Are you thinking about taking your brand into new territories? Looking to expand the venture and increase the revenue? Content marketing is a great tool in conquering new markets – here’s why.

If you decide that sales to current customers and markets have been maximized, market expansion is an attractive strategy. But this comes with major challenges, when the objective is quick uptake and your brand doesn’t have a lot of exposure or familiarity with the target audience.

You need to find a way to sell your products to your best advantage, taking in the differences of culture, business practices and language. How to do that?

When it has been set what territories you want to expand into, consider what role content marketing can play in this strategic move. Content marketing is an essential part of growth and market expansion, because you get to know your new potential customers.

It can make you ’own’ the new field, make your brand an authority on the new market where nobody knew your name before. Here’s why – and how it works.

How content marketing will speed up your expansion

Digital communication allows for feedback. It means you can identify and understand your customers’ attitude and get to know their needs and demographic better.

With digital marketing there is enormous opportunity for companies to reach consumers that were once unreachable because of differences in geography and language.

By sharing unique content you can build a new community of customers who are loyal to your brand which they now have chosen to follow. You give them a reason to invest time in the newcomer brand.

By implementing the following tactics, you can use content marketing as a tool in growth strategies and market expansion.

When in Rome, understand the local context

Local knowledge is needed to adapt your strategy to the local market. Local expertise also makes it possible to create engaging stories to captivate the target audience and build confidence in the brand.

When in Rome …?

Understand the cultural differences of other countries and regions. It is key to value the local point of view. Take into consideration cultural differences. Seemingly minor mistakes might alienate your audience.

Pay attention and take ear to details such as colors, holidays, religious references, fiscal years, and even superstitions — missteps will signal you are an outsider.

Do your market research

Successful content marketing begins with knowing how to find your target audience. Don’t start creating content before knowing who your audience is.

First do some market research to assess the following:

  • Local gaps in the market
  • The interest in your product/service
  • Current population trends of the targeted customers
  • What have local competitors done in the target area?
  • Has potential competitors tried to enter this market before? What obstacles did they face? How did they approach the new market? What can you do differently?

Create buyer personas based on the new area/market. Buyer personas are extremely effective tools to help a business define a new target audience.

They are a representation of your ideal customer and growth segment. So identify the type of person you can help most with your content and the types of information you will provide through that content.

Make your brand speak the same language

72.1% of consumers spend most or all of their time on websites in their own language
. 72.4% of consumers said they would be more likely to buy a product with information in their own language. Also, less than six percent of the world’s population speaks English well enough to manage and conduct business.

Translating content is expensive, so you want to ensure that the content you choose for the process provides the optimal return on investment. Make sure you
 have native speakers in your team or network.

Does your team have the needed lingual capabilities to enter a new market? Working with content marketing in different countries requires cultural as well as linguistic competence.

A Common Sense Advisory study shows that languages affect consumers’ buying behaviors to a large extent. Therefore:

  • Measure and monitor your content to see what works best with the local readership
  • Have separate websites and landing pages for the different markets
  • Engage local experts to review everything before publishing

6 steps to get going with your content marketing

Beginning content creation before your expansion is crucial, because when an unfamiliar but interested customer hears about your brand, they will head online to seek further information.

So when you absolutely, positively understand the new market your expanding into:

  1. Find out what the objective of your marketing initiatives is
  2. Determine the best form of content
  3. Create a pattern of frequency
  4. Tailor the style to your audience on the new market
  5. Focus on keywords your audience searches for online
  6. Make sure your audience knows what to do once they have consumed your content

Read more:

Here’s the next big thing in marketing

”Traditional PR doesn’t work in social media”

Why content marketing may be your best decision in 2017

Do you want us to find your stories for you? We offer content marketing as your blog, newsletter or social media editors – read more about these services here.

First of all, before getting to the trend forecasting, I want to say:

Don’t buy into marketing trends.

Just stay updated to understand what people expect from you. Watch how the way people express their needs change over time, and tweak your communication to resonate with that. Be inspired, steal some ideas to integrate in your own marketing – but don’t buy into marketing trends 100 percent. You’ll lose your brand identity.

