In the days of yore, an official messenger would proclaim the death of a king and the ascension of his heir to the throne with these words:
“The King is dead. Long live the King!”
Today, I come before you in this digital marketing age as a herald with a timely proclamation.
You have no doubt heard that content is king. But now, the reign of that old cliché is dead.
Long live the customer who ascends the throne of commerce with a crown of gold.
Out with the old, in with the new.
Notice I didn’t say that content itself is dead, only the hackneyed expression that presumes its dominance in the online world.
Content is still important for marketing purposes, but content isn’t enough to get the job done. Therefore, the idea of its sovereignty must be put to rest.
The role of content on the Web
If content is not king, then what is the role of content on the Web?
Content serves the reader or customer; it is the Holy Grail of content marketing (if done correctly).
Like the chalice of legend, content in this sense is merely a symbol or container of a higher power in the form of information or knowledge.
For all intents and purposes, the customer is king when it comes to doing business online. This should not be taken to mean that the customer is always right.
What’s that? Do I hear dissent from a commoner? The reader doth protest too much, methinks.
You say there is no place for monarchy on the Internet where the people have democratic access to information. Content rules on the Web, you say with an air of technological sophistication.
I beg to differ. In the new digital economy, the customer rules.
Why the customer is king (and why you should care)
You are correct in saying that the Web is governed according to the principles of democracy.
From the perspective of your buyers, however, the customer has pride of place in your company. So before you rebel against the idea of crowning the customer as the new king, please hear me out.
Five reasons why the customer is king:
- Reason #1: No customer, no business. This is stating the obvious, I know, but need I say more?
- Reason #2: The customer is in control. The Internet has given customers the ability to communicate their buying experiences (both positive and negative) and their preferences in ways you cannot ignore except at your peril.
- Reason #3: Branding equals perception. When building brand awareness, you are influencing how people perceive your company and products. In other words, your business is what your customers think it is.
- Reason #4: A customer is easier to keep. No doubt you understand that it is easier and more cost efficient to retain an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one. Therefore, your focus should be on customer satisfaction and retention.
- Reason #5: Your customer is your marketer. This is the new reality of the Internet. I bet you thought all that money you spend on marketing campaigns was your primary strategy for promoting your products. Au contraire, mon ami.
For all these reasons, the digital commerce world is a customer-centric one. That last reason, in particular, is very important to grasp.
Your primary marketing strategy should be tapping into your online customer base and getting them to spread the word and refer others to you.
How do you do that? I’m glad you asked. The answer is forthcoming in a series of blog posts on engaging web content. This is going to be a wild ride. Hang on tight.
Know your perfect customer (straight from the horse’s mouth)
When content is placed on a pedestal (or throne, as the case may be), web writers make two big mistakes.
- Mistake #1: Writing from the company’s perspective, not the customer’s. Granted, content is an important business asset, but it misses the mark without focusing on the customer first.
- Mistake #2: Writing to a group of people instead of an individual. A corollary to this is trying to please everyone, which means you end up pleasing nobody and missing out on sales.
To avoid these mistakes, you must begin with your perfect customer in mind. The best way to do that is to define your perfect customer in terms of a buyer persona.
A buyer persona is a composite of the information you have gathered about your customers through market research. The persona helps you to understand the characteristics of your ideal customer.
Do you want to know the secret to writing engaging web content? Have a conversation with your persona.
I will have more to say on this in the next post of this series. For now, understand that you are aiming for two things:
- Focus on your customers — their language, needs, and expectations.
- Write to one person — your perfect customer — as if you are writing to a friend.
When you achieve this, you will have discovered the Holy Grail of content marketing.
On temperance as a virtue in content marketing
In the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” the search for the Holy Grail comes down to choosing the real thing from among dozens of fakes. The real grail brings life everlasting; the fake grails bring instant death.
The moral of the story as it applies to content marketing is worth pondering as you pursue the Holy Grail that is web content.
If you choose falsely with the expectation of immediate gratification from a golden chalice, your online business will meet with a swift and painful demise.
If you choose wisely the wooden chalice of a humble carpenter who is not guided by his selfish desires, you will drink from the sustaining waters of life and build a successful online business.
Choose temperance, not greed, and your story will have a happy ending.
The story of your customer, however, has a surprise ending — a plot twist, if you will. You must read to the end of this series of tutorials to find out how this story ends.
As much as this is a journey of self-discovery for you, dear reader, in the end you will learn that the customer doesn’t want to be the king.