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Content is not king. Communication is.

Almost two decades ago, Bill Gates professed “CONTENT IS KING”! Everyone no matter age, gender, religion or experience is creating it. And, in this competitive, fast-paced digital world, it’s easy to run away with the content-led circus.

It’s easy to forget the purpose of content is to communicate. Even the greatest content in the world is worthless if it does not open the ears, hearts and minds of your audience. It’s not good enough to reach people, you need to move them! So, how do your communications stack up?

12 tips to make communication the jewel in your marketing crown:

1. Plan ahead

Okay it’s not sexy, but planning is essential – if you don’t know where you’re going how will you know when you get there? Are you looking to sell more to existing customers or reach new ones, or both? All valid objectives, but the tactics and strategies to achieve them will differ. A plan will help steer and guide you.

2. Define your audience

Communication is a two-way street. You can create awe-inspiring content with carefully crafted messages, but if it falls on deaf ears it’s a waste of time and money. Each audience will have different needs, expectations and motivations – do you know what yours are?

3. Listen, just listen

Communication is about understanding the person you're talking to, finding out what their interests are and getting on a level with them. Show them you're an expert or, at the very least, an enthusiast in their space and curb the hard sell. Social media is a great way to observe - just sit back, watch and listen!

4. It’s not all about you

When I lose my marketing way or get overexcited by content ideas, I put my consumer hat on and ask “what’s in it for me?” You’ll need to make the benefits of your offering clear and answer this question, long before it crosses their minds!

5. Be authentic

Sorry to break it to you but people rarely want to be sold to. Consumers are savvy – they want authentic communication. Talk like a human being, think about your tone and style. Add value when you can and let conversations develop naturally.

6. Sharing is caring

One of the easiest and free ways to communicate you understanding your audience’s needs and interests is to share like-minded content. It won’t focus on your offering, but could save you time, money and help build relationships. Take inspiration from industry leaders, experts and your own customers! Share content that will resonate and start a conversation!

7. Reduce, re-use, recycle

People have less time, patience and shorter attention spans than ever. Make your words count. Use fewer words and cut out jargon. Re-use content – change images, tweak text and re-post at different times. There’s a good chance someone has done something similar before, so use it as a template and recycle!

8. Show personality

If you’ve listened (tip 3) then you’ll understand the types of content your audience enjoys, so let your personality shine. There’s nothing wrong with throwing in content for pure entertainment. Memes, gifs and hashtags provide a great way to engage online in a relatable and shareable way.

9. Engagement over quantity

You’ll have heard the term “quality over quantity” and the same applies with communication. What’s more valuable – 10,000 likes or 40 replies? Take the time to answer queries and thank people for their feedback, it will help build trust. Traffic size is nice, but truly engaging means more.

10. Mix up mediums

Use a mix of mediums and channels in your communications. Video is great at grabbing attention online, while in-depth articles or blogs can offer a lot of information, which people may want to read and revisit. Think about the purpose and the sort of engagement you want when deciding how to implement.

11. Timing is everything

Creating good content and implementing it well is not enough – knowing when to communicate is just as important. Consider the channels you’re using and the times your audiences are most likely to interact on them. Try using a scheduling tool like Hootsuite to plan and send social media posts at the best possible time.

12. Measure up

Include measures in your plan (tip 1) and check your progress along the way. This will help you to identify anything that’s not working or any issues that arise before it’s too late, helping you to remain agile and save time, money and even market share.

What steps will you take to improve your communications? If you need help with marketing branding, strategy, content or creativity - try the no fluff approach. Our strategic, straight-forward, intelligent approach will help grow marketing confidence and the skills to drive business results.

--- This article first appeared in print in Business Success Magazine, Winter 2017 ---

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