If you create communication and content on your website, blog and in your digital channels that is truly well-executed linguistically, gives your audience the knowledge and answers they are looking for, and do that by sharing stories told with the voice of your brand – then your marketing will be timeless. Years may go by and you’ll still be the top of mind go to-business.

So stay timeless. Watch the trends change like a meandering river of new ideas, but be quality, be style.

Successful creators have always known this, especially in the fashion industry:

‘Fashion changes, but style endures.’
– Coco Chanel

‘Fashions fade, style is eternal.’
– Yves Saint Laurent

‘The difference between style and fashion – is quality.’
– Giorgio Armani

‘Don’t be into trends.’
– Gianni Versace

That said, let’s have a look at what seems to be coming the marketer’s way during 2017 and 2018 – to know how to steer the wheel, and tweak your brand communication.

 

Digital marketing trends - ode agency

Digital marketing trends 2017-2018

It seems like everybody’s talking about VR (Virtual Reality), or even AR (Augumented Reality), but I’d say we’re still quite far from seeing this being part of people’s everyday lives – even though it’s becoming a part of marketing campaigns. It’s trendy, yet it’s already ‘last year’. VR is only the medium, not the marketing message itself (to argue against the theory of famous intellectual Marshall McLuhan, who said it was). And how interactive will it be?

Let’s focus on what major ideas – not tools – in society might influence the narrative of brands.

Breaking the taboos – and the norms

We’ll see slogans and campaigns challenging old rules, breaking taboos and using cross-gender concepts. This will mostly apply to the marketing of products and services for women, as these campaigns have not yet dared to explore the fields of humour, irony and satire. We’ll see marketing targeted at cross-gender segments, letting go of the idea of the male/female.

We’ll see marketing messages ”crossing the line”, and brands challenging their audience using unexpected or even vulgar language, or addressing controversial issues like the current political debates.

Would you dare to be more provoking, and break the taboos of your field? 

 

unreality as a destination

Unreality as a destination

We’re in between analog and digital, real and virtual. This will affect the way we do storytelling – we need to take into account the fact that people are gazing at the horizon, romantizising the unknown, the fantasy and the unreal. They will use social media and the digital world as escapism on a brand new level, a level that I call the unreality.

Dare to allude to the temptation of unreality in your storytelling.

Encourage imagination, turn concepts upside down, try looking at things from the opposite perspective. Forget A/B testing and leap into testing the unknown. What if you played around with your email subject lines or blog post headlines? Do what you’re least expected to do. That’s how you make unreality happen.

 

From the attention economy to the engagement economy

Reach and visitor numbers mean nothing without engagement and conversion. Websites and Facebook pages with many visitors or followers but almost no engagement will be punished by algorithms, that will automatically cut the reach and define them as informative, passive and irrelevant.

Remember that in the digital world, interaction is gold. It’s too expensive to focus on getting attention without getting engagement – it will cost you your reach and therefore your marketing budget.

Evaluate engagement, not reach. Because that’s what search engines and social media will make you pay for, if you don’t manage to achieve it organically. That’s the real value.

 

the authentic - ode agency

Authenticity – Back to the the unfiltered, the genuine, and the raw

With all polished designs and perfectly filtered pictures, we’re starting to crave the authentic alternative. We won’t leave our screens to go hiking in the wilderness, but we’d love to dream (read stories) about making it happen.

Forget the stock photos. Cracks and imperfections tell of something real – use them for storytelling your brand. Think #nofilter.

 

Newsletters becoming the new customer magazines

Have you heard of inbox zero?

The strive for companies to manage their email inboxes to always end the day with an empty inbox. Yes, inbox zero is a thing. Businesses are striving to become ”zero-email companies”. They communicate by phone, social media, or by connecting their staff on Slack or Skype.

As a marketer, you need to fight for your share of people’s attention span – especially in B2B marketing where keeping your inbox clean is sort of a work-feng-shui. Instead of distributing campaigns and special offers, do what companies have always done with success: Build your brand’s credibility, expertise and loyalty with customer magazines. But don’t print a 40-pages publication.

