[This post is part of the ongoing Better Websites Series.]
By now, we all know that first lesson in marketing is to define your core audience, and the second is to understand what you do best. But, when it comes to creating online content for a social network or blog, things get fuzzy. The question that starts popping around in our head is “will anyone care?”
Before anyone will listen, we need to learn to expand our core.
They Don’t Care
The safest assumption that you can make is to assume that they won’t care. I know, it can be hard to hear, but it is the real truth. If you think about it, there really isn’t a good reason for anyone to care about what you have to say, or what your business does. In business, we usually need the customer a lot more than they need us.
So, how do we get them to pay attention to what we have to say?
This is a huge dilemma , and it usually happens because we try to answer that question in the wrong way. The real answer won’t show itself until we take a step back to see the full picture.
Most of the time businesses like to talk about themselves. They get that new Facebook page or blog and start talking about what is going on inside of their own four walls. Staff changes, new products and services, or even worse blatant pleas for business. This kind of stuff is easy to produce, but provides no value to the customer.
In order to start providing real value, you need to learn how to expand your core.
You see, when we sit down to start brainstorming topics for our blog or social media program, we usually start with the things that are very close to home. For example, a graphic designer might talk about graphic design, a baker about baking, or a photographer about photography. After all, these are the things that they know best.
But, the challenge that we all have in marketing is moving past those sphere’s of immediate influence to some of the more expanded topics that our customers really care about. Consider this simple graphic from Crackerjack Marketing:
In the center of this diagram, we place your core business. These are the things that you do each and every day. They are what you do and know best.
But, they aren’t what you should be talking about. You, quite literally, need to learn to talk around your business rather than about it, and that’s what the outer circle is for.
The outer circle answers:
- What things do your customers really care about?
- What topics, within the area of your business, matter to them?
- What problems do they share that you can help solve?
And that is really the idea of expanding your core. It’s all about going beyond what you do every day to touch on the things that really resonate with your customers. But, how does it get put to work in the real world?
Take Joe For Example
Joe is the friendly owner of a local shoe and athletic shop. Joe is also an avid runner and has competed in several marathons. He regularly reads magazines on running, fitness, and sporting activity. Joe regularly references this information with his customers and they appreciate the information and his sound advice.
Unfortunately, though, Joe’s website is all business. He lists all of the products that he provides in the store as well as photos of all his employees. His customers can use his website for shopping purposes, but really rarely do. Honestly, he would shut it down all-together except everyone keeps telling him that he HAS to be online.
Joe does have a Facebook page, and posts there almost once a week. His last post mentioned a recent sale on all Nike shoes. He received three likes, but no shares or comments. He didn’t notice any additional business from this online “advertisement.”
Does this sound familiar yet?
Now, from what we’ve learned about Joe, we can see that his core business is shoes, athletic equipment, and a positive in-store experience.
But, what would happen if Joe started expand his core?
Finding Joe’s Outer Core
You see, Joe’s customers all share a common need. They need shoes. Most of them are athletes, and most of them spend time running regularly, or at least consider themselves and occasional jogger.
So, what if Joe’s online presence took advantage of that need? What if his website included a blog that discussed current running and training techniques. He could cover things like great local running spots or different options for monitoring heart-rate and jogging distance. Rather than talking exclusively about shoes, athletic apparel, and in-store news, Joe could simple talk about the activities that make use of those things. The more joggers he inspires in his city, the more they will jog, and the more shoes they will buy.
On the social media side of things, Joe could turn his entire Facebook presence into an events center. He could help organize and map out jogging paths throughout the city, plan group jogs at various locations, and help promote other athletic activities that are happening within the city, such as volleyball leagues and co-ed softball teams.
By promoting the activities that his customers love, Joe is securing new business and customer trust for years to come.
You see, rather than focusing on his business, Joe’s approach could start to focus on the things that allow his shop to exist. It’s simple really, softball players need running spikes and volleyball players need running shoes. By helping these activities thrive, Joe would be building trust and making customers.
If Joe can become the one to provide these athletes with valuable information and content, he can easily become someone that they trust even before walking through the door.
Find Your Core, And Start Building
I want to you to try this exercise for yourself. Take a sheet of paper and draw two concentric circles on the page. In the center circle write down the core things that your business does. In the outer circle, start writing some of the things that those needs enable.
If you sell plants, you enable great gardening. You should be talking about growing better tomatoes.
If you sell homes, you enable beautiful homes. You should be talking about home decor, home renovations, and remodeling techniques that won’t hurt the resale value..
After you have expanding your core a bit, draw a big X through the inner circle. Now, start creating content that fits those outer topics. The bottom line is, you need to start talking about the things your customers actually care about, because it isn’t you.
However, if you start providing valuable content that your customers actually need they will learn to trust you, and when the time comes for them to buy….
They WILL come to you.