls hears you: You have no time/resources/money/skills to make a quality video.
Ah, but content doesn’t have to be complex. Do you get questions from customers via email or the phone? Do you answer those questions with thoughtful replies? Of course, you do — and that simple Q&A can become a content piece. Congrats. Now you’re publishing.
A Boost is Good, Promotion is Better, an Email is Best
Of course, creating content that no one sees does you no good — you don’t bake a cake and throw it in the trash (unless, of course, you’re a really bad cook). Falls is a big fan of Facebook’s ad manager, and one can experiment with targeting specific demos for a small amount of money. In a world that’s maximizing lead generation, a wise business developer might:
- Create some compelling and authoritative content (you’re a home tech expert, yes?)
- Tease just a little of that content on social media (“For the other nine things to consider when adding smart home tech, click here”)
- And have the customer land on a form that asks them to opt in to an email list. As soon as they do, reply with that awesome PDF of “Ten Things to Consider When Adding Smart Home Tech,” and boom, you’re building more leads.
The above processes were just the tip of a veritable iceberg of knowledge that Falls brought to the Business Xchange table — but we’re already recruiting him to share more of this presentation in upcoming issues of CEDIA Communicates.