Mobile-first is a term used to describe the 2017 statistic where people begin their internet searches, browsing and application usage on their mobile device more than on a desktop or laptop computer. They’re searching for social proof (what others say about a brand, service or product), helpful knowledge-building and early research to educate their decision-making process. How are you informing church influencers and decision-makers about how your brand delivers the greatest value possible for their felt needs? What are you giving away to churches?
Content Is King
There are three kinds of content your brand can leverage: Owned, Paid and Earned.
Owned Content — Content you create, and that is in your control to leverage across any viable mediums and any useful channels. The best owned content starts and ends with what’s in it for the prospect. The worst owned content is self-promoting, but not self-aware.
Paid Content — This is content you or others create and is done so for remuneration. Google AdWords, trade publications and paid advertisement or sponsorship are prime examples of content that exists only because you’ve paid for it to be where it is.
Earned Content — The ultimate content is that which is earnestly created by others and paints your brand, products, and services in a positive light. This is also some of the most powerful content because, ostensibly, it is unbiased (or at least not paid) and carries the weight of being unsolicited and unsponsored. An entire micro-industry has emerged around earned content from prospect and client reviews and one need only look at Yelp, Trip Advisor or Amazon to witness the power of others talking about your brand and deliverables.
Creating content that has high intrinsic value is at the top of every marketer’s list of deliverables, but it is also more difficult to create because it’s not features or benefits focused (which is far easier, but less effective). Curating content is the science of creating and managing the workflow of delivering the right content to the right channel for the right audience at the right time. Your organization would do well to identify how to manage this content creation and curation process, as I’ve outlined in my previous article “Marketing Content to the House of Worship Market.”
Engagement Is Queen
If Content is King, then Engagement is Queen. It’s one thing to produce a new product marketing page on your website, complete with a downloadable PDF product sheet, but content alone isn’t the point: It’s a means to an end. And that end is engagement with the prospect or user!
Engagement is what happens when you get the prospect to do more than passively consume content. It’s an action which engages (hence the term) them with your organization. In marketing parlance, the Call-To-Action (CTA) is the point of most advertising and marketing efforts, because it moves the buyer along with the journey towards being an active, qualified lead.
Engagement most often happens when your marketing content and advertising efforts have successfully connected the dots for the prospect to identify the value of your products/services, resonate with a way in which you solve a problem or create a better outcome, and motive them to actively seek out additional, personalized content or activity (such as a webinar, product demo, or sales call). In the content marketing world, engagement happens several times in the buyer’s journey and each time there is a process and plan in place to further qualify the lead and reinforce your brand’s differentiation and value proposition.
And Social Proof Is the Prime Minister
So if Content is King and Engagement is Queen, then Social Proof is the Prime Minister. Hopefully, I’m not taking the monarchy/parliament metaphor too far, but it’s helpful to identify where the actual power lies in giving away valuable content and information to secure a sale. Much like the British monarchy, where the King and Queen are figure-heads with a valuable presence and notable amount of positive influence, content and engagement are powerful influences in a buyer’s journey. But the decision-making power is best supported by what others say about your brand, products, and services. See my Trends article “What Are You Known For?” to fully understand how your brand needs to reconcile the dissonance between who you say you are and who churches say you are.
Too many times to recall, I’ve had churches ask me for my opinion about a brand or product. This has happened as a consultant and also back when I was on staff at three different large churches. Churches talk to other churches. It’s a surprisingly small circle of influencers among the leaders in church technology, though many churches are asked by smaller churches what gear they are using, which manufacturers they recommend, and which systems integrators they’d use again (or not). The power of this social proof is immense and cannot be overstated. I’d go so far as to say that there is no better salesperson for your brand’s products and services to the house of worship market than highly satisfied users.
I’ve long promoted the idea of creating a ‘Client MDF fund’ to take full advantage of these loyal users and the unequaled power of their example and experience using your products and services. I recently wrote about it in my article “Vendors, Market Development Funds and the Faith Market.”
How is your pre-sales stack of content, engagement and social proof? Are you firing on all cylinders when it comes to reaching the house of worship market?
What say you about content, engagement, and social proof? Share your views and opinions in the comments below.