Behind the Headlines With Michael Brito
According to Michael Brito, head of U.S. Digital Marketing at LEWIS Pulse, you need to understand your audience’s unique needs and reach them in new and unexpected ways.
In this interview, Michael shares his advice for brands looking to break through the noise, stand out and grab their audience’s attention.
What’s the biggest lesson about marketing you’ve learned throughout your career?
The industry is moving at rapid speed. Consumer adoption of technology is unpredictable, and social networking sites are dynamic and constantly innovating their products.
To stay relevant in a very distracted world, you can’t get too caught up on the next bright and shiny object like Snapchat or Instagram. While these channels are important and highly used, it’s more important for you to keep an eye on your specific audience – their use of technology, conversation patterns, media consumption, etc.
If you can do that effectively, it’s much easier for you to pivot quickly and engage in the channels that actually matter to your audience and with the content that can break through the clutter. That is the lesson I have learned over the last 15+ years.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing brands today? How can they overcome it?
Content. Several reports over the last three to five years validate that brands have a hard time creating relevant content, more specifically the “right content, at the right time, in the right channel and to the right customer.”
This is due to lack of budget, internal resources and in many cases, not having the right internal teams and agencies to execute correctly.
There are several ways to overcome this challenge though, especially in large, complex organizations. Many brands are now starting to focus on employee advocacy, whereby they are starting to operationalize a workforce to “participate” and tell the brand story.
This type of content is more trustworthy and credible, more so than most other marketing activities. Plus, building programs like this can increase the surplus of content for you to repurpose on branded channels.
With so much content saturating the marketplace, how can brands stand out?
There are two ways that brands can stand out in today’s marketplace: employee storytelling and strategic paid media.
Others refer to this as employee advocacy, and it can come in many forms to include thought leadership, customer support, social selling, etc. It’s important, however, to ensure that employee content is aligned to the overall brand narrative. The following is a model that I have been working on that illustrates how employee content can align closer to the brand, with detailed explanation below.
Data will give you the insights you need to find whitespace in the market.
Whitespace is that key nugget that no one else in the market owns. You can extract patterns of behavior, conversation analysis and audience insights that will help deliver the core positioning of employee content.
The “winnable moment” is that North Star that makes your brand unique from everyone else and allows your brand (through your employees) to own a very specific piece of the conversation.
The employee content framework is one way to categorize your content and allows your employees to tell their stories through three different lenses, whereby:
- Your employees are the hero of the story: stories all about your employees, the value they bring to the market, products/services; sometimes can be perceived as egotistical if not balanced with other types of stories.
- Your employees are characters in a broader story: stories about your customer, the value your customers receive from solving technology challenges or business problems in partnership with your employees; should not be self-serving and stories must show humility and lead with customers first.
- Your employees comment on a third-party story: stories about your employees’ point of view about a topic in the market, the market itself or a topic that resonates with an audience and also relevant to the brand; must add value to the market, educate and provide thought leadership.
This is just one example of a framework you can use to create a content strategy for your employee program but there are several other considerations to think about when designing content for employees. You can read a full white paper that I created on this topic called “Employee Brand Storytelling.”
A lot of traditional public relations practitioners hesitate to use paid media to reach an audience because “that’s marketing’s job” but there is no other alternative, and paid media isn’t the bad guy if used the right way.
Of course the content itself must add value and be relevant to an audience for paid media to be effective. But the benefits of using paid media can ensure that you are getting your content right in front of a very specific and well-defined audience.
It’s fairly easy to build custom audiences in the social channels so you know exactly where your paid media investments are going and who it is you are reaching. It takes out the guess work completely.
How should brands decide what type of content to create? How can they know what their audience will respond to?
There is a content and media surplus in the market. Your customers have an attention deficit. They have tunnel vision and only want to consume content that is relevant to them at a very specific moment in time. To make it worse, their media consumption habits and online behavior is unpredictable.
This makes it extremely difficult to reach an audience – whether it’s an IT Decisions Maker, a physician, millennial, developer or an affluent consumer, you name it. You can’t just launch a campaign and expect to make a difference much less any business impact whatsoever without understanding who it is you are talking to.
But imagine if you had the intelligence that can define your audiences’ behavior online? What type(s) of media they consume, their specific language and context when talking about key issues relevant to your business? Their level of influence in the marketplace? Their platforms of choice or what time(s) they are online? Essentially, knowing what makes that specific audience unique from everyone else?
This intelligence is critical. And, this is how you break through the clutter and reach your audience with content and ideas that matter – to them, not you.
Rapid Fire Round
1. My favorite social media platform is…LinkedIn, hands down.
2. If I was stuck on a desert island, I’d…try to find a Wi-Fi connection.
3. The thing that gets me up in the morning is…Milan and Savannah, my two girls.
4. My hobbies outside of work include…sports, video games and being a personal (unpaid) Uber driver to my girls.
5. My biggest pet peeve is…content marketers using content marketing to talk about content marketing.
6. One thing most people don’t know about me is…that I used to be break dancer.
Image via Michael Brito
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