Collect your best stories in a newsletter that interested people voluntarily will sign up for, and distribute it regularly, once a month or so.

The newsletters will go from being a channel for internal updates to being a digital version of the popular content marketing product that is the customer magazine. Launch your own and watch your digital traffic increase.

From individualism to co-creation, sharing communities and teal

This paradigm shift in culture has only just started, and will continue over decades – in politics, business and art. In marketing, I’d say it’s about abandoning the strive for individual confirmation through social media, and rediscovering the power of the network, the virtual tribe and the next step in the sharing economy, that is enabled through social media.

In the digital world, this will lead to marketers targeting communities rather than individuals. What is another common interest among our audience? Shoes and football? Then, be where the shoes and football games are, and storytell the connection between that world and your brand with cross-sectional marketing.

Contribute to creating communities and groups within your field (and the neighbouring fields). Provide content and stories that show that your business understands this change: that you contribute to the group, the greater good, and the common strive.

In 2016 you understood the everyday struggles of the individual, in 2018 you understand the struggles of the collective.

When businesses start implementing more self-management and self-reliance, and decentralize the decision-making processes, they will experience issues and challenges in the group. It’s a tough identity shift for any business, so use your insights about this when shaping your B2B-communication.

dream-shadows-silhouettes - ode agency

From media producers to curators – AI choosing your stories

What comes next, after the filter bubble? Probably an automated service that will choose the right stories for you. Just like Spotify serves you suggestions with ”Discover Weekly”, based on your search history and the history of those who seem to behave like you, an algorithm will give you regular updates on what reads on the Internet would interest you.

It’s already there, but most likely it will boom.

As a marketer, be aware not only of how you articulate your content, but how you categorize it, how you make it search engine optimized (SEO), and how it connects and relates to existing content. Be clear on the context, on the user navigation, on the conversion optimization. On the purpose. Zoom out and try to see the whole picture.

How would a robot know why you’re worth someone’s five minutes of attention?

Artificial intelligence will not only choose journalistic content, but content from a variety of sources. Therefore, marketers that not only do their own marketing, but curate other stories and cover its field of interest, will rule. They will be the content sources.

As a brand, you need to become the content provider, as AI will be the media curator.

tech spirituality ode agency

Tech + spirituality – combining the two

The tech startup scene has managed to combine the creative exotic with the rational and nerdy. When anyone can code, we need the technology development to embrace new areas to avoid becoming just a means of building things.

That is, technology not as a tool, but as a means of realizing digital culture experiments.

We will see technology become a facilitator of spiritual search. Apps will help people disconnect from apps, virtual tools will help people become more grounded from virtual tools.

Isn’t that ironic?

As a marketer, look into how this idea can influence the stories you’re writing: the search for more time, for inner development, for self-fulfillment – not instead of being connected, but by being connected.

 

I name this trend forecast: Do you dare?

Because I think we’ll see people looking for alternative ways to value true and qualitative information, time and unfiltered reality – or unreality.

Those things are tomorrow’s currency. Be the content bank offering this currency.

My questions to you as a marketing person are:

Do you dare to break norms and take a stand with your marketing? To explore new topics and ways to articulate your message? To not only engage with your followers, but make them co-create? 

Are you ready to integrate even the unpolished side of your business in your communication? To shape your content to encourage engagement rather than reach?

To accept that an artificial intelligence will be the middleman between you and your audience? To not be the brand that people use to strengthen their identity, but the brand that groups and communities seek as a facilitator, knowledge, service and information provider for their purpose?

Then, aim to answer those needs and questions when choosing topics, angles, perspectives and stories for your content, that should constitute your most important digital marketing during these next two years.

Do you dare?

 


Read more:

Here’s the next big thing in marketing

”Traditional PR doesn’t work in social media”

Communicating sustainability in social media

Why content marketing may be your best decision in 2017

Do you want us to find your stories for you? We offer content marketing as your blog, newsletter or social media editors – read more about these services here.

Effective sustainability communication can deliver great business value. Get it wrong and the results might be minimal – and at worst the reputational damage might be costly. Here are the key strategies for success.

