Marketers (for better or worse) have long played psychological tricks on their customers. These ”dark arts” turn sharp consumers into witless drones compelled to slap 20s down on the shop counter. Must buy stuff…
My two favorite tools of persuasion are consistency and commitment. The majority of us — as consumer marketers know — can’t hold an inconsistent position or go back on a public commitment. We’d spontaneously combust.
Let’s use a couple of examples from Robert B. Cialdini’s excellent book, “Influence.”
How do you get 700 percent more volunteers for charity work? Simply call people and ask them to agree that giving a few hours to charity is a good thing. Then follow up a week later with a request to give up a few hours for charity. Response rates will soar because people stay consistent to their initial response. It’s a good thing to do.
Know any smokers (still) struggling to give up the leaf? Encourage them — the next time they quit — to make a very public declaration of their intent. It turns out commitment is as big a drag as nicotine.
Think about it. What two virtues do you associate with consistency? I’d say honesty and reliability. They are powerful forces: Politicians will tell you (unbelievable as it sounds) that consistency can be more credible and electable than doing the right thing.
The content marketing impact
Bringing the power of commitment into your B2B content marketing cockpit can help your planning, communication, execution, and measurement fly.
Here are 10 scenarios that show the benefits of deploying this commitment in every content campaign, and in front of every stakeholder, starting with the person that matters most: ourselves.
1) Building motivation
If you’re running a content marketing campaign, then its success depends on you. You’re the driving force. You need to make it work.
And where’s the best place to start? With a written and public commitment, going into as much detail as possible, on exactly what you expect to achieve.
The act of creating key performance indicators (KPIs) means you will believe strongly in them. And you will think consistently (and more creatively) about hitting them. And that means you are more likely to achieve them.
Action item: Write formal plans for every content campaign.
2) Winning buy-in
Struggling to get your boss or client to agree to a content marketing program?
Focus on a small project and take a small commitment in return. It will be enough to ensure your next proposal will be received with a convert’s gusto.
Action item: Manage upwards to win executive commitment.
3) Boosting a profile
A committed plan (endorsed by your biggest stakeholder) will help you build your project’s profile.
Focusing on real results demands attention and, if you sell it right, will earn consistent support from other team members. Your clarity and commitment will be infectious: Successful teams are always the best supported.
Action item: Manage sideways to gather peer support.
4) Intensifying focus
Most organizations are good at creating content. But they lose focus after launch day and turn to the next piece trundling along the production line.
And who cares? You do. A forgotten campaign will underperform and fail to meet your commitment. Unacceptable. You’re a marketer with a mission and you can’t watch it self-destruct in a matter of days.
Action item: Set clear timelines that extend as long as possible.
5) Using data
It’s sad but true: Most content marketing data is deployed in a post-rationalization frenzy. But you need meaningful data every day.
You don’t want to blind stakeholders with pseudo-chart science. You want data that shows how a campaign can be consistently improved. It’s not an end to justify the means. It’s the means to deliver the end.
Action item: Benchmark your goals and check them daily.
6) Embracing change
A data-driven campaign gets leaner and better over time. It responds to changes in environment, reacts to surprising outcomes, and regroups around results and feedback.
Your fixed commitment is to results, but your methods of getting there must be flexible.
Action item: Refer to your plan and tweak as required.
7) Managing promotion
Turning on a sixpence of data pays handsomely with more effective promotion. Content is everywhere these days. You can build it but, unless you promote it, they probably won’t come.
If the old adage is true, only half your initial commitment will work. But, the good news is, you now know which half. Do more of it. And stop doing the rest. Don’t turn on the promotion taps unless you’re ready to patch up the leaks.
Action item: Don’t commit all your promotion up front. Pay as you learn.
8) Generating ideas
Committed marketers don’t see a video or an eBook. You see a big idea that contains lots of smaller ideas ready to be picked, tested, and optimized.
You need to be relentless in finding new ideas, angles, and insights to blog (and guest blog), tweet, cross-reference, and turn into sub-campaigns. You will fuse creative treatments with data to optimize referrals, key phrases, and sources.
Action item: Have regular brainstorms to reinvent your campaign.
9) Building reputations
Many organizations (for better or worse) think marketers are flakey: people who talk intangibles and resist measurement. They don’t see them as honest and reliable contributors to revenue targets. But you do.
Your star will rise as you set out (and deliver) marketing campaigns focused on delivering meaningful metrics that the business respects. Become the marketer your boss or client dreams about.
Action item: Present your results in as many formats as possible.
10) Granting wishes
B2B marketers say they’d love to do this, but they’re not in control. The organization is complex. Big commitments paint them into corners. Why put your head above the parapet?
You do it to take control. You do it to succeed or show what’s holding your organization back. And get the mandate for change. We end as we begin: by empowering ourselves.
Action item: Every great story has a subplot. Build your own.
Using commitment and consistency can transform content marketing’s profile, advocacy, and success. As Cialdini writes:
“Once an active commitment is made, then, self-image is squeezed from both sides by consistency pressures. From the inside, there is a pressure to bring self-image into line with action. From the outside, there is a sneakier pressure — a tendency to adjust this image according to the way others perceive us.”
It’s true. We know because we did it. Check out Project Open Kimono, our case study, to see how we harnessed the power of consistency to take us to places we never thought we’d go. It’s a lesson we’ll never forget.