Given all of the tools at our disposal, I’m continually surprised by the lack of personal touch in most B2B and even B2C Internet marketing initiatives. Just because online marketing is a digital medium does not mean it has to be cold and impersonal; rather, as marketing continues its rapid shift online, businesses must learn to personalize their digital assets in order to stay competitive. They must figure out how to use digital means to form connections that matter. To riff on a popular aphorism, to ignore (your audience) is human, to connect (with them) is divine.
Adding a personal feel to your digital assets does not have to be a long, drawn out process. In fact, you can begin to do so today. Here are three tips to get you started.
Shoot an Introductory Video
This does not have to be an expensive promotional video. The goal is to introduce yourself and/or your team to online prospects and customers. This is a great chance to show that your business goals and values align with the wants and needs of your target audience. Don’t worry about equipment-you can film this video with a portable recorder or even a smartphone. It doesn’t have to be high quality, but it does have to be authentic. You should embed such a video on the Home Page or About Us section of your website, as well as on appropriate social media channels like Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.
Write a Values Statement
Take a moment to put fingers to keyboard and tell your online audience a bit about yourself. Mission statements are great and all, but you might do better with a brief summary of who you are and why you are doing what you do. Presuming your company’s products/services align with its business goals, this summary will provide your audience a glimpse of what you as a business value the most.
When writing such a “values” statement, make sure to be honest (in fact, you might learn a lot about yourself/ your business during the exercise). Try to write to your ideal prospect. If you had just a few minutes (or in this case, a few paragraphs) with such a person, what would you want them to understand about your brand? You can post this statement in the About Us section of your website, in a blog post, and/or throughout your social media channels.
Design a Photo Collage
Remember making collages in kindergarten? Well, they also happen to be a great way show your target audience the personal side of your brand. Given the success of Pinterest, it is clear that many people connect with visual media. Why not take this concept a step further and post a photo collage on your website? Again, don’t agonize over process; to quote an immortal marketing mantra,“just do it.”
Designing a photo collage of your brand doesn’t necessitate the services of a professional photographer; in fact, I would argue the opposite. Instead, walk around your office for a week with camera in hand and take candid shots of you and your team in action. Then get the whole group together and pick out your favorite ones. Try to select photos that best tell your brand story- shots that your audience can look at and say, “I get who they are and what they do.” If nothing else, you’ll have created a nice memory book for your company.
I should point out that all three of these ideas are forms of online content marketing. Hopefully you can use on or all of them to form deeper connections with your target audience.
Brands are so ubiquitous on Pinterest that it’s hard to believe that until this week, Pinterest’s terms of service specified that the platform was limited to “personal, non-commercial use.”
Pinterest has officially welcomed businesses with the introduction of new tools and new business terms of service, which makes it explicit that the platform can be used for commercial purposes.
Wednesday’s announcement could be a sign of how Pinterest might evolve as a tool for brands as the site continues to grow in popularity. The site drew 26.7 million unique visitors last month, up from 3.3. million in the year-ago period, according to research firm comScore.
“On the surface, this isn’t a hugely actionable move for most brands, but it is certainly symbolic of where Pinterest is going and what it can be as far as a platform for connecting brands and their fans,” says Matt Wurst, director of digital communities at 360i.
Although the new free business accounts don’t look different from other Pinterest pages, they are a clear indication that Pinterest is opening the site up for business and is looking toward a monetization model.
“Everything eventually has to monetize,” says Darrell Whitelaw, executive creative director at IPG Media Lab. “This news shows they’re being forward thinking.”
While Pinterest won’t provide a specific number of businesses that have pages, in a blog post Pinterest product manager Cat Lee acknowledged that “thousands of businesses have become part of our community, giving great ideas, content and inspiration to people on Pinterest.”
Lee highlighted Anthropologie,Whole Foods, the Smithsonian, and Amazon, in particular, as inspirational brands on Pinterest and presented case studies from Jetsetter, Allrecipes, Etsy, Organized Interiors, and Petplan Insurance, including analytics on how they have used Pinterest to drive traffic.
The business pages will make it easier for brands to showcase their content, according to Alison Feldmann, editor-in-chief, Etsy.
“Business pages provide brands with an authentic platform to drive loyalty and engagement within their community. Curating new trends, perspectives, and products gives brands an exciting way to express their point of view and distinctive voice,” Feldmann tells us.
The business pages may or may not change the way brands create content, but they will likely inspire brands to come up with creative ways to use the platform. For instance, now businesses will be able to embed pins and boards on third-party sites and brands can incorporate elements of Pinterest on their own websites.
“By sharing Pinterest content via buttons and widgets, brands can reach engaged, relevant audiences through their own online platforms,” says Feldmann.
To provide ideas about how to use Pinterest for business, Pinterest has, fittingly, set up a Pinterest for Business page with best practices, case studies, and other creative solutions.
Marketers and agencies are seeing the new business pages as a sign that Pinterest is looking toward a way to generate revenue.
“Promoted posts would be a no-brainer,” says Toby Barnes, product strategy director at AKQA. “But just looking at the response some consumers have had to promoted posts on Facebook makes it clear that when it happens, it will have to be played out in a sensitive way.”