Heading Into 2015 With More Focus on the User and More Stories to Tell

Last year was more about making the most of the marketing tools at hand rather than any revolutionary breakthroughs, and I see more of the same in 2015.

It puts us at an advantage: instead of chasing customers to the next “hot” social network or trying to figure out the best way to use a new platform, we have a better idea of where our audience is, and how we should communicate with them. Here’s where I think the focus will lie for the next twelve months:

A further convergence on the user: We have the technology to provide people with any product or service they want, when they want it. The technology alone isn’t enough, though – we also need to deliver the information and content that buyers truly need to make a decision. Whether it’s websites, social networks, e-commerce platforms, or other ways of connecting, it’s important for you to understand how buyers want to use the technology, and tailor to those methods. How? Examining your website analytics and making sure you’re using email and marketing automation tools to track the behavior of your specific audience are two good places to start.

The use of video will continue to rise: It wasn’t so long ago that “microvideo” platforms like Vine were all the rage. Increased connectivity and improved data delivery methods, however, have whisked us past 6-second videos and made viewing longer-form visual storytelling in places like YouTube easier. In addition, platforms like Slideshare help you deliver non-video but still visually-oriented engagement.

Stories will come from unexpected places  and get better because of it: As companies work to create more compelling content to connect with their audiences, they’ll have to look harder to find unique stories that will stand out. The everyday workings of your shop floor, procurement division, or other departments can provide a wealth of interesting content that speaks to your target audience. Don’t overlook them.

Less confusion about what makes “content marketing.” “Content marketing” was something of a buzzword in 2014, and it was also occasionally misunderstood. That confusion will clear up in the coming months as companies get a better grasp on what content marketing is, and what it isn’t. Better understanding leads to better execution and better content.

Customization will be key: The full circle always goes back to the user. It will be key to anticipate what your customers and prospects are looking for from you, and customize your communications directly to them. So you’ll want to create content and share information highly specific and tailored to your target buyer  but also make sure that it reaches them the way they want it to, whether through email, social media, RSS feed, and so on.

Effective customization goes beyond just catering to job titles or functions. Understanding the different personas you need to reach  how they do their jobs, what their pain points are, what’s important to them professionally — can help you tailor specific messaging that speaks to your audience, whoever they may be.

Thomas Industry update

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