The 5 Facets to Rethink Your Business
There are really five facets of your business that you have to rethink if you want to reach, engage, and become a beloved brand of the transformational consumer. The first is to rethink what you sell. You don't just sell a product. You sell a transformation. And you sell ease, beauty, joy. You sell some incremental improvement to the transformation, to the process of going from having a problem to no longer having that problem. You then need to rethink your competition, which tends to be a big dis-- The competition and focusing on competitive companies tends to be a big distraction for companies as they try to shift into this customer centric way of doing business that we're talking about. So when you rethink your competition, you rethink it through this lens. Your competition is never another company or never another provider of the same service, a similar service that you provide. Your competition is only ever the obstacles that your customer experiences along their transformational ...
journey. So then your role becomes how to innovate from basics on ways that you can use content and product to eliminate obstacles along your customer's journey. The third thing you have to do is rethink your customer, and that involves you understanding that your customer is not just the paying customers base that you have. And it's not even just the target audience, which is a little bit broader than that for your product. It's really any person or being, any being that is trying to solve or facing the problem, the high-scale, human-level problem that your company exists to solve. That's how you understand your customer. And then it becomes, then it becomes your job to define that problem from a high-level, human scale and to do the customer research and journey mapping that allows you to become an expert on their journey. So, now we get to the fourth, which is to rethink your content and marketing. And here's the thing. These conversations, most companies that are trying to resolve the disengagement dilemma, especially with respect to their content, especially with respect to content and marketing, but most companies are looking at things like digital, like social media, going like, I know how, we'll use social media, that will engage people. And then they start doing it. And they realize it's actually really hard to engage people on social media. It's really hard to get people to click on things. It's hard to get people to watch things. In the world of digital and social, specifically around content, there's a conversation happening about how much less people are engaging with content than they were before. As we uptick the volume, the sheer volume of content that we collectively are spraying at people, and they are engaging with it less and less, this conversation, which I have had with many, many companies, reminds me of this funny primate anthropology finding called the Monkeysphere. Have you guys heard of the Monkeysphere? The Monkeysphere, the formal term for the Monkeysphere is Dunbar's number. But the Monkeysphere is basically like a cognitive limit in the primate brain on the number of relationships, meaningful relationships you can have. So they'll literally like notice that a monkey can only have about a hundred other monkeys that they know who they are and they know how they're related to each other. It might be like 120 or something, but it's finite. And the same is basically true for people. Anybody have a Facebook account? You may have 10,000 friends, but do you really meaningfully know who all of that number of people are and know how they're connected? You can only do that with a certain number of people, that's just a limit our brains have. I think that we're kind of hitting like a content Monkeysphere. There's basically like only so many brands whose content we can take in and have a meaningful ongoing engagement type relationship with. And in fact, I think many people who work in content would say that we're kind of all this guy. We're all hiking Mount Content, and we're really close to the peak. We are seeing peak content coming, and it's disturbing people. So what I will say about this, and this sort of goes back, I gave this data point earlier in the series, TrackMaven did an analysis that showed that the volume of brand published content was up 35% year over year, and the customer engagement with that content was down 17%. So truly, it is not just the case that it feels like there's so much more stuff, it's harder to break through. People are actually engaging with branded content less and less as time goes on. So it is, this Monkeysphere concept is real. It is true. People only care about a certain number of things. They only can care about a certain number of things. Generally speaking, one of those things is not your blog or your brand unless somehow that blog or brand is extremely personally relevant to making a change they want to make or making their lives operate in a way that they want their lives to operate. This is so true, and it's true in every kind of content, it's not just true in branded content, it's not just true in digital content. It's true for books, more and more books. It's true for television. One of my favorite writers on the subject of creative flow is a guy named Steven Pressfield. He wrote The War of Art and that trilogy of books. I see some knowing nods. He actually wrote a book maybe 18 months, two years ago, called Nobody Wants to Read Your Expletive. The book is called Nobody Wants to Read Your, expletive is not in the title of the book, I'll allow you to fill in the blank. And the book is actually great if you want to learn how to create content that people do want to read, more for long form, it's more about how to write books and treatments and movies and scripts and screenplays and stuff. So while this picture is dire, we're all looking at peak content, Pressfield says nobody wants to read what we write, the truth is that I've seen the opposite. I've seen what the opposite looks like, and it's possible. At Trulia, people were saying e-mail was dead back then. I was there in 2010-ish, that time frame. People were saying e-mail is dead. Do you all know about all these e-mail businesses now, that send newsletters, make millions of dollars on newsletters? I was sending 10 or 11 million people a week to trulia.com using e-mails that all the marketers I knew were saying we shouldn't even be sending anymore. And I was kinda like, alright guys, well you just don't send them then, I'll be sending mine because they're not dead. But the content we were putting in them was not just promoting us. We had systematically mapped out what the customer's journey from renter to homeowner looks like and we spent all of our time, all of our air time with those e-mails answering their real world questions. And yes, we would bring them back to us to get the answers, but we were legitimately answering their questions from that place of like our job is to be the aide, mentor, guide, tool along your transformational journey. In fact, I actually had one of the most funny and awesome experiences of my content strategy life happen while I was at Trulia, when I got this e-mail from a couple that said, your blog post saved our marriage. And I was like, I do not know what was happening in your marriage that this blog post could save it, but they went on to tell me about how a blog post about how couples, instead of bickering and hashing out and compromising over the nuts and bolts and nitpicks of a property, should first do a vision, a life visioning exercise about what they wanted their life to look like after they were in the home. And somehow in this conversation, these people had this great breakthrough. Again, I was just trying to create content that answered questions and removed frictions we knew people had. So I've seen what it looks like when it works. Remember that as social, as content, as digital marketers, our job is not just to paint these big beautiful stories about our brand. Our job is to really translate our brand, our product, our programs into terms that trigger our customers' pre-existing mental frames for stuff they care about so that they can know when they get the e-mail, like, I already care about this, this is for me. Kinda like how I opened that Blue Nile e-mail because I thought it was about customer engagement when it was actually about engagement rings. They got the verbiage right for me though. And if you understand behavior change, which we've covered some, and you understand the deep human desire for transformation and you understand the basics of story, which we've also talked about some, it becomes a relatively systematic endeavor then to figure out what message to program to what person at what time.