Look at all the verbiage on the net about content marketing, having a personal brand, being a substantial presence on social media, and all the rest of the stuff. Really it is all about one simple idea, making yourself easy to find, then engaging the finder in a conversation that leads to a relationship. With good marketing comes the opportunity to turn that relationship from a casual one into a commercial one.
The days of putting a few advertisements out there, and making yourself available, are over. Everything has been commoditised, supply chains disintermediated, information ubiquitous, and terms and prices transparent.
Those in the market for something now do their research on line, sometimes “road-test” the product (weather it be a car of pair of jeans) in a bricks and mortar retailer, come to a decision and purchase, all in a set of discrete actions over which the seller has no control, and often is totally unaware of it going on. It is this loss of control of the process that makes the huge difference between now and just 15 years ago, when the retailer had the control of the information, and the location.
The initiative is in the hands of the buyer, so the game as a seller is not to have the product the buyer wants available when they want it, in the specifications required, but firstly to be found, all the rest comes later.
Buyers move through a cycle, from recognising the need, setting themselves a budget, doing research, creating a short list, and making the final choice. The earlier in the process a seller can be a part of the consideration, the greater the chance they will be there at the end.
It is in this new process of “engagement” with potential as well as current customers that is the value of content.