Ephemeral Content: How To Use It Effectively In Your Marketing Plan

Between my last post and this, nothing much has changed in my LinkedIn feed, as far as stories are concerned. I see a few folks using it, but I am yet to experience something unique or share-worthy. I plan to try it soon and will hopefully get some data in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, here’s the second part of the post on “Ephemeral Content” and how to use it in our marketing plan.

Before we proceed further, what exactly is Ephemeral Content Marketing?

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Ephemeral Content Marketing- Kanupriya Sindhu

The Rising Popularity Of Ephemeral Content

LinkedIn launched stories a few weeks back. I can already see it picking up in my own network, and on the platform in general.

Ephemeral content is on the rise like never before. Started by Snapchat but made mass by Instagram stories, there is something very captivating about the short-lived form of content these days. I am yet to try LinkedIn stories. But if I observe my own behavior on other channels, especially on Instagram, I am more active with stories than posts. 

While I knew the answer for the same, but before jotting down this post, I carefully evaluated my own behavior on why I like stories more? The answer is clear and it’s the same for me, as it is for many of you – it’s quick and not “permanent”. I don’t have to worry about the long-lasting impression of my posts and the imprint that I am leaving on the web. I like that it’s in the moment and not long-lasting.

And that’s the beauty of ephemeral content – quick, in-the-moment, and transient.

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When Brand Storytelling Works

Spotted these Amazon Storyboxes at a mall recently and they instantly made me curious to browse more. Beautiful stories presented in a beautiful way, loved this new initiative by Amazon India. Good storytelling works always, isn’t it? 

And not just storytelling, the Amazon Storybox is yet another brilliant example of the importance of packaging in marketing. Packaging changes perception, packaging reinforces the brand value and packaging sells. 

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Business lessons from the grassroots

Some of my recent consulting work gave me the opportunity to meet and interact with small business owners from different parts of the country, most of them actually from tier 3 cities and beyond. These are small business owners with a formal education level of either 12th or graduation, typically operating out of certain areas in their respective towns and are doing profitable businesses worth few crores every year.

Both the projects that I am consulting for are around digitization and these require me to have an in-depth understanding of how these businessmen operate and their respective selling philosophies.

To say that it was an enriching experience would be an understatement. While I have been closely associated with startup & entrepreneurship world for more than a decade now but the kind of insights you get when you meet these grassroots level entrepreneurs is unparalleled! 

No formal MBA degree, no entrepreneurship certification, yet a powerhouse of business wisdom and practical knowledge nuggets.

After meeting a few of them, I got so fascinated with their understanding of sales, marketing, customer relationship that I started taking notes :-).

Sharing some that I loved here translated into English. These are lessons that we know of, perhaps learned through books and repeat many a time during our conference room sessions, but listening to these from real doers in absolute rural language, was nothing less than fascinating :-).

Me: How do you always manage to sell higher ticket items? 

Him 1: I don’t jump to selling directly. I first work towards building my relationship with my customer and build the trust. People here value my suggestions and words, once that trust is established, it’s not difficult to sell anything. (One line verbatim: “madamlong term dhanda karna hai toh sabse zaroori hai grahak ka vishwaas jeetna”).

Winning customer’s trust is very important to do a sustainable business.

Me: You have created two very different type of leaflets for the same product, why? 

Him 2: Product is same but positioning matters. I customize my offering depending upon who is buying from me (One line verbatim: “jo vigyapan aapke aankh ko jachega wo zaroori nahi ki mujhe bhi jachegajisko jo jacheusko wo dikhao sabse pehle”).

Segmentation matters and so does contextual targeting!

Me: Commuting to your place isn’t easy, yet people come to you for the repeat purchase. Why?

Him 3: I first start with understanding the general lifestyle and need of my customer. Instead of selling my product, I try to provide a solution to their needs. (One line verbatim: “itna competition hai market main, sabse peel aap decide karo aapka grahak aapse hi “kyun” khareedega. Ye “kyun” bah zaroori hai madam”).

Start with a “why”, why will someone buy from you?

Me: You have changed the corporate brochure, but that’s not allowed. Was it because you wanted it in the local language?