Sustainability communication in social media - ode agency

There was a time when nobody wanted to bring up the subject sustainability. When listed holding groups with legal requirements on sustainability reports were so reluctant that they let the enforced work of a few minor companies represent the whole group just to get away.

The advantages of sustainable development seemed few and risks were high. It was either ’too expensive’ or ’threatened to damage the brand’. Companies felt like they had to choose between being sustainable or ’sexy’, which left them afraid to communicate sustainability on a brand level.

That is no longer the case.

Are you sustainable or sexy?

Today sustainability is no longer only of interest to niche stakeholders, but has taken a hold in corporations around the world. Nine out of ten consumers expect companies to do more than profit – to also operate responsibly in environmental and social areas.

A sustainable business and a successful business are one and the same. It’s simply crucial for any brand to instill trust in its customers, and get significant value beyond financial return. Companies should integrate sustainability into all business areas and let it guide the decision-making as part of the business planning process.

And they do.

A majority of executives consider sustainability important, and the majority of companies are integrating sustainability principles into their businesses. They are also increasingly communicating their initiatives. Today it is sexy to be sustainable. Brands make efforts for better products, better conditions and better communities – and they want to show it to the world.

How to get the attention you deserve

But doing something doesn’t mean it’s done well. Companies increasingly highlight their sustainability activity, but do the messages and results reach the audience and get the attention they deserve? Are the initiatives given a real chance to create the biggest possible value for the community and company?

Instead of (only) publishing reports and white papers, or sending out press releases, on impacts and values, companies should use digital platforms and editorial approaches in social media. Digital content creates great opportunities to reach a wide and engaged audience in a compelling manner.

When used in the right way, social media can be an amplifier for the transparent, competitive advantage that business sustainability delivers.

Social media has been a change driver in how sustainability is communicated. But how to do it? How to harness the power of social media to create business sustainability value? Below we discuss what is and isn’t working for brand-level social media communication and explore key components for success.

Be a publisher

First of all, companies should view all social platforms as what they really are – publishing channels. Consider:

  • What your audience cares about
  • What you’ve got to say that’s in their interest
  • Where they want to get their information
  • What you do well and how to be useful with it
  • How to be transparent

Choose your digital channels wisely

Social media platforms have made companies ’publishers’. Great news for organizations that wish to share their sustainability efforts with consumers and other stakeholders. But your choice of channels must align with your communication strategy.

To develop a strong editorial voice in social media, and to be able to spark a sustainability dialogue among your employees, media, investors, NGOs, and consumers, you need to really handle the channel. Sustainability messages also seek to reach specific audiences. Needless to say then that those messages should be communicated through the audiences’ preferred channels.

Start a two-way conversation

’No man is an island’, wrote John Donne. You’re not the only one here.

Don’t just show off initiatives and results on a brick wall. Online there’s a huge potential audience to influence change. Engage people, make them a part of your journey. People obviously care about the topic, so create a two-way conversation.

Be your audience’s guide and collocutor.

By empowering people with the feeling that their voice matters and makes a difference, you get new input, increase reach and make people engage with your brand.

Focus on the big picture

We live in an over-communicated society where we’ve got seconds before the next wave of messages hits the audience. Be concise and send out clear, simple messages. Don’t be technical or get too much into detail. Instead of facts and figures – show a map of your journey.

To make your communication work and resonate outside the offices, it has to resonate with an audience that’s not used to hearing the technicalities. Show real results, in a simple way.

Down to earth – get off your high horses

Sustainability processes are complex, and it’s your task to demystify this subject and to speak a language that people understand.

Be personal and discuss issues that are closer to home – friends, family, nature, food, health and fitness – issues that affect people’s everyday lives. Social media is ideal for that purpose.

Sustainability work purifies and simplifies the world, which is something we all desire. Show that your initiatives, your improved business and products contribute to that.

Use imaginary motors

How much does the audience really care? Companies should make their sustainability journey something people care about and engage in. We need to be motivated. Use imaginary motors to get people going, to encourage action and participation.

