Industry veteran Brice Bay learned about the power of content early on. In the process of building, and then selling, his first publishing company 10Best, which produced global city guides, he discovered that content was the best way to build trust and establish relationships with the consumer. It was then he realized he could use content to leverage relationships and drive transactions, a formula he’s carried through successfully on to his next business, EnVeritas Group. He now works with many of the biggest global hotel brands and online travel agents as well as the tech giant Google, creating content that drives revenue. Despite this success, Bay is humble and admits that he “still hasn’t figured it all out,” and says he’s tackling new challenges every day.
Here Bay shares the benefit of his wisdom with Content Magazine and talks about how social media and microtargeting are the next frontiers for marketers to conquer and why marketers need to unhitch themselves from the “gravity of habit.”
Content: How important is it for brands to be on social?
Brice Bay: I think it is imperative for brands large and small to be on social media. You have to be connected. Social media is the fastest path to connectivity with the customer. It’s the way people trade information and where they go to build or lose trust in brands. Facebook and Instagram are the number one places to be connected with people who care about brands negatively or positively.
Which is the best social channel to be on?
For smaller and emerging brands who’ve got limitations on what they can do, focus on Instagram. It’s a visual way to stay connected, and people really interact with brands they like there. Smaller brands can glean the strategies being used by the bigger brands by just following them and watching what they do. Many of the big brands are creating content in repetitive cycles and operate on a give and take basis. They provide something useful for the consumer in return for their loyalty. There’s a constant handshake going on between the brands and the consumer. It’s an art form, and something we’re trying to learn as quickly as possible.
You’ve said that marketers have been dazzled by social media and have forgotten the basics of pure marketing. How should brands communicate on social?
Brands are still heavily abusing consumer’s trust, and social is just another channel for them to do it on. They think of social as a place to take - where they put information out there, so they can take more customers. They’re going to be louder and more frequent with their messages until they win, win, win. This kind of marketing is a form of abuse. This approach stems from the CEO and the quarterly reporting pressure and the need for measurable results, which marketers get drawn into. Marketers need to use social to build trust and relationships with their customers and not be too focused on the numbers.
Which brands, in your opinion, are getting it right on social?
I’m impressed with Google’s vision of the relationship it wants to have with its consumer. Google, which is one of our largest clients, understands the long game about building trust with its consumers. It knows that by providing great results, and tools that aid people in their day to day decision making, it will gain the consumer’s trust. We’ve been helping Google to create content for Google Trips and Google Destinations that is completely non-transactional, free to download and has no advertising in it. It’s purely created as a utility for the consumers. Google is doing this because it knows that the power of its relationship with the consumer is everything in the long game.
Are any smaller brands creating content in this way too?
We’re working with the American Kennel Club (AKC), helping to raise the profile of its product “Link AKC smart collar,” a smart health-tracking device for pets. It has launched a dog collar that enables owners to track their pet’s movements during the day. Owners can send a vibration remotely to get the dog’s attention or can track it on an app if it’s wandered off. We’re helping the American Kennel Club to create content, not related to the product, but all around how owners can care for their animals. It has been a really successful way to engage with AKC’s target market.
You use microtargeting to reach consumers on social. What is it, and how do you do it?
Microtargeting is about defining a target group in its smallest possible way and creating content relevant to that group’s needs. If you think about the dog collar as an example. Obviously only a pet owner would be interested in this product. But we want to go deeper than that – so our target market will be a pet owner, with a young dog, that’s reached an educational threshold, someone who lives in an urban area and has a specific income level. If you can successfully shrink your market to that micro-level and only create and deploy content relevant to that market, the response rates, the opt-in rates, the interaction with the customer is higher because people are seeing things they want to see.
What role does content play in marketing today?
There are still only a few agencies that understand the practical use of content – in that you use it to build trust first and then see where that leads with customer acquisition. Everybody is in such a hurry to acquire the customer, they forget that customers don’t have to buy from them. Customers will buy from the people they trust the most, and content plays a huge part in building that trust. The content has to be authentic, honest and localized. That’s one of the things we’ve been doing with Google - creating localized content, using local resources, in local markets, to create content for local people in that market, in the language that they can understand. It’s not more expensive to do; it’s just a little more complicated to manage, but the work really achieves the goals.
What do you see happening in the industry in the next 12 months?
If I were making a prediction, I would say that people will finally realize that no one wants anything on a piece of paper, ever. Even a business card is too much paper. Everything can be transferred and understood electronically - every product description, every service offering. The quicker marketers get their heads around that and can unhitch from what I call the “gravity of habit,” the better. They need to move away from the “we’ve always had brochures, what the heck are we going to hand out at the trade show?” mentality and realize that these brochures only end up in the trash. If they think like that, it frees up head space and dollars to do things that consumers really want: great, accurate, localized information, updated frequently. Digital is a much better vehicle to do those things than paper.