Whether you want to believe it or not, it’s true: we can learn quite a bit from dogs about content marketing. No, I’m not saying you should sit down and have a fireside chat with Spot about content marketing best practices (but if you do, please video record and post). There are a few things that dogs do that are not so different from their human counterparts. If we take a close look at some of these behaviors, we can learn a thing or two about how to be better content marketers (and dog owners!).
Dogs Will Do Tricks…For a Reward
My dog is a Border Collie/Australian Shepherd mix. He absolutely loves doing tricks. He likes to be engaged and use his brain as much as possible, so he picks up on new tricks very quickly. Here’s the rub: he wants a treat. Every time. Every time I ask for his paw or instruct him to balance something on his nose…he does it. But if I don’t deliver on my half of the unspoken agreement, he pouts. And if I ask him to do the trick again, he balks.
Humans are pretty similar in this regard. Formally, we do this when we buy goods and services. You give me something I want (a product or service) and I give you what you want (money). Fair trade. If I give you money and you fail to deliver the goods or services, we have a problem. This agreement is also a part of content marketing. When I offer high-value content for download (an ebook or a guide), I would like something in return (your email address). One might look at it from the opposite perspective, too. When you come to my website looking for quality information, you’re willing to trade some of your own information so long is the content makes it worth it. Both sides have to deliver for it to be beneficial.
As content marketers, that means ensuring that you are creating content that is worthy of an email address. It also means offering content that is not gated. In order for people to know whether or not they want to give up their contact information, they need to have a sense of the type of information and content you can provide. This is why it’s important to have a good track record of producing high-quality content.
Dogs Require You to Earn Their Trust
Lobo (my brainiac shepherd mix and also our CTO) simply does not trust new people. He doesn’t. You could be a celebrity, Nobel Prize winner, or Cesar Millan. It makes no difference to Lobo. If he doesn’t know you, he doesn’t trust you. People are not all that different. I, for one, may not be quite as territorially predisposed as Lobo, but I do carefully curate my social circles and the type of information, businesses, and organizations I allow into my flow. I am not alone in this.
People have standards about who they trust — and this extends to businesses too. Just because you say you offer the best solution or purport to have authority on industry trends doesn’t mean people will believe you. What’s more, merit doesn’t necessarily equate to trust. Even if you are an authority on a subject or offer a great solution, if the people behind your brand suck, you will have a hard time garnering trust from your audience.
This is where content marketing can play a key role in fostering trust and credibility. Back to Lobo: the more he is exposed to a new person (and frankly, the more that new person brings treats), the easier it is for him to get acclimated to their presence and begin to trust that they are an OK person. This takes 1) time, 2) treats, and 3) a constant show of good character.
When it comes to content marketing, those qualities are completely transferable (yes, even the treats). First, you need time. You can’t expect to create one article or white paper and have an enamored audience. Instead, focus on creating consistent, high-quality content for the long-haul. Not only will it take time for your audience to warm to you, but it also takes time for SEO benefits (and more traffic) to materialize. Second, give your audience treats. The more you engage and entice with free, ungated content and other interesting goodies, the more inclined they will be to return. Finally, keep placing your audience first. Displaying good character means continuing to deliver on your organization’s mission and values. This should happen across all areas of your business, including your content marketing. Add value. Provide Insights. Be kind.
Dogs Read Body Language
The old adage that dogs can smell fear is not scientifically proven; however, many studies have shown that dogs can detect certain smells, tics, and body language that help them understand when a person is displaying a particular emotion like fear. This sort of “emotional intelligence” allows them to respond in an appropriate way, depending on the circumstances.
Since content marketers focus on the digital realm, reading actual body language is not possible. That said, there is such a thing as digital body language, which looks at a person’s “user behavior” to better understand the psychology of costumers as they navigate various digital touchpoints of a brand. By tracking and analyzing this digital body language, marketers can become more attuned to what motivates buyers and adjust and tailor experiences to meet them. In this way, brands can be emotionally intelligent too.
Content marketing can use this type of digital tracking and analysis to discover what content resonates with an audience, which falls flat, and which might need some tweaking to get the desired