Him 4: Who cares for the features explained in a brochure unless it doesn’t communicate the benefits? Instead of saying good things about the product, I say how it can benefit you or add value to your life (One line verbatim: Kiske paas time hai aajkal itna padhne ki, kisi ko kya padi hai ki humara product kitna mahaan hai, agar aap grahak ko ye samjha do ki humara product uski zindagi ko kaise asaan ya behtar kar sakta hai toh wo jhat se le leta hai”.

Keep it simple and focus on benefits more than the features.

And my most favorite one 🙂

Me: You started working for the first time at the age of 48 and now I can see you’ve employed only women at this place. Wow, how did you convince them to come out of their homes?

Her: It’s easy, I didn’t convince them about working, I just showed them the change in my lifestyle. I am the first woman in this area to have my own Alto :-). In our area, when men work, its for food & shelter but when women also start to earn, it leads to a better lifestyle (One line verbatim: khana, ghar toh aadmi log la ke de dete hai, lekin apni marzi ka saree, ye selfie wala mobile phone ke liye apna income bahut zaroori hai”).

The lifestyle and prosperity of a family grow when a woman starts earning.

Aren’t these insights amazing? I so wish, I had recorded these responses and shared with you all. Would have been a gem of a podcast coming straight from the doers of Bharat :-). 

Marketing to the search-it-all consumer

Graphics from pngtree.com

The recent report of Google states more than 100% growth for “best” search queries and even for smallest household items like a toothbrush or umbrella. While mobile searches for “best toothbrush” have grown more than 100%, for “best umbrellas” it has gone up by 140%. Wow, some search trivia this is, isn’t it :-)?

But why am I not surprised at these details? Isn’t it the norm now to hit the search button as soon as the word “buy” come to our mind? Be it the regular hygiene items or luxury holiday plans; we just cannot make a decision without searching for “best…..”.

Image  – www.thinkwithgoogle.com

Just yesterday, while picking up my son, I heard some mommies discussing steel lunch boxes over plastic ones, and one of the mommies immediately hit the search query for “best kids steel lunch box India.” Now, as someone who grew up in middle-class India, steel lunch boxes were very common during our childhood. In fact, if my memory supports me well, plain steel boxes were the only choices available to us as against the plethora of vibrant, colorful options accessible today. Assuming a steel box would be a steel box, I was a bit confused on this search for “best steel lunch box,” even though I am in that habit of searching for anything and everything before buying. But how wrong I was in my assumption! When I tried this search term later at home, I was amazed at the information available online – from listicles on “top 10 steel lunch box brands” to features comparison on Quora, the first page itself had tonnes of information on selecting the “best” “steel lunch box” for your child with details of features that you never thought could have mattered to you unless you read about them!

We, the consumers are informed and powerful like never before, aren’t we?

But where does this leave the job of marketers now? It’s getting tougher & interesting day by day. We know a lot more about our consumers, yet it’s difficult like never before to market your product. Forget about marketing your product; it’s actually a challenge in itself to get noticed by your consumers.

There are many changes that have happened drastically in the last five years, but the things that have changed completely for me ever since mobiles became pervasive would be the following:

  • Push is actually gone, it’s primarily about advising now. You really cannot push a product, even the pull created through glittery advertisement or seeded influencers have their charm up to a certain limit only. Whatever you speak about your brand, your connected consumer will do their own research.  It’s better to try being the adviser for the problems that your consumer is searching for. And in this age of hyper personalization, one-size-fits-all advice won’t work too. Invest time in understanding and analyzing your consumers and be prepared with the personalized advisory approach.
  • Zero moment of truth is no more just another jargon; it matters like never before. When this term got coined by Google a few years back, my immediate reaction was – ah, yet another fancy lingo for the same old marketing concept that will be in trend for few years before something else comes up. But I can’t stress the importance of ZMOT now, Zero moment of truth is a reality and that too a very competitive one. Being there, with the right message, at the time when they have just started to think about exploring your product is critical. What does this mean to a normal marketer? Understand at what point the stimulus begins and the exploratory search starts, be there not only at that point but also at the peripheral points – the peripheries could be the search of a similar category or even industry competitors.
  • Authentic word of mouth is important, the operative word being “authentic”.  Your well-researched consumers would like to listen to feedback and reviews about your products, and they very well know to distinguish between genuine and the seeded content. While seeding definitely helps in increasing the awareness and getting noticed but for the final purchase decision, positive WOM is imperative now. Word of mouth has always been important, but historically the front end sales team also used to have lots of power for convincing and recommending. Today with most of the purchases happening via screens, recommendations from friends and family act as strong stimuli during purchase consideration. Make the process of feedback & reviews by customers as seamless as your purchase process.

