Henry Ford didn’t invent the car. He made cars available and affordable to the masses through an innovative process.
Marketers didn’t invent the technology to build bots, mobile apps, games, and productivity tools, but they can make them entertaining, delightful, and helpful to attract their audiences to use them.
And marketing tech tools once available to enterprise-level brands with big budgets are now feasible for small and medium-sized businesses too.
Welcome to the new sweet spot of content and tech, a hybrid that forward-thinking marketers are smart to accept.
“My media relations team built our first bot,” says Heather Whaling, CEO and founder of Geben Communication, who delivered Acting Like Technologists to Improve Content Strategy at the 2018 Intelligent Content Conference.
“If my media team can figure out how to build a bot, I bet any number of you can also figure out how to build a bot.”
When Wolf’s Ridge Brewing needed help directing guests’ attention to their talented chef’s cuisine, Whaling’s team spurned conventional ideas such as social media posts, email marketing, media outreach, etc.
“That didn’t feel really engaging,” Heather says. “So, we designed a bot that was much more of an interactive tool to help guests get interested in the food and educate them more about the food.”
The team didn’t use technology because it could, it used tech to show or tell the audience something.
That’s the sweet spot for marketers who see technology advances as methods for stimulating emotional engagement and serving specific business goals.
To create that, Heather recommends four strategies:
- Encourage observation and reflection
- Create a technology sandbox
- Require ideation
- Nourish curiosity
Once your team is empowered and equipped to think differently about technological tools, it’s time to build your case for clients and stakeholders.
Target the ready audience
Heather’s team worked with Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon, which drags about 20,000 athletes and 100,000 spectators.
They wanted to differentiate the marathon using technology.
Before considering all the bells and whistles, the strategists examined the event’s best performing content and found that the top piece was the countdown clock on the website.
What if this expectation-engaging content could be used in more ways, charge the brand story with the audience’s daily narrative?
Heather’s team designed an Alexa Skill that let users ask how many days they had left to train until the big day.
Having the countdown available verbally at any moment was a gift to an already engaged audience who relished the expectation.
Organize and analyze data to convey the story’s value
Capable technological content marketing strategies can do more than charm your end user.
When done well, the fusion of tech and brand storytelling can increase revenue, profit, growth, and retention.
The ultimate step to obtaining ongoing approval is the ability to prove the story’s business benefits.
Heather offers up her method of data analysis for this purpose:
- Clarify what you want to prove
- Create a postscript or searchable addendum in your documented business case
- Recall your original objective
- Look for success in unlikely places
- Point out curiosities
- Suggest your team as the solution
“When you have the data the right way, and you’re able to present it in a way they can easily understand and see the value you’re creating, they become all of a sudden that much more open to the next idea,” Heather says. “They’ll be open to taking the next risk a little bit more.”
As Heather illustrates, you don’t have to invent a new technology to be an innovator, you need to create a culture where innovation is embraced to take advantage of new technologies.
You must operate in an environment where you and the team can think about different ways to tell your brand’s story that will engage and delight your audience.
What new solution would you suggest if your team, stakeholders, and clients were all on board?