Digital agencies across the globe are singing the same song: shift the focus to “content marketing”. Will it work in India? -It sure will. Storytelling and small-talk to gain trust, before jumping to business – that’s an ancient concept in India. However, the rules are new. Is the Indian mindset ready for it?
Written by: Trond Skundberg (C) 2014
This is my definition of content marketing:
“Create quality content, very relevant for your target audience. Make sure they find it. Do not push sales -just educate, entertain and solve problems. Build trust and your readers will eventually convert to clients”
First of all, talking about CONTENT in this article, I am referring to articles or blog posts on your own company website or blog. That’s the content you have full control of, and should obviously focus heavily on.
1. Create quality content, very relevant for your target audience.
If I have to choose 3 word to describe what makes good content, that would be passion, passion and passion. Nothing beats content written by someone passionate about the subject. Your enthusiasm for the trade, the company or the product will shine trough and inspire your reader – hopefully enough for them to trust you with their future business.
You have to write exactly what your target audience want read about. Simple as that. So what are they looking for? Which questions can you answer? What inspires them? That’s what you need to find out first. You have to know your audience. Practically, quality content is also about good copy, good photos, illustrations and video
2. Make sure THEY find it.
Assume you change course and no longer call them on phone, no longer fill up their mailboxes, no longer stop them on the street or in trade shows. Assume you reduce on traditional advertizing. Then, how do they find you? Your clients and future clients search the web and social media for what they need – when they need it. That’s where, and that’s when you need to be visual for them, not to mention – attractive to them. Then hopefully they will choose just your content.
This is the difference of outbound and inbound marketing. The difference of push and pull. The difference of being pushy and making yourself attractive and available. Maybe also the difference of win and or lose?
So, how to be visual. How to be found?
Considered you have already created great content, the next job is to work on the SEO (search engine optimization) and share heavily in social media channels to spread the word effectively.
SEO is a science in itself. Luckily Google has changed their algorithms so now we can finally create quality copy and value for real people, not for machines. Thank you Google. Hopefully this means good-bye to worst practices as creating bad duplicate content to trick search engines – and welcome to quality content that inspires real people.
As an absolute minimum you should take control of the “title” and “meta description” (snippets) that is displayed in search results. Great content won’t help you if the text displaying to promote your article is random and don’t make sense.
SEM (search engine marketing) is paid promoting of your web or individual blog posts – in the search engines. Simply, when someone search for “Italian restaurant Mumbai”, and you are the owner of such a place, then you for sure would like to pay a few rupee to appear on top of the list. This is inbound marketing; a person search and happens to find your website trough a paid promotion.
On the social media arena you should for sure actively make your content available – atleast on Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn. These are the most popular networks in India, in that sequence. The next on the list is Google operated “Orkut”. Personally I would also add Flipboard, Instagram and Pinterest to the marketing part of content marketing. India has 90 million Facebook users and will soon bypass USA and become the largest Facebook country.
3. Do not push sales, just educate, entertain and solve problems.
Easier said than done. This requires you do a good job finding out what both your existing and potential clients want to know, like to see and what day-to-day problems you can help them solve. This is most certainly something else then one way info about your self and your products and services. Learn them something they don’t know trough some relevant in-depth articles, frequent inspiring blog posts, mixed with “Tips of the day” from employees, “Did you know…”, a Q&A column, photo series, back stage reports, videos – just to give you a few initial ideas for now.
4. Build trust and your readers will eventually convert to clients
This is the core of the method. Unconditionally giving your audience the content they need. That will according to theory transform the readers into paying clients. I guess this means re-thinking and re organizing your marketing operations. For sure you still need to deliver quality in whatever you do or sell. Nothing beats happy clients – sharing the word of it online.
Content marketing will work excellent in India
Why do I think it’s such a good fit for the Indian market? The concept of NOT jumping straight to business is strong in India. The initial small talk is important. Often very direct questions are asked and answered. What is the result? Knowledge about the other party, passion is brought out and then ideally: trust is established. And in India as in content marketing: trust means business.
Social sharing = gossiping and spreading rumors
I find this to be a pretty known concepts in India too. Storytelling on street corners or in villages, passing on recommendations or warnings to the next person, that is passing it on to the next…
Knowing that India will have 150 millions mobile internet users by march this year, I am sure you agree that the sharing will be effective.
What are the main challenges with content marketing in India?
When it comes to marketing and communication – India can not at all be seen as one single market. With 28 states, several hundred languages (22 official), and an extreme flora of sub-cultures, creating inspiring content requires strong local knowledge, precense and a translation team. With most of the population living in rural areas, not caring much about the world outside the village -the need of content with a local twist is absolutely needed to succeed. The industry of creating local web content is already on the rise, and the need is enormous. So the next months and years we will see an explotion of companies all of a sudden being experts in that area.
Is the Indian mindset ready for inbound?
I have one worry. Are most Indian companies ready for inbound insted of shouting out with capital letters? Are Indian brands ready for the low-key unconditional sharing information until it hurts trend? My observation is that it is a strong willingness to share information about others, but I find the “Indian mindset” to be much more restrictive when it comes to sharing detailed internal information. So, I will eagerly follow the development over the next months and see which brand opens up and succeed first.
Content marketing -a marketing miracle cure?
Even if you are changing traditional pushy method with inbound marketing, you are obviously not guaranteed any miracles. Even if you do everything right, you still have to have great products and services, not to mention that you still have to be able to close the deals yourself.
photo credit: via photopin