There are many other trends that have changed, but for me personally, I have experienced huge changes in these three. On one hand, I see push almost dying (in fact I think an informed consumer actually hates the “push”) and on the other, I see the personalized content being present at the zero moment of truth helping remarkably.

What is that one or two things in your marketing strategy that has changed completely now? Would love to hear your views in the comment section below.

Digital Marketing is NOT Product Marketing

Digital Marketing is NOT Product Marketing.

Even for digital-only products, this remains true.

Time and again, I have been observing this hiring trend where a digital marketer has been hired and is expected to perform the overall product marketing role. When I asked the reason behind this from one of the companies whom I was consulting recently, the answer was:

“Oh we have a limited budget for marketing and we just want to do some Facebook campaigns”.

Ok, that could be for now but what about later?

“Even later, we think our prime marketing channels to promote our products will be digital only”.

Sounds simple and fair enough, isn’t it?

But it’s not that simple in the real scenario. It’s a small company and this marketer is expected to own up the overall “growth” of the product – from awareness to consideration, from lead generation to conversion. Yes, the channels to be used are of course digital.

Considering I have worked in startups for long, I totally understand the need for resource optimization in smaller companies. I have also been a huge evangelist for digital medium ever since the start of my career but, just because your prime channel of promotion is going to be “digital”, you can not expect a digital marketer to do the overall job of product marketing.

The candidate could be an expert in understanding Facebook or might be a specialist in search engine optimization but these can’t be the be all end all of product marketing.

The role of a product marketer ideally starts from as early as the market validation stage, right when the product team starts to conceptualize the product. A typical product marketing role during launch would look something like this:

These roles may vary a bit depending upon the product category and organization, but overall a product marketer needs to have a holistic understanding of marketing and not just channel-specific approach.

Depending upon the growth stage of your organization and product, you may decide to hire the person at an appropriate time but before hiring, do invest some time in deciding your goals and objectives and hire the candidate with the right skills accordingly. You may even decide to give your digital marketer the overall product marketing role in future but this upskilling will take time and may not necessarily work always. 

Thank you for visiting my blog & reading this post.

Context Marketing – 5Ws and 1H Model

This one is one of my favorite marketing quotes these days 🙂 

Content and context matter the most today, isn’t it? 

Before you proceed, can I request you to pause for few seconds and think about the last advertisement you clicked on any digital channel —just anywhere, any ad? 

Before writing this post, I carried out this check multiple times and more often than not, I observed myself clicking on sponsored posts only if they were very appealing visually or the initial blurb looked emotional or entertaining or had the specific information I’d tried to find recently. In a nutshell, it’s the content and context that made me click. I am sure, it’s the similar trigger for many of you. There’s nothing new in this; since ages it’s the content and context that have been working for marketing but in this current era of digital excess and content overload, these are the only two things that matter the most – great content and right context!

You might be having great content but if you haven’t figured out the right channel and the right time to deliver your content, it’s gone. And same would be true vice versa, a perfectly planned campaign with the right audience segmentation is of no use unless you have content that can attract and connect with your audience.

While almost everyone is aware of the value of good content and context but the truth is, very few focus on the these holistically. Content is a lot more than beautiful visuals or infographics and context is much more than just geo-targeting or re-marketing. One of the most fundamental definitions of context marketing is, “delivering the right content, to the right people, at the right time.” Sounds simple, doesn’t it? However, the more data we have about our user, the complex it gets to do contextual marketing. There are many framework and tools available that you can use to plan your content marketing but for context marketing, it’s evolving every day, simply because the algorithms and engagement level at each channel are changing at a very dynamic pace.

