It’s official: Donald Trump has been elected the Republican Nominee in the 2016 Election.
Whatever your political persuasion may be, I’d like you to set it aside for a moment and consider the impact this election cycle could have on your business. I’m not talking about anyone’s platform (or lack thereof), but how your business can be seen and heard amidst all the noise. This election has crystallized for me the reality of the modern digital age: When it comes to digital marketing, Trump is your competition. Not the guy down the street who happens to do what you do better, worse, or cheaper.
The truth is that the competitive field in social media or content marketing is huge and, much like the music business, wears a long tail. Think of the last five things you saw in your Facebook newsfeed. What comes to mind? Perhaps a comment on Melania Trump’s speech, Ted Cruz’s non-endorsement, or, if you’re lucky, a picture of your best friend’s diapered bundle of joy. From there, it’s a long list of articles and posts you won’t remember and didn’t care to see in the first place—except when you do. The truth is that if your stuff gets seen, it’s because somewhere along the way it mattered more than these things if even only for a moment. In this day and age, every company with an online presence (including yours) is a publisher, and we’re all chasing the same eyes and ears.
Once upon a time the conversation in digital marketing centered only around Search Engine Optimization, being found online by people who are looking for what you already happen to do. And this is still true, but Google and Facebook alike have been changing the way you get found. When it comes to being found online today, SEO expert Adam Torkildson says it best: ”The bottom line is that all external SEO efforts are counterfeit other than one: Writing, designing, recording, or videoing real and relevant content that benefits those who search.”
So unless your plans include taking the next six months off from all marketing, you’ll need to learn how to cut through the noise and beat Trump at his own game. Somebody, somewhere, cares a great deal about what you have to say—if only you’d get on with saying it in a way that is uniquely yours and is relevant to them!
Trump and Bernie alike have shown the power of mobilizing a group of people and giving them a sense of identity and voice. As you go about getting attention for your business, brand, or cause—learn from your competition and use what you can. So while I’m sure there are more, here are five things you can learn from this newfound competition for attention:
1. Be You.
I promise this isn’t only bad advice from a borderline Millenial. If you can’t define what makes your business unique, it’s pretty unlikely your customer can. You need to know who you are to communicate that to your customer. If you haven’t already, figure out what makes your business tick—your mission, what’s important to you, the voice of your brand and why you create content at all (editorial mission). How are you making the world better? Let people know. Lastly, make sure that anyone in your organization who talks to anyone about it knows this inside and out.
2. Be Relevant.
Cookie-Cutter content is no better than a drop of water in an ocean of bad inspirational quotes. Get to know your audience and what motivates them, and deliver it on your own (now defined) voice. Crunching data is important, but even beginning to ask existing customers why they work with you can make a huge difference in creating content that draws in similar customers. Many companies (and many more politicians) waste time and money saying what they think people want to hear when the real sweet spot is in finding the overlap between who you already are as a business and what your customers want.
3. Be Helpful.
If you understand your customers, you’ll begin to understand the problems they have, and can help them find solutions. If you want to be known for your skill-set or knowledge, start by being helpful.
4. Be Clear.
“The Wall” might be a silly idea, but it’s clear, memorable, and easily shared. Be clear, be sincere, and be concise—and avoid buzzy jargon or technical language unless necessary. You’ll be amazed at just how powerful easy-to-understand writing can be in a sea of misused jargon.
5. Be Remarkable.
Have a hook. Be funny. Be so darned useful you make other people feel better just by sharing it. Give your audience a voice. Give your audience hope. Whatever you do, don’t make forgettable things. We have enough noise. Make it count.
Maybe this is terrifying for you. You’re an Entrepreneur, not a writer, designer, or videographer. You don’t have to be an expert to be yourself, and getting to know your customers is an invaluable investment. If you want to grow your business online, you’ll need to produce content that resonates with the real and felt needs of people, your potential customers, and makes their life better in some way. To quote the one-and-only Bonnie Rait: “Let’s give them something to talk about”.