Last week I keynoted the Social Media Tourism Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama. It was a fabulous event and one of the recurring themes covered was the importance of giving up control of marketing to your destination’s fans and advocates. Obviously I was thrilled with this, but at the same time I realize that this can be scary as hell for many marketers regardless of the industry you’re in.
What it comes down to is changing your mindset, and understanding the mindset of your fans and advocates. Let’s tackle each area separately:
Changing Your Marketing Mindset
As a business/brand/destination/organization your marketing mindset is to promote yourself. To get the word out about who you are and what you do. Because people can’t and won’t buy from you until they know who you are and what you can do for them, right?
But in recent years the advent of digital content creation tools has changed the game for marketers. Now there is an incredible amount of content being created every single day. In the days before social media it was far easier to buy attention. Today, it has to be earned.
So how do you earn attention? By creating useful content. Look at the content I have created here. Hopefully you’ll look at the posts and view them as useful posts that can help people. But when you get down to it, these posts are marketing. I am marketing my ability to work with companies to help them better connect with their customers and cultivate advocates via social media and other marketing channels. There’s not a lot of directly promotional content, in fact I probably should have more. The idea is to create useful content that you will use and share with others. In doing so, the content spreads to people that can hire me and it also helps to establish my expertise.
So instead of creating content that directly promotes your business, create content that’s customer-centric, that focuses on problems that your customers are having. Becky McCray suggests that you should think of every question that your customers have about your products and business, and answer those questions on your blog. In short the rule is this: The more valuable your content is for your audience, the more it will spread and the more it will promote you.
Understanding the Mindset of Your Fans and Advocates
Many marketers view their fans and customers as being more or less the same. Nothing could be further from the truth. Customers feel little to no natural affinity for your brand, while fans have extremely high levels of loyalty toward your brands. Fans want to interact with you and will in fact seek out ways to do so. On the other hand, your average customer could care less if it ever interacts with you unless there’s a problem or issue it wants you to address.
Additionally, it’s important to know that fans consider themselves to be owners of your brand. They consider your brand to be their brand, which is a big reason why they love your brand.
This also means that they will act in what they perceive to be the best interests of your brand. They will actively promote it to others. They will bring what they feel are potential problems to your attention (and be happy to help you fix the problem).
The bottom line with your fans is that they are the good guys. They literally want to work on your behalf to help your brand, so instead of keeping them at arm’s distance, you should work with them and make sure to thank them. Early and often.
So here’s your plan for changing your marketing and your mindset:
1 – Focus on creating content that creates value for your current and potential customers/donors/visitors/partners. If your content creates value for others then they will use it and share it. Which means more exposure and opportunities for you.
2 – Don’t ignore your fans, view them as your partners. They want what’s best for you, so connect with them and give them the attention and respect they deserve.