Personally, for me, the framework that always works for context is the traditional 5Ws & 1H model. As long as a marketer you spend sufficient time on your Ws and H, more than half of your task of segmentation and user understanding is done. Although it looks simple, I think very few follow it diligently. Next time you think of promoting your content, spend some time to address the following:

Found this relevant? Feel free to share it but may I please request you to credit this image to www.kanupriyasindhu.com

  • Who?: Like any other kind of marketing, setting up a context starts with “WHO”. Who is your audience? What’s his/her personality? How would you describe him/her? Sketch out the “who” part using any good persona template. The clearer you are about the “who” part of your target, the easier it would be to plan out your marketing campaigns.
  • Why?: Once you’ve defined your audience, it’s extremely important to address the “WHY”. “Why” should your audience notice you or click through you? If you don’t have a “why”, it’s highly unlikely that your audience will have a “why” to click through your content. Have a purpose and address your user’s needs. As long as you provide answers to their needs, they will always have a reason to be attracted and engaged with you.
  • What?: Delve deep into your audience’s behavior and you will get the answers to your “WHAT”s. What has been the purchase behavior of your audience? What kind of campaign interested them? What kind of campaigns escaped their notice? What are his interests, what stage of buying cycle is she at? The more you are aware of what interests him/her, the more contextual you can be.
  • When?: Earlier, the “WHEN” part was the simplest of all to define. Not anymore. In this multi-screen, hyper-connected age, this is the trickiest to define. Your audience could actually be looking out for you almost anytime, anywhere. Do some data digging and figure out if there is any “when” trend that exists, like, what time of the day, which day of the week, any seasonality during holidays or festivals etc. 
  • Where?: “WHERE” forms a very important part of contextual targeting, from location to devices, from channels to platforms, know your user’s  preferences and target them accordingly.
  • How?: And the last bit, “HOW” to do contextual marketing? Well, as long as we have the answer of all Ws and, then if we merge the demographics with behavior and needs, we can target the right audience, with the right messages, at the right time. A detailed post on “how” to do contextual marketing is coming up soon as the second part of this post. 

Till then, I’d love to know more about your favorite tools and framework for context marketing. 

If you found this post interesting, it would mean a lot to me if you could click on the “like” button below to let me know. Thank you!

*Icons used in the image from iconscout.com

Finding the influencer for your brand

I was recently conducting a workshop on digital marketing and while we were just at Instagram 101, some of the first few questions that I was asked were –

How to earn money from my Instagram page?

How to make brands pay me?

We have heard brands pay thousands of rupees for just one Insta post, how do we get such deals?

I want to be an influencer, as social media influencers make lots of money by just posting a photo or writing few lines.

This from an audience who was just starting with Instagram and other social channels!

Quick money attracts anyone and the idea of being paid thousands for just writing few lines on Insta or blog sounds very lucrative but in reality, it’s far from true. 

Influencer marketing like any other channel of marketing requires some serious time and effort and unless you build your reach, credibility, and authority, there is no way you can establish yourself as a marketing channel. 

To add to that, in this age of content clutter and media overload, it’s extremely difficult to cut through the noise and stand out in the crowd. I am no influencer on Instagram or elsewhere, so I don’t think I can give sure shot insights on how to be an influencer but I have been on the other side of the table for almost 15 years now – hiring endorsers, brand advocates, and influencers for all the brands that I have worked with till now. So, I can definitely give some insight on what all I look for when I engage with influencers for my brands.

1. Relevance: For me, this is one of the top criteria while engaging with an influencer. There are enough debates around reach vs relevance but in my personal experience, the subject matter credibility and relevance of influencer’s target audience matter a lot. Think of a juice brand being promoted by a food blogger or fitness expert vs. a travel blogger? Juice is a category that has a possibility of being consumed by almost any kind of audience but as a follower, your perception towards receiving a recommendation for a juice brand by a fitness expert will be different than from a travel blogger.  

2. Reach: Of course reach is very important, no marketing channel can survive without sufficient reach but reach doesn’t mean only a very high number of followers. Reach is also a lot about engagement and interactions per post. For e.g., I definitely do a quick check on the quality of interactions on influencer’s last ten sponsored posts as one of the parameters to evaluate the effectiveness of the promoted content by the influencer. 