  • Engage in your community. People love that.
  • Be adventurous and exciting. Focus on the adventure. Talk about traveling, new horizons. What’s cool.
  • Happiness is always a driving force.
  • Eternity. Sustainability work purifies and simplifies the world, which is something we all desire. Show that your initiatives, your improved business and products contribute to that.

Be genuine 

Don’t greenwash. It can and will seriously damage your brand. Don’t do and communicate sustainability work because there is a USP in it for you. Don’t do it because it sounds good, because everybody else is doing it or because it improves your reputation.

Do it because it’s in the interest of your business to have a positive impact and influence on your community. Because you genuinely care about that community, and that wanting to improve your world is integrated into your business strategy. Because it’s easier to operate in prosperous surroundings.

You’re not sexy because you do sustainability work. You’re sexy because you’re sustainable.

Be the story

It’s all about the story. By telling the story of corporate sustainability goals, actions, and performance in a compelling way, companies have the opportunity to engage with stakeholders and audience in more meaningful ways.

But how to be a good storyteller, you ask?

If you are doing a good work, you have a good story to tell.

 


Read more:

Here’s the next big thing in marketing

”Traditional PR doesn’t work in social media”

Why content marketing may be your best decision in 2017

Do you want us to help you in your strategic planning? We offer this as part of our communication strategy services – read more about them here.

Meet Björn Ekdahl, CEO, who talks about what separates me-too brands from unique, winning brands. 

Björn Ekdahl, Ode Agency

Hi Björn! What do you do at Ode?

– I’m the CEO. That’s short for a combination of chief everything officer and a learn-it-all. I try to be involved in as many parts of the business and with as many people as possible, with the goal to learn and understand as much as possible. Together with my team I’m building the go-to agency for high-quality content marketing in Europe.

– I also make coffee.

What’s your background?

– I’m originally a publisher. I worked for a production, PR and sales company within the publishing industry before founding a publishing house myself. My company got many requests for communication, agency services and international representation, so I started another business focusing on marketing and communication (believe it or not, but the book market doesn’t know anything about storytelling). Words have always been the most important to me, so that was a natural next step.

– The agency had an outspoken sustainability approach, helping big brands in the fashion and lifestyle industries with their sustainability work and to communicate that process. High-end brands used to be either conscious or sexy. What the companies appreciated now was the possibility to combine this. Sustainability is definitely not only something you do to build your image – or to be conscious and environmentally friendly – it’s an integrated part of the business model in long-lasting businesses.

– Given this background, with me living in Paris and with experience of executive roles I was asked to be CSO of sustainable luxury agency 1.618 Paris. Last autumn I joined Ode Agency.

What do you think is the main challenge for marketers today? 

– I see many. One is the fact that marketers still seem to be talking about ’digital marketing’, like it was something new and separated from ’marketing’ per se, like if you could go by with analog marketing. Today that’s a tautology. 

– Another one is to be able to measure and prove the ROI of your marketing activities – to get real value for your investments. PR and advertising might give your brand a boost, your 15 minutes of fame, which is great when running a campaign or launching a product. But to build your brand every day, even while you’re asleep, it takes more, unless you have an unlimited budget. 

And the most common marketing or communication mistake that companies make?

– This goes all the way back to the (lack of) business strategy. Brands communicate and market themselves without knowing who they are, without knowing their raison d’être. They often haven’t even asked themselves ’If we stopped existing today, what would our clients miss tomorrow?’ They are me-too brands, or also-rans, without a unique purpose and position. Before marketing and communicating you have to have a bulletproof reason why people should turn to you instead of your competitors.

What do you do at work, when you think that no one sees you?

– I walk around in circles with a pen in my hand, it preferably resting on my lips. I’ve convinced myself that I think better when I do that, but maybe it’s just a wish to look like the tortured artist. 

Where do you find inspiration?

– In classical music. But most of all in the moment. By chance or a sudden impulse, by something someone says or does. Something I see or happen to hear (read: eavesdrop). Every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it’s the task of the sculptor to discover it, if I may quote Michelangelo.