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Engagement = Education

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It's a cynical world out there and getting marketing messages through to an audience that takes a jaundiced eye to any hint of self-promotion can backfire. We are bombarded daily with marketing messages. You can't sit in an airport lounge, pump gas or stand in a checkout line at the grocery store without having some message of "buy, buy, buy" flash at you.

At heart, this is a crass numbers game. Marketers are saying that if we can make an impression on 1 million people and 0.2 percent of them will act on the message, then we can move 2,000 people to act. Just by simply increasing the frequency of the message, we can move more people. It's like selling with a jackhammer.

More often than not, that technique is used to sell consumer products and those of us in the metal construction industry are selling much larger, bigger products and services. The numbers game won't work for us, but we are limited because our audience has become cynical because of the numbers game others have played.

How do you work your way around this problem? It's not easy, but there is a method, and it's called audience engagement. Or content marketing. You have to deliver a marketing message that in and of itself has value to the audience. Your message must educate people.

The trick is to hold their attention and turn the crass numbers game on its head. By keeping someone's attention and moving them to value you for your message, you are changing the percentage. Now, it's not 0.2 percent of people acting on your message, but 20 percent. That conversion rate is the key to content marketing. And to get there, you have to engage the audience.

Let me ask you a question. Have you read this far? If so, I've engaged you, and I hope that I have done so because you agree with what I'm saying and see value in what I asserted. If I had a product to sell, you would be more inclined to purchase or hear a product pitch than you were before. (Aren't you grateful I'm not selling?)

In an odd way, those of us in the editorial field-now called content management-are better suited to today's marketing environment than old-school marketers. We understand the techniques of audience engagement and the nuance of delivering a message. What we've had to learn is how to leverage the new publishing platforms of social and electronic media to deliver our messages. These are the same platforms traditional marketers are leveraging now, and you are probably considering how to use them to your advantage.

I think you would have greater success, especially in the metal construction industry, if you use the tools of content marketing to get your message out. Show your audience that you are an expert in the field. Provide them with valuable information about your products and services that cause them to return to you for more information.

In the end, an engaged audience is an educated audience. And for you, an educated audience means an increased conversion rate and an ability to sell at a higher margin.

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