Wednesday, February 10, 2016


The basic 5Ws rule of content is WHO+WHAT+WHEN+WHERE+WHY. It is the formula for the first paragraph of any news story, summarizing basic facts. As well, if it is known, HOW something happened will also be explained, and we will deal with some of that also in this article.

The W5 formula applies to Content Marketing and indeed to Digital Marketing in its entirely, as shown in the diagram and explained below. However, as discussed, the key central element throughout is WHY, not WHO.

Being accustomed to drive sales through advertising, most CMOs are doing Digi-Marketing backwards. They are locked into thinking about WHAT their advertising should say and WHERE to place it. This puts the cart before the horse. Marketing today is driven by the customer, so you must first determine WHOM you are trying to reach, and particularly WHY they might be interested.

Once that is decided, then figure out WHAT they want or need, and WHERE and WHEN they want it. And in each case, you must always ask WHY? Only then will you come close to understanding what drives customer motivations and expectations in the digital era. 

WHO Might be Interested and WHY ... and WHAT Business Are We In Anyway? 

You first need to ask WHY would anyone want this (or some other) product and service, and WHO are they? This question also forces you to clearly define WHAT business you are in, WHY, and for WHOM? Such key questions are what motivate new start-ups, and existing companies must constantly think like a start-up if they are to succeed. A prime example is Amazon which is constantly innovating like a start-up.

This question also relates to Market Research, which in the main is useless and will tell you nothing. As Steve Jobs pointed out, the customer doesn't know WHAT they want until they see it, so there is no point asking them. So the WHO+WHY is an iterative question that determines WHAT the customer wants, identifies WHO the potential customers are, and in turn defines or redefines WHAT business you are really in.

That last answer likely will require you to undertake a thorough business transformation, or at least a re-think of WHAT is your purpose. For example:
  • Banks are not in the money business. In the digital era, banks are in the business of information about money. They must become digitized in every aspect because their customers are all going digital and mobile, and they expect things instantly.
  • Courier companies are not in the package delivery business. Rather they are in the business of information about packages, all managed via the digital tracking code. The package becomes incidental.
Digitization thus changes customer expectations and in turn demands changes in business models. Once the business is redefined or transformed, the target customer and HOW to reach them can be more clearly identified.

Notice that I just said customer not customers. Each and every customer is as individual as their digital fingerprints. You need to be doing one-to-one customized marketing to digital customers, WHO form segments of one. Yes, these customers will self-segment or cluster in communities online. But they may well belong to various segments simultaneously, depending on WHO they are (their Digital DNA), WHAT they WANT (and WHY), as well as WHERE+WHEN they WANT it (and WHY).

In terms of HOW to determine WHO, you will use Big Data to determine their Digital DNA and to manage each customer relationship according to their unique needs and expectations. You need a behavioral marketing platform which compiles demographic, psychographic, and technographic information about each customer, and creates data-driven personas to guide your content engagement strategy. This also will allow you to write persona-specific content and track how well you are reaching your chosen prospects.

WHAT do Your Individual Customers WANT, and WHY? 

In the digital economy and marketplace, all products and services must be seen as digitized content. Whether you make products or offer services, you mainly are in the content business, and each product must be packaged and presented as customized content. 

Each customer WANTS digi-customized and engaging content about your offerings. They want to understand the product and whether it meets their specific needs. They may also seek the opinions of others about the product. But in the end, the product must satisfy their personal own special needs, based on the relevant content that you provide, not old-fashioned advertising.

So forget all about traditional advertising. Also, unlike with paid media campaigns or direct sales channels, Content Marketing requires patient engagement. In most cases, your immediate goal is not on-the-spot sales conversion. But done well, you will not have any abandoned shopping carts.

The content you offer must draw prospects in and engage them. Digi-Marketing is all about "pull" content marketing, not "push" in-your-face advertising. Most customers use ad-blocking software simply because they do not want to even glimpse a split second of your advertising, no matter how spectacular it might be, because they find it annoying and irrelevant to them personally.

Sure, they may watch a viral or Super-Bowl adverts, but they do so purely for entertainment value. It will not convince them to buy your product, nor to be loyal to your brand, unless you fundamentally and individually engage them with in-depth and personally-relevant content.

Only when they are fully content (pun intended) can you talk about product pricing and packaging. Even then, the key differentiator is not going to be Price but the total Value package on offer. This includes delivery, loyalty points, etc., and the remaining Ws of the package. Only the total content value package will define the brand and build loyalty over time, through complete personal satisfaction.

The better you define WHO+WHAT+WHY, the more you will know about them personally. Then and only then can you effectively answer the two remaining Ws: WHERE and WHEN.

WHERE + WHY do they prefer Product Delivery to Occur?

WHERE replaces Place in the old 4P model of marketing, which typically was a few restricted places or narrow channels. In a world of the always-available Internet, you need to determine WHERE is the best Place both to communicate your WHAT content, and to deliver the product itself. 

During the WHO research phase, you will have learned WHERE your prospects spend time online. That is exactly WHERE you must try to reach and engage them. If your target audience likes video, focus on YouTube. Position your other content on Facebook and LinkedIn, based on your target's DNA persona, and then amplify it across high-profile news websites. Then they will become engaged and ready to act.

This all comes down to Omni-Channel Mobile Digi-Marketing, where engaging digital content and the product itself must be accessible anywhere the customer happens to be, and on any device they happen to be using, on an interactive and personalized basis.

In other words, Place becomes Anyplace. It is WHERE the customer happens to be along the purchase journey. They may wish to interact from their couch, their bed, their kitchen, their garden or balcony, while commuting, at the office, at an airport or hotel, on an airplane, even in a bathroom, or at the gym. The device they use along the journey may be a PC, a laptop, a tablet, or a cellphone, and their experience must be seamless and smooth, or they will abandon you. 

WHEN + WHY do they prefer Interaction to Occur?

This seamless experience must occur in real time, 24/7, anytime. It must be immediate and convenient, every time, and flawless. Your website cannot go down, ever, or they may never return. It must load within 3 seconds, or they are gone elsewhere. It must be intuitive and smooth to navigate back and forth as needed, as they scan other customer ratings and speedily compare content and total value price of your product versus competitor offerings.

To maximize content exposure, publish it during social media prime time, which will vary by customer. Indeed, user search and research along the customer journey likely will not even closely match the traditional sales cycle. That again is why traditional advertising doesn't work. Tailor your content calendar to target high-potential personas, on their timetable, not yours.

The overall WHY of it all: the "WOW" Experience - Think Amazon

Your overall Digi-Marketing efforts must deliver a "Wow" experience, every time. Customers have been spoiled by Amazon's "Wow" experience, and they are still the benchmark of "Wow".

It is astonishing that most other companies have not even come close to duplicating the Amazon experience, from product search and navigation to ordering and super-fast delivery. It is basically flawless because Amazon is the digital master of Digi-Marketing.

Once was a start-up online bookstore, Amazon is the world's biggest digital merchandiser of almost anything you can think of. Pure and simple, Amazon is in the business of delivering "Wow" shopping experiences. There is no reason Why you cannot do the same, regardless of the type of business or market sector in which you operate.

So figure out WHY you are in business, for WHOM, and then think like a start-up to blow each customer's digital mind.

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