“Great content” isn’t enough

This has the power to transform everything you do in 2014. Imagine a magic wand that can make all the work you currently do more effective at generating customers and profit.

This wasn’t as important years ago when the economy was good. Today, there are far more distractions, and consumers are a lot more discerning about where to spend their money.

Last week I told you about the Northwestern University Media Management Center study that revealed people are not reading newspapers, magazines and blog sites for news; they are there for a “time-out” experience. Here are the reasons for reading that researchers heard from consumers and the real basis of whether a consumer liked a particular newspaper, blog or magazine:

“It takes my mind off other things that are going on.”

“It’s an escape.”

“I like to go to this site when I am eating or taking a break.”

“It is my reward for doing other things.”

“I like to kick back and wind down with it.”

“It’s a quiet time.”

“I feel less stress after reading it.”

So, while newspaper reporters thought they were in the business of delivering the news, in fact, they were really delivering a time-out experience for their readers. Spending time with a newspaper is a break in the day for readers, a break and a tradition. And no amount of fact-checking or renewed focus on getting the story right is going to better satisfy this need.

It’s the same with us info-marketers; we often focus too much on delivering great “content.” But that’s just one of the reasons why consumers buy from us.

The people behind Food Network and its website, FoodTV.com, caught on to this and applied these lessons early as they built their cable network. Their approach is enlightening.

When it first debuted, Food Network featured the standard “stand and stir” hosts. Viewers who are more “armchair chefs” than cooks liked the shows but were frustrated that the recipes were too complicated. Also, research showed that viewers liked the more inspirational programs depicting food in exotic locations rather than in a studio kitchen.

Enter Rachel Ray. The Food Network films her programs in interesting locations featuring easy to prepare recipes. Rachel also has a casual style of presenting that gives the impression that the audience and Rachel are friends. The program transports viewers to faraway cities to enjoy great food with a friend, even if the viewer doesn’t get to actually taste the food.

The Food Network’s producers have carried this formula to the FoodTV.com website. The “high concept” for the FoodTV.com site is composed of three experiences identified by the Northwestern University research: “utilitarian,” “anchor camaraderie” (a connection with TV personalities) and “makes me smarter.”

What does this mean for info-marketers? I’ll explain:

Utilitarian – For FoodTV.com, this is the actual recipes. If FoodTV.com had stopped there, it would have a simple database site with thousands of recipes but no customer connection. It’s the same for you; you have to have recipes. This is your content that gives your customer the ability to solve a problem. But this is only part of what you must provide.

Anchor Camaraderie – These are big words, but they simply mean the FoodTV.com site strives to create a personal connection between its hosts and the audience. The site has sections such as “Who’s Cooking?” that highlight personality-based solutions. A visitor who feels like getting close to a TV personality can create one of the recipes for her family that evening. The experience of cooking a meal that has been prepared by the host creates a connection in the viewer’s mind. This is magic because it creates loyalty and long-term relationships. Talking to your viewers, revealing your personality and making a connection are as important as providing recipes.

Makes Me Smarter – FoodTV.com is a lot more than recipes; it provides cooking tips, health commentary as well as food safety advice. While you could focus on recipes, your audience members want much more than that. They want to feel like they have learned something, not just satisfied one problem for one day. And that was my goal for this series of messages to you. This isn’t the step-by-step info-marketing you’d expect; instead, I have worked to present new ideas and illuminate them in creative ways for you.

So that’s the formula: utilitarian, camaraderie and make your customers smarter. This is the essence of the time-out experience customers are looking for. It’s easy for a customer to get distracted by a video of a cat playing the piano, but it doesn’t provide this important experience. We’ll create long-term success by offering a valuable time-out experience for our customers.

What do you think? Does it make info-marketing too difficult? How do you strive to deliver the time-out experience to your customers? Join the discussion. I read every comment and reply when appropriate.


Best wishes,

About Robert Skrob

The problem with subscription membership programs is that members quit, I fix that problem. For more than 20-years I have specialized in direct response marketing for member recruitment, retention and ascension in diverse subscription members environments including non-profit associations, for-profit publishers/coaching, subscriptions and SAAS companies. For an evaluation of your current churn rate and how I can improve it, contact me here. I discover there are often two or three quick wins you can implement within a week to lower churn immediately, let’s talk about your quick wins.
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