Most creative individuals — whether we’re talking about rock stars, actors, or artists — don’t start with the audience in mind. Although they deliver content that appeals to widespread audiences, the creative process often begins as a personal journey.
There’s a lesson here that might not seem intuitive. While it’s obviously important to understand your audience, more loyal customers can come from putting yourself first. Simon Sinek put it best: “The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.”
This is how creatives build strong bonds with their audiences — they share a genuine connection through art. Marketers can learn to emulate that connection in a field where authenticity might not be as common as we’d like. Who doesn’t want to do business with a personal connection?
For brands to nurture genuine connections, they must look inward to discover their purpose and communicate that story without guile. Intercom provides a great example of a company that creates content for the sake of quality rather than marketing.
By developing personal, meaningful content and positioning it properly, marketers can steal a few tricks of the trade from creative fields to forge stronger audience connections.
Whether you’re marketing a brand or a band, high-quality creative content adds another dimension to your story. Marketing creates visibility, but that step cannot come until after the content is complete.
Music, as an example, relies on personal connections to form audience bonds. Lyrics and melody create an initial impression, but a live performance can seal the deal as audience members feel the authenticity of the message straight from the band. That organic relationship allows the audience to bond with the musicians through an unspoken conversation. The band might alter its set list on the fly to match audience requests, or it might play with more or less intensity, depending on the audience response.
On the surface, concerts don’t seem to have a lot in common with business-to-business marketing. Dig in a bit deeper, and they’re actually not that different. Both begin with an authentic creation of value. As engagement increases, the marketers (or band members) respond to feedback from the audience to deliver something relevant, if not directly personal. That connection is critical, as 87 percent of consumers say personally branded content gives them a positive impression of a brand.
The timing of that connection is also important, though not in the way most marketers assume. In the same way musicians give each audience a unique experience, marketers should cue off different data points to deliver content when it can make the biggest impact. Behavioral data makes these connections possible, allowing marketers to listen and adjust accordingly.
Whether you’re wielding a Fender Stratocaster or the latest and greatest piece of content personalization software, it’s crucial to connect with your audience. Follow these four steps to start an authentic conversation and keep your audience engaged.
People respond to authenticity, so be as genuine as possible. Every company ultimately must generate revenue, but think about the other reasons your company exists. What problem do you solve? Why do you solve it better than others? Why do you solve it at all? By tapping into the “why” behind your company, you can create meaningful connections with the people whose problem your product or service solves.
For artists and brands alike, the experience is everything. The deeper the audience’s engagement, the more powerful the experience becomes — and the longer the impression lasts.
About 30 years after the fact, I still remember the punk rock flyers I saw plastered to the sides of telephone poles. I didn’t go to every show, but the art on those posters connected to the music and the culture in my mind to create unforgettable impressions. By definition, they were connected content experiences.
By creating experiences that connect with audiences in the same way, marketers can transcend marketing. While conversions are great, you’ll need to consider every stage of the customer journey. By moving beyond one-sided advertising to open, genuine conversations, brands can foster connections and inspire brand loyalty.
Like most young musicians, I started out writing songs that sounded like the creations of my heroes. These repeated attempts to be like someone else always fell flat. As famed composer Igor Stravinsky once said, “Lesser artists borrow; great artists steal.”
Once I gave up the emulation game and began to write for myself — while still using my favorite bands as inspiration — my songwriting improved. Most importantly, it was authentically me.
Brands can inspire natural connections by focusing on their own authentic stories. By understanding the factors that drive your company and your messaging, you can avoid a scenario where you’re at a loss for words. Get the story straight, and everything else will fall into place.
You don’t have to replace your entire marketing strategy overnight. Pick a single strategy, audience, or aspect of your story; once you’ve created a foundation, build from there. As you add pieces to create a bigger picture, you’ll develop your core brand message and create a continuum of content.
Most musicians start by learning the seven-note scale. While simple in construct, that scale sets the foundation for musicians to create meaningful works of art. By starting with the appropriate tools, both musicians and marketers can transform humble beginnings into unforgettable experiences.
You don’t have to be a rock star to be a great marketer, but you can learn a lot from music legends about resonating with your audience and leaving a lasting impression. These four lessons from the creative world can help anyone develop an authentic message that captivates crowds while showcasing unique insight.
This article first appeared on relevance.com