For some time now, Content Marketing has been the verb and the noun. It’s everywhere and everything. With the rise of digital advertising came the unexpected expectation of personal, unique and relevant content. If you want to catch the people’s eye you have to first acknowledge that ‘people’ is a group made up of individuals. And each one of those individuals has their own set of needs and wants.
This sort of trend is an easy one for B2B companies to follow by creating a blog or engaging in steady flows of social media. Retail companies don’t have it so easy. The average retailer has many more categories of merchandise to offer. Products on top of products, in fact. So how can retailers possibly manage all of those items while creating interesting content to go along with it? Is it possible to be creative without breaking your business’ back?
Social Media is Your Megaphone
First and foremost, it’s all about your voice. How do you want to sound to your audience? Think of television. Would you follow a show whose characters lacked any personality? Same goes for social media. No one is going to follow a business if they are boring, rarely update and only post ads.
Social media can be a retail business’ saving grace. A Twitter account can pull the quietest boutique out of hiding and into the media spotlight. Creating a Tumblr page could help a local art gallery promote upcoming events or allow a small tailoring business to showcase their newest creations. Social media is the megaphone retailers have been looking for. It gives them the chance to actually have a voice, to peek out from around the big letters of their brand and say hi. Having a megaphone also gives smaller retailers the opportunity to make a name for themselves, to make their voices heard.
In the world of retail, what’s out of sight is definitely out of mind. It isn’t enough to simply start an account and exist as a name. Posting on relevant topics, notifying your audience of new products, and responding to comments is all necessary upkeep. Just because you’ve been passed the megaphone doesn’t mean you can start shouting out nonsense, however. The privilege of having your audience’s attention will quickly be revoked if you have nothing interesting to say.
Let Your Website Tell Your Story
Pause for a moment and recall all of your favorite stores or brands. What do you like about them? What makes them stand out? Look at Tom’s shoes. They have a story that surpasses many others’ because it mixes consumerism with charity. With every pair of shoes bought, another pair is given to someone in need. Now, that’s a story that sticks with you from shopping to purchase and throughout ownership. Every consumer likes to feel better about themselves when they buy something. Of course, not all businesses can afford to do what Tom’s did but they can apply that sort of drive to their company’s story.
Even if you’re the guy selling tamales out of a lunchbox to the late night bar crowd, every retailer should have a website. And that website should be attractive, easy to navigate, and up to date. But what may be more important than the appearance of your website is the content that it holds. The story of your business isn’t restricted to the ‘About Us’ section – though that’s a great place to start. Your company’s story should fill every fiber of your website’s being. Consumers want access to as much information about you as they can get:
- The Backstory – How it all begin and all the work it took to get where you are today.
- The People That Work There – Bios and pictures of your staff, partners, and investors will remind users that you’re people, too.
- Updates and New Developments – Are you expanding, moving, or renovating? People want to know.
- Product Descriptions – Why you chose it, how you made it, what its significance is to your company.
Blogging for Retail Readership
A retail business can often feel out of touch with its customers and that may be because they’re floating too high above them. Businesses can’t win customers by being ominous and intimidating. People want to see you on the ground floor.
If taking that plunge seems scary, consider starting a blog. A blog can bring your retail business back down to earth. If written well enough, it can catch the attention of audiences that would not have seen you otherwise and gain the following of those that already love your brand.
If you think that anyone can start a blog, technically, you’re right. But will anyone want to read it? A successful blog needs to be written by someone that knows how to write well and leave an impression. As far as content goes, there are really two routes you can take:
You can use your blog to…
- promote your brand
- announce sales
You can use your blog to…
- Share ideas and stories
- Offer tips on subjects within your trade
- Engage your audience by starting conversations, answering questions and responding to issues
Sure, you can mix and match the two but that may confuse your readers, causing them to stray. Like we mentioned in the beginning, consumers are people and people like to feel a connection. Your blog posts shouldn’t read like white papers and none of them should feel like a commercial (even if it may be one in disguise). The less propaganda you put in your blog, the more faithful the readership will be.
Changing the way you view your clientele can also transform the way you address them as an audience. That, in turn, can ultimately alter how you engage with the world. Switching the word ‘consumers’ for ‘readers’ is a start. With blogs, it’s about influence and trust. In order for readers to follow your blog, they’ve got to believe in what you’re saying. No one wants a gimmick or repetitive ads thrown at them.
Keep in mind that your blog itself is an ad for your business. If your store already has a neon sign outside with its name on it, would it make sense to clutter the aisles with several more of them? Not, unless your audience suffers from severe memory loss. A blog should only advertise its wares if it’s done discreetly, with grace and surrounded by good content.
And how does one get good content? By knowing what you market and by getting to know who you’re marketing to.
- Dive into surrounding communities. Find out what your followers are into.
- Tell the story of your company – how it got started, the bumps along the way, the successes AND the fails, the exciting things you discovered, how much you love being a part of it.
- Immerse yourself in your products. Get to know the people who make them, feel the fabric, visit the manufacturers, and showcase the designers.
- Incorporate your products into a story. Describe how you fell in love with them, why you sell them, what’s so great about them.
If you’re selling printers, auto parts, or something else that seems less glamorous, look at the products from every angle. Think outside of the box. Find inspiration in fashion magazines or on art blogs and from graphic designers.
Bottom line: for your content marketing, start with what you know. A story can usually develop from there. If you aren’t an excellent writer, hire someone that is. You want to gain respect and trust from your readership, and no one is going to follow a blogger who just throws some slop onto the page.
Most businesses, especially retail, need attention to grow. Standing out and being seen are keys to their survival. Most consumers also want the same thing: to be acknowledged. Because of this common necessity among them, retailers and consumers may forever be in a game of cat and mouse. But anyone can turn that game around. If you are a retailer that puts out great content – through your website, social media and relevant blog posts – it won’t be long before your business is the one being chased.