3. Persona: Your brand has a persona and it’s extremely important to find influencers whose personas resonate with your brand. From the tone of voice to the type of content – it helps if influencers persona is aligned with the brand. While this sounds very simple but in reality, it’s quite a task to find the right fit. For a long time, I have been working for a photography brand. Now photography is a category, where almost anyone and everyone thinks he/she is an influencer. In this age of easy access to high-end cameras and millions of editing apps, it actually takes a few seconds to create gorgeous photos for your Insta feed. But I have observed it many times that just the ability to click perfect shots or having a large number of followers doesn’t necessarily translate to being an effective influencer for a photography brand. Sometimes the tonality doesn’t suit our brand and sometimes the quality of content. Finally, this is also a marketing channel and like any other marketing initiative, it’s important to have consistent brand persona while engaging with influencers too.

4. Content: The ability of influencer to create unique and authentic content is something very, very important for me. Influencer marketing is not only about promoting brand content as it is, but it’s a lot about engaging users with original content that’s relevant for brands as well as interesting for the audience. The more genuine the content would be with Influencer’s natural tone of voice, the more audience will trust. Influencer’s ability to create interesting content is a huge value ad to brand’s social media repository of user-generated content. There are many examples to highlight the same but one of the recent brands that I noticed doing it efficiently is Epigamia Yogurt. Many food bloggers participated in this campaign and they created beautiful Yogurt Art using Epigamia products and posted it on Instagram with hashtag #yogArt . Not only followers like me came to know of all the new flavors of Epigamia but we also got to know of many interesting ways this yogurt can be used in our day to day meals. And the best that I observed as a marketer was the gorgeous Insta feed of Epigamia – full of super creative user-generated photos using Epigamia products that would have otherwise taken huge time and investment for the brand to create! I know there are many brands who have created success stories like Epigamia but we also know of cases, like that of a recent mobile launch in India where almost all endorsers, celebrities, and influencers posted the same type of content on their social feed including the one where the influencer was praising the picture quality of this android phone but the picture was posted from an iOS :-). 

5. Connect: The term “influencer” by definition is a person who has the ability to influence the behavior or opinions of others and it can only happen if the influencer shares a certain kind of relationship and connect with his / her audience. It’s important to evaluate the return visitors, comments, and quality of interaction between the influencers with their followers. And as far as authentic connect is concerned, there is no way one can do it through any shortcut, it has to be human and it has to be personal.

These are just some of the parameters that I take into consideration. I am sure others have some more parameters as well. In nutshell, it takes a whole lot of effort to be an influencer with credibility after whom brands run with a fat cheque. At least I haven’t met any real-life influencer yet who became an overnight success through quick hacks or digital bot programs :-).

When you understand your customers…

…You come out with campaigns like Amazon!

Yesterday I received some 60+ messages on Independence Day promotion! And I am not even counting the emailers and notifications. These were just SMSes that I received despite my number being registered under DND! Yet the only campaign that I remember or that enticed me to browse more was of Amazon India.

A global brand implementing such a fantastic local campaign, isn’t it amazing? No “Patriotic Discount” or “Up to 71% Off”, no “Freedom From Shipping” or “Freedom Of Shopping”, yet a campaign that grabbed many eyeballs and love from all.


So what worked for this campaign? The answer is very simple and something that we all know of but do not necessarily implement:

Context

Connect

Commerce

Customer

The campaign was quite contextual, delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time and had a very local touch to it.Read More

4 quick tips for Influencer-gramming

Image Credit — Pixabay

On an average, 1 out of 3 or 4 posts on my Instagram timeline is an influencer plug these days. I did a quick check on if I am following influencers more? No, these are pretty much my own contacts who are doing brand plugs now. Looks like brands have become quite active with influencer marketing especially on Instagram and there are many brands that are opting for influencers as against ads on Instagram.

Influencer marketing works well for many reasons but if I have to quote one reason, it has to be the following blink from the book — Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini:

Observing people similar to us can greatly influence our choice. We comply with people we like and it is easy for some people to make us like them.

So damn true, it’s just so easy for some people to make us like them and once we like someone, we get influenced by their behavior and choices. While many bloggers and social media personalities are open to do brand collaborations but how many are actually capable of influencing your users with authenticity? And no, it’s not a number game only. Influencer marketing is as much an art as it’s about science and numbers.

There are many resources available for you to check in case you are starting with Influencer Marketing on Instagram but for those who are already doing it, here are 4 quick suggestions from my side that are based on my own experiences of running campaigns and practical observations of some other live campaigns on Instagram these days.Read More