The first forays into content marketing have been compared to building a solitary tower in a green field – they stood out and got noticed. But now that everyone and their mother has jumped on the content marketing bandwagon (justifiably so, considering its power to engage and motivate), the market has become saturated, and the outstanding towers are no longer so outstanding.
Creating a niche focus for your content marketing has never been more critical. But how?
- Have “real” conversations. We live in an age when a click of the mouse can virtually send us to the other side of the world, but there is no substitute in local content marketing for regular face-to-face or (if personal visits aren’t feasible) frequent telephone conversations. We’re talking “live” exchanges here, not texts, emails or chat spaces, where words can be left off and picked up at will and there is no direct communion (notice the word “communion,” not simply communication) with staff, residents and the surrounding community.
- Employ human resources. Whether you leverage the talents of a marketing team, hire a local reporter, assign a willing resident as “scoop,” or use a guest blogging strategy, real-live people are essential. Culling generic, third-party information from the web is impersonal and irrelevant to a local perspective. And your audience will know it.
- Tailor your brand to your local audience. Senior living communities have an advantage here, as so many of their brands are anchored in their geographic locations. Leverage that to the fullest extent by including your city or neighborhood’s name in your URL; showcasing your surrounding community in your images, blogs, newsletters; dedicating a tab in your main menu to the local area.
- Tailor an actionable blog to local readers. Identify the interests, needs and concerns of your local audience and create content that is packed with actionable information. One Chicagoland senior community with roots in Scandinavia has gained a sizable, faithful audience through a blog focused on topics of interest not only to residents and their families, but to those in the local area who share that heritage. Niche-y, narrow, very successful.
- Incorporate local trends and hashtags into your social media. Stay on top of trends in your area (Twitter is the best medium for trending topics), and create content and hashtags specific to them. Join multiple platforms (you can recycle the same content on a variety of social media, provided it’s keenly targeted to those in your near vicinity). Be a regular, positive, helpful part of the conversations that ensue. This builds online relationships with great potential to develop into real connections.
- Be the go-to source for offline activities, events and insights. Angie’s List has gained huge momentum (and revenues) by providing impressions from real, impartial people on a variety of nearby goods and services. What if your community could be a similarly unbiased resource for your immediate area? What new restaurant is worth the trip? Which activities in your area appeal to grandchildren? When is the best time to buy and plant local perennials? The possibilities in this realm are endless – and viral, considering the power of social media and search engine optimization (a topic we’ll explore in greater detail in the future).
Back to those towers in the field. Because there are so many, it’s hard to distinguish any one of them. Unless it’s right outside your door. The right marketing team can help you create and manage local content that sets you apart and truly stands out.
Ivy Marketing Group. Come Grow With Us.
While the advent of content marketing has opened innumerable doors to earning consumer attention, the glut in the market now requires strategies that go beyond simply producing content. Just having content is no longer unique, and if it’s not effective, it could be counterproductive.
Most marketers understand that content must be relevant to its target audiences. That almost goes without saying. But what is equally important, or perhaps more, is local relevance – ideally, within a five-mile radius. Locality feeds directly into one of the most essential tenets of content marketing: reaching the right audience with greater specificity, particularly in the age of “fake news” and dwindling local media coverage.
That said, procuring local content creates a few complications right off the bat, especially for marketers who rely on content curation or don’t have the human or other resources to get the local scoop. Back to the counterproductive content we mentioned above.
In a sobering article from the Harvard Business Review, writer Alexandra Samuel urges marketers to consider the effects of bad content (that which has no higher goal than culling personal information to make relentless attempts at a sale) on the environmental and social costs of business decisions. “We’ve got to look at companies that pollute the Internet…as an enemy of public health,” she writes. Samuel also acknowledges the importance of paying for quality content. Not in the form of digital ads (gasp!), but by underwriting qualified content creators.
“How can our marketing effort make the Internet better, instead of worse?” she asks. “Creating content that provides real value in terms of information or insight – rather than simply larding a page with search-friendly keywords – is one obvious starting point.” She speaks, too, of “personal responsibility” in creating content marketing.
Let that sink in. Consider how much personal responsibility applies to local content. Say you’re on a cruise overseas with people from all over the world, and someone comments on the banana muffins at breakfast that morning. You might respond that they’re a close second to the ones at your neighborhood bakery, to which your fellow cruiser (residing thousands of miles from you) might reply, “hmm,” or not at all. There’s no mutual connection, and as far as that person will ever know, your local baker’s muffins are fair to middlin’ at best.
Now, imagine you vouch for those wonderful muffins to someone who could sample one on their morning walk. How much more invested in your endorsement will you be, and how much more will it mean to people who can actually engage in the experience?
Added to the benefit of uber-specificity in local content is the opportunity for ownership of an area of expertise. If your community provides interesting, useful information about the environs outside your doors, as well as inside, your audience will come to trust and rely on you in the long run for bigger things (like providing quality living for mom and dad), and they will keep coming back. That’s the stuff of lasting relationships.
The multifaceted advantages inherent in providing stories, photos, tips, reviews, recommendations, developments, activities, outings, events, etc. germane to the local community are huge and should be not be shied from, despite the extra effort in getting local content.
Your marketing team can help you attain and create meaningful content that speaks to those nearby, enabling client-provider bonds with unlimited potential.
Ivy Marketing Group. Come Grow With Us.
Writing good copy is darn hard. For content marketers, the onus of producing quality material is particularly heavy, because it needs to be so much at once: compelling, targeted, moving, convincing, relevant, genuine, clear, concise, even clever and entertaining, depending on the topic.
