Fighting the firehose
Having trouble getting your firm’s message heard? You’re not alone. The sheer volume and speed of global information flows is growing exponentially, making the task of building your brand online sometimes seem insurmountable.
Just look at the numbers: At the time of writing (August 2019), there are 4.3 billion internet users globally and 1.7 billion websites. So far today (It's 3pm BST), 150 billion emails have been sent, 3.9 billion Google searches made, 3.7 million blog posts written, and 435 million Tweets sent.
Confronted by these mind-boggling statistics, is it any wonder so many of us feel overwhelmed by information, jaded by competing claims on our attention and seeking respite from a world where the noise seems to be growing ever louder?
Differentiation is key
For a small business seeking to differentiate itself in a highly competitive marketplace, the instinct might be to surrender. This firehose of undifferentiated data surely makes any attempt at building engagement with desired markets a pointless exercise.
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.
Why curation is highly valued
Consumers are seeking to simplify their information sources. Instead of searching all over the web, wasting time and ratcheting up their frustration levels, they want the most relevant, engaging and actionable information to come to them.
This is a task that traditional media used to do before they were disintermediated by the web. Newspaper editors would select for their readers the information they thought they needed most to know about, and presented 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, outdoors 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 a forum about the best walking gear and where to find it, top tips on training, and recommendations on natural history guides.
Not traditional marketing
The point is that this information is not traditional ‘marketing’ or selling. It is about providing people with shared interests an area of the web where they can find relevant and engaging information, which they will be more likely to share with others with similar outlooks.
The upside for these potential customers is that someone else is doing the filtering for them, and getting them to the information they need more quickly and efficiently than otherwise might be the case. They join a community of like-minded people.
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 discovers more about what they want. And by helping them have good experiences, it builds up invaluable goodwill.
Leveraging your client base
As for marketing, that is done by clients themselves. Think of Amazon. Its book-selling website is the final point of a journey that might begin for the consumer by sharing recommendations and reviews with other enthusiasts on Goodreads, a website Amazon owns.
The world is still full of information. But instead of a firehose, you have a tap you can turn on and off and one that is conveniently located to your own back garden.