Anticipation can be a great marketing tactic. As Carly Simon sang in her song, and the 1979 Heinz Ketchup commercial, “Anticipation is making me wait.” This typically means you are waiting for something you want. This month the world was on the edge of their seats (apply heavy sarcasm here) with their eyes glued to their computer monitors watching the live-video feed of April the Giraffe at the Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, New York. After over a year, everyone was waiting to see the arrival of the new baby giraffe.
While I love a new baby giraffe as much as the next girl, I just couldn’t see what all the hype was about, but after seeing the story covered day after day on the news and with the hysterical twist of the pregnant woman, Erin Deitrich getting in on the action as she spoofed April the Giraffe and put on a mask saying she would deliver her baby before April would, I gave in. I clicked over to see what all the fuss was about and, just as I thought, there was a large giraffe standing around in a 20’ x 20’ enclosure, taking a few steps now and then. I don’t know if I was expecting to see her doing yoga or sitting on an exercise ball to relieve her labor pains, but it was extremely BORING…but I watched her for over 5 minutes before I slapped myself out of the trance and made myself get back to work. Why? Because we all wanted to witness the moment she finally gave birth. We were heavy with anticipation.
I see companies ready to birth new websites, posting the exciting news, “We’ve got a new website coming” which, to be honest, is about as exciting, to anyone outside the company, as watching a giraffe walk around her enclosure. You may be launching a new book, a new website, opening a restaurant or store, but you’ve got to be creative to pull your audience in with anticipation in order to get them to stay engaged. People want to know what is in it for them and to be honest, you launching a new website USUALLY has nothing in it for your customers.
What if you could get your audience to be even half as excited as you are about your new website or business launch? What if you could get them to “tune in” and see how your project was developing? Here are a few ideas to help you use anticipation marketing:
Poll Your Audience
Create easy response polls to get your audience involved in helping you make decisions. This works great in real estate. Put up images of four different kitchens and ask which one people would want to cook their next meal in. What if for a website launch, you asked people to vote on 4 different font choices or color combinations.
Play “Would You Rather”
Along the same lines, you can show two choices and play would you rather. We work with a commercial interior design firm, and this works great. Ask your audience which chairs they would rather have at their desk, or which conference table looks more inviting Which uniform do you prefer? Could you ask your audience if they would rather have a content library filled with case studies or a challenge a day section they could draw inspiration from?
Name that Mascot
Of course once the little 6-foot, 150-pound baby giraffe was born (April, the zoo could hook the world a little longer by involving everyone in the naming of the little lad. They are raising funds by charging a dollar per vote, with a minimum of 5 votes per person. BRILLIANT. Of course, they are using the opportunity to educate everyone on the state of giraffes in the wild and the preservation efforts that they are involved in. In a different manner, what if you had a character in your business that helped educate the world on your products or services? John Kapos, of Perfection Chocolates in Sydney, Australia goes into his Chocolate Johnny character (a chocolate “dealer” with a bodyguard and a drag queen girlfriend) to bring funny videos to his fans. Could you have your audience help you name a company mascot or perhaps a fun “character” or spokesperson that will bring regular tips their way? You might have a harder time getting people to pay for their votes, but people love to have a say and it can be a fun way to get people coming back for more.
Create Some Drama
I love seeing the story of Sarah and Juan “unwrap” in the Extra Gum commercials. They have done a brilliant job of creating a romantic drama that draws you in. You anticipate their next short chapter. Could you use this type of story-creation to bring your audience along for the ride? There are many brands that tell part of a story in a commercial and then pull you to their website to see how it ends or to view the whole story. You could release a mini-chapter each week until the finale or big reveal.
Remember, anticipation is “the feeling of excitement about something that is going to happen,” according to Merriam-Webster anyway. If you want your audience to be excited about your brand and what is happening, get them involved; allow them to participate or go behind the curtain with you to watch. If that doesn’t work, you can always try getting pregnant and wearing a giraffe mask.
When you see a picture of this structure, most will know exactly where it is. Does your social media profile pic allow people to know exactly what you are about?
Sydney’s Opera House is one of the most recognizable structures in the world. Whether you like opera or not, when you see the building, you stop and marvel at the design and beauty. You wouldn’t click on this picture if you wanted information on Chinese cooking or if you were interested in connecting with train collectors. The photo gives you enough information to draw you in or cause you to move on. In the world of social media and social networking, your online persona is made up of your name (or nickname), your avatar (or social media profile pic) and then the content that you provide. You may not be recognizable to many in the beginning, but it doesn’t take long to create that recognizable online persona.
When I see certain pictures on Facebook or Twitter, I pay more attention to the information than when I see others. There are some that I see and skip right over knowing it is not information that I want or need. (I know, I should just disconnect or “unfriend” them, but that is for another post.)
When developing your online persona, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, is the photo that you choose to use. Selecting a great headshot or photo that really represents YOU is important. In my book, Gettin’ Geeky with Twitter, I spend an entire chapter talking about using a great headshot and standing out. I have some below that I feature in the book and I will explain why they stand out in my opinion. But do this simple test: Scan your list of friends on Facebook or look down the stream of Twitter followers, which pictures jump out and capture your attention? Which one’s get lost in the stream? Are there some that stop traffic and cause you to dive into their information?
