The Audience Decides What Value Really is — NY Edition

NY City Subway — Jared VanderMeer filming a Marketing Vlog

There’s one thing digital marketers often forget, and it’s that people know what they want. Audiences are leading the way in our digital content. What’s valuable to them changes fast, and it’s our job to get out there and find out what they find valuable right now and create it before another brand does.

Focus on an Experience First

For your audience, your brand isn’t about your products and services; it’s about the experience you offer. That’s what people want to see and what they can connect with. If you can offer an experience that tells a story, engages emotions, and solves problems for people, they’ll keep coming back.

Every trip to NYC has shown me this. I’ve been there a handful of times, and every time I get immersed in the unique experience of New York. This is a city where people are solving the most challenging problems, sharing stories through art, culture, and business, and engaging a visitor’s emotions by providing an experience unlike any other.

This is what brands need to do. If you can take your experience and make it digital through top-notch content, you’ll have people like me coming back again and again for more.

Start with Your Sphere and Stop Worrying About Shares, Likes & Followers

The hardest part of digital marketing is getting started. Brands put their names and content out there and expect to immediately have an engaged audience. In reality, this is a long process that takes time and determination.

The first thing you have to do if you’re going to build an audience long-term is to let go of worrying about shares, likes, and followers. Some people would call these “vanity metrics.” I’m not saying these stats aren’t important. It’s always good to know where you’re starting from and collect data as you create content to see what’s making an impact, so you still need to track and measure them. But if you let go of the expectation that every piece of content is going to be liked or shared x number of times, you’ll be more motivated to continue creating and correcting.

Start with the people in your audience who can tell you what value means to them, how you’re delivering on it, and when you’re not. Focus on getting real-time feedback from your staff, customers, and the audience in your local region. These early adopters are the ones who are the most invested and can help you build out your base content within your own sphere. Once you’ve mastered delivering valuable content to them, it will be time to build out.

Jared VanderMeer in New York City shooting a Marketing Vlog

Create and Correct & Speed to Market

Catering to audience needs is one of the hardest things about digital marketing. Audiences want fresh experiences. They want brands that cater to trends and innovation. That means staying up to date on trends, issues and problems, and what’s going on in our industries and spheres.

To keep up with this, we have to continually create and correct in our content. We have to change the online brand experience to fit with what people need right now.

That means two things: First, you need to minimize revisions. You can’t hesitate on creating new content. If you’re not delivering what an audience is looking for right now, it’s going to be more difficult to build a following. That’s why I talk about speed to market in content marketing. The faster you can produce and send out content, the better. Stop letting small obstacles like revisions become the major hold-up in your digital marketing campaigns. Start creating multiple streams of content (blogs, videos, and graphics) from a single point of interest.

The second important thing to note is that you can’t take shortcuts. To build value into your brand over time, you need to be actively building at all times. It’s not enough to build up some passive content. Generic quotes and stock photos will not take you far enough. It’s essential to constantly go back to people, get feedback, and create and correct. The shortcuts you want to take by setting a simple course and staying on it are not going to bring you back the value you expect and need. The more active you are in creating content, the higher your ROI will be in the long-term.

Start Building Value Right Now

Building value into your content takes time, but as I’ve said before, no value is always going to equal no value. Let me dive a little deeper into that.

Your brand’s value is what allows you to sell more without actually selling. Once you’ve built up value in your brand, your customers are going to come back again and again for the experience. It’s not about the “how” and “what” as much as the “why” behind an experience.

Take a look at popular brands like GoPro. GoPro doesn’t have to take out ads to get new customers (although they do). People seek them out because they want the experience they’ve seen other people have with GoPro, which they’ve seen via videos shared through the GoPro website. For example, there’s the GoPro $1M marketing challenge right now. Instead of paying for a marketing campaign, they’re having their audience build that campaign themselves. What better way to provide value to an audience than by sharing the content they’ve shot themselves?

If there’s one thing you take away from this post, I hope it’s this: start building your brand’s value online right now. Create that experience through authentic and consistent content, and the time invested will be worth every moment.

I recently published If You Sell, You Lose, my first marketing book designed for businesses, brands, and marketers. Videos and marketing tips on YouTube.