Are you shaping your brand’s content to your customers’ needs? To send the right message, it’s important to know who your consumers are and what about their lifestyles you can offer new or helpful information on. Ebyline spoke with Holly Rollins, president of 10-x Group, a content marketing and public relations company based in Greenville, South Carolina. Holly gave us some insight into her firm helps clients categorize customers with an eye toward content as well as how psychographics, the study of personality, can aid brands in reaching their audience. See what she had to say to make sure your content marketing is on target.
Your blog focuses on content marketing. Is that where you see the most future growth?
I definitely saw the writing on the wall two years ago. Even before then, five years ago, I noticed there wasn’t as much demand for printing and publishing. From a [public relations] standpoint I noticed that the industry was changing, with social media starting to take hold. The whole PR process was changing, too, because it was more difficult to get a reporter or editor on the scene. I recognized that this kind of media was a powerful tool and that we’d have to be a part of that world. Over the last two years I’ve focused on content marketing. It’s been around for ages but now it has a new form: telling stories on the Internet. Those old methods of communication are still there but from a business standpoint if my company was going to remain relevant I had to adapt as well.
In a recent blog post you mentioned psychographics. Could you could tell us more about what it is how it works as an approach to understanding customers?
Psychographics actually was a big buzzword 15 to 20 years ago. Consultants in the field you were looking into would give an analysis of the market and consumers and then you would try to match the advertising method to these consumers. Auto makers were key to this process. You can find that if a person drives this type of car, they probably have this kind of income, drink this kind of wine, live in this kind of neighborhood. Now we’re taking psychographics one step further in another iteration and building personas.
Do you have any examples of psychographics playing a role in your own work?
For one company we’re running focus groups on a limited budget. It’s for a website targeting new and expectant mothers. And we know from our research on digital data and buying habits there are different types of mothers. You can break it down into personas like young mothers, lower income mothers, mothers who work or stay at home, moms with higher income who hire a nanny, and so on. The message needs to be crafted for each persona, and your content needs to be crafted, too. It’s not rocket science, but at the same time, I, as well as my peers, are educating clients that this type of marketing is necessary. It’s been an education process. I’ve been preaching the content marketing gospel like others, like [Content Marketing Institute's] Joe Pulizzi.
What are your steps for understanding an audience and their need? Is there a eureka moment?
We have an audit and discovery process to make sure we have the right profile of the audience. Many large companies may have three types of main decision makers as customers, which is easier than the mothers example. A bigger budget helps because the more primary data you can gather rather than secondary data, the better your findings. A focus group or a sampling survey gives you better results. People are busy, so it’s hard to get responses, but it’s still very necessary. In a perfect world you’d have focus groups and an incentivized digital survey. Overall, business-to-customer is usually easier than business-to-business.
Which brands, local or national, do you think are leading the field in content marketing?
There’s an amazing presentation by Coca-Cola on their digital marketing. It’s the idea of Jonathan Mildenhall; he was behind the Coca-Cola video about their story process. They’ve had some flak recently but what they recognized was that they needed to focus on the Coke story. They’ve done some things to tweak that and their marketing. They’re changing their focus from general creative content to content excellence. Already, that’s my example of what to aspire to. They said, “Yes, we can’t keep doing what we’ve been doing for a century.” They boiled it down to creating excellent content.
A big thanks to Holly for sharing her experiences and thoughts on content marketing. To read more of what Holly has to say, check out her content marketing and PR-oriented blog.