If all those criteria aren’t daunting enough, content marketers must also be watchful, mindful and
careful – all the time. Launch a self-interested pitch, and consumers will smell it. Go light on your research, and you jeopardize credibility and relevance. Underwhelm with the bland, overwhelm with the bombastic, and your audience will be equally unimpressed.
Content marketers should think of creating material like using a level: only the most sensitive touch makes it just right. Because quality content marketing punctuates copy with plenty of examples, let’s explore good writing in the same way.
- THE BASICS
The Bad and Ugly: Mary’s mother liked her new community. Mary’s mother could not believe it’s affect on she and her family.
No matter how compelling your subject, readers don’t have the time or patience to muddle through copy riddled with errors in grammar, spelling and syntax or lacking in brevity and clarity.
The Good: Mary’s mother couldn’t be happier and more comfortable in her new senior community. She was both surprised and invigorated by its positive effect on her and her family.
The Bad and Ugly: Studies show that planned activities reduce stress among senior citizens.
This sentence is fine, as long as it’s followed by quantifiable and qualifiable data, but many marketers leave it at that: vague and unsubstantiated.
The Good: A 2016 survey of 1,000 senior citizens across the U.S. and conducted by the National Alliance for Octogenarians revealed that activities such as water aerobics, arts and crafts, and off-site outings lowered blood pressure by 68% in people aged 75 and older.
(Note: this is not a real study or organization.)
The Bad and Ugly: Our new senior community will completely change your parent’s life – you must come visit us today to believe it!
Your community may, in fact, be a life-changer for your residents, but such overreaching claims will immediately cast doubt on your trustworthiness and genuine concern for your prospects.
The Good: We have taken great care to discover and satisfy our residents’ every need and desire, and we are always eager to learn how we can make life at (community name) ever more fulfilling for your loved one. We invite you to contact us about a personal visit.
The Bad and Ugly: We are a community leveraging team work for optimum results.
Huh? Despite being non-descript and flat, this is the kind of copy produced by content marketers time and again. It speaks to no one and almost shouts that it doesn’t know its audience, or perhaps even itself.
The Good: Choosing a senior living community is one of the most momentous decisions you and your family will ever make. (Community name) understands that and is dedicated to providing our residents peace in the assurance of skilled, caring staff, comfort in luxurious living spaces and world-class amenities, and freedom to make new friends and explore new activities every day of the week.
- EMOTIONAL IMPACT
The Bad and Ugly: In 2014, the aquatic center was built. In 2016, a game room was added, and at a meeting later that year, the Board of Trustees voted on plans to construct an outdoor terrace.
Dry as dust.
The Good: Each day, our new pool and spa is filled with residents eager to take the plunge into better health and fitness. Our “Dave and Busters”-worthy game room entertains visiting grandchildren and leaves them excited to come back. Residents and their families are thrilled about the exquisite rooftop garden and terrace coming next spring, just in time for the magnolia blossoms.
Psychologists confirm that people are led by their emotional brains, and perhaps more than any other industry, content marketing must take advantage of that.
Your marketing experts can help you find that “just right” touch, bearing in mind all the variables that make your copy not just good, but great.
Ivy Marketing Group. Come Grow With Us.
“Granularity” is a hot word in content marketing today. We all know what it means, right? (ahem, cough, cough). As salty and sandy as it may sound, granularity is simply breaking down larger, more general topics into narrower, more focused content. It’s zooming in on your individual target audience members…a little like Google Earth, where you start from way up and get closer and closer, until you can see the roof of your house. Nice analogy, but won’t that make my content less relevant to more people, you ask? The answer is yes. However (and this is a big “however”), granularity will significantly increase the value of each potential lead.
Say, for very silly example, someone downloads your white paper about the benefit to senior citizens of treading water in a pool while wrapping gifts in seaweed – Ecklonia Cava seaweed, to be exact. You can be fairly certain you’ve got a lead there, one who’s not merely browsing a few non-descript senior health tips. (Your community may also want to offer classes in aquatic seaweed gift wrapping!)
Granularity increases relevance; relevance increases engagement; and engagement increases conversion, according to marketing experts at Velocity Partners, Inc. With granular content, you’re not just targeting someone, you’re hitting them square on the nose, so to speak, where they’re much more likely to be moved by your content and act upon it.
Think of it like going to a party and telling guests you’re from Wisconsin. Someone says, “I’m from Wisconsin, too.” You’d probably ask where in Wisconsin they’re from. If they’re from Racine, as you are, the exchange becomes more personal. If you tell them you worked at the K-Mart on Green Bay Road, and they say that so did they, and later you find out they also know your sister, well, you may just have yourself a lunch date. That’s how granularity works. Engagement.
In addition to razor-sharp relevance, granularity provides infinitely fertile ground for content marketing developers. While content shock (the theory that online content has reached the saturation point) warns that “less is more,” that concern applies to general, top-of-the-funnel content. When content is broken down into more and more refined facets, each facet begets another, and so on. It’s impossible to saturate the market when you consider the endless possibilities of content within content.
Creating quality granular content can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s harder to produce, as it requires marketing strategies that allow keen insight into your audience as well as up-to-the-minute knowledge of news and changes in your industry. On the other hand, because it’s more difficult to produce, fewer are doing it, thus giving you a considerable advantage. The right marketing team can help you produce granular content that is not only well done, but very well received.
IVY Marketing. Come Grow With Us.