A great social media profile pic or headshot is close up, it shows personality and it becomes YOU to all of US. I used to think that everyone should use a REAL photo of themselves and not their dog or a picture of their book cover, but I have found enough exceptions to this rule to now say, “it depends.” Who are you online? Do you provide information from a dog’s point of view? Then a dog-face works for you. Do you use an animated character because this is how you see yourself? Cool. As long as it is not a picture of someone else–like those who post a photo of a celebrity as if that were them, or there have been cases where someone posts a picture of someone more attractive because they don’t want the world to see who they really are. This is different than posting a cartoon image or caricature.
I feel that this becomes a form of deception. Too many people create fake accounts with someone else’s face, name or both so they can write nasty comments or lead people into false relationships. I guess this is done in face-to-face relationships as well, but it is wrong in either case (in my humble opinion!) I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on this. Depending on why you are online and engaging in social networking, it is usually important to build authentic relationships even when they are shot-term acquaintances. A friendly or engaging avatar/photo is very helpful.
Here are some of my favorite Twitter profile pics–and the reasons I think they stop traffic:
Viveka von Rosen or @LinkedInExpert
Peg Fitzpatrick or @PegFitzpatrick
Both Viveka and Peg have had great close up shots of their smiling faces. Just looking at their profile pics, you would get the feeling that they are friendly and helpful. After reading the content they provide on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and everywhere else, I know that when I see their face pop up it is worth stopping to read their post.
Here’s an example of a brand mascot being so recognizable he stops eye traffic. Moz is a brand that provides SEO tools and news that is always a favorite to read.
Lil Pecan or @LilPecan
Lil Pecan is one of my favorite Twitter Critters. First she is hilarious, she makes delicious chocolates (well, she has never actually sent me any, but they sound delicious by her descriptions), she has a great blog and she is always in character. The only irreverent social media guinea pig that sings scat that I know of. Lil Pecan is a great example of someone who connects with people through her character and it just works!
You be your own judge. What calls to you? In our overly crowded information highway, you need to be sure you have a face that stops traffic and then you’d better have some good content for them to read while they’re there! Let us know who stops traffic for you.
Now that you’ve got tips for your profile pic…let’s get that bio in shape!
SEO and social media can seem so mysterious as it relates to content marketing, but it is quite simple.
We hear the term SEO and are minds might flash to a guy with a black hoodie on, typing lots of mysterious code into the backend of our website. When we hear the term social media we think of teenagers posting selfies on Instagram or our Aunt Ruth sharing embarrassing photos of our kids from years gone by.
The reality is SEO and social media are necessary marketing tools and thankfully they are a lot less mysterious than you may think. Today many use the term “content marketing” when talking about SEO, and that can encompass blogging, social media posts, rich website copy, all written with the intent to draw your ideal customer in through search. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is simply optimizing your web and social content with words and phrases that Google, Bing, and other search engines are looking for.
Let’s look at a few examples of how this works:
When Kevin asks Google, “Do I need to send in my 1099 forms with my tax return?” Google is going to search for a piece of content that will answer this question the best. What if a tax preparation service company had a blog post titled, “Do you need to send 1099 forms in with your tax return?” Kevin would be clicking over to that website in a matter of moments. Now Kevin is reading more helpful content on their website and sees a 20% discount code on the homepage for getting his tax returns done by a pro.
Let’s say that Robert looks in the mirror and notices his hair is getting a big shaggy. He asks SIRI, “What are the most popular hairstyles for middle-aged men?” He might be served up a video that is posted on Facebook from his local hip hair-stylist showing before and after shots of middle-aged men going from NOT to HOT! (I’m sure it had something in the video about pitching the preppy sweater as well!) In the post, he notices this hip stylist is nearby and so he clicks on the CALL NOW button that is on the Facebook page and books an appointment.
When Carli searches for “Exercises to get ready for spring gardening,” she will find a Pinterest post showing photos of different stretches and exercises to “Get Your Body Ready for Gardening” This piece of content was created by the fitness studio in her neighborhood. She loves the exercises listed, and at the bottom, it has a coupon for 10 FREE days to come in and get a jump start on the spring workout. Guess where Carli’s going?
The more closely the content matches the question, the higher in search results it will be. It’s not about gaming the Google system. It’s not even about paying to have your site show up in the top AD space. Most people skip those first few ads and jump to the meaty content that is showing up organically (naturally or earned). Content that is created specifically to answer the unique questions your ideal customers have is search engine GOLD. When you start sharing that content across your social media channels, those veins of gold will lead people to your GOLDMINE.
One of the challenges a business owner has is juggling all that is involved in running a successful business. Marketing activities tend to get put to the back burner while fires are handled that are blazing on the front. But when you look at the ROI (RISK OF IGNORING) of content and social marketing, the lack of new business can soon be a front-burner issue.
Google and other search engines want to make sure they are serving up the best, most relevant (and localized when possible) content to the person searching. Making time to create helpful and interesting content is a must in today’s digital world. It is the best and, quite frankly, the most effective form of marketing you can do.
The good news is, it’s no longer a mystery what it will do for your business!
Need a jump start on content planning? We’ve got a great resource for you! Download this guide to help you identify types of content you can create to start drawing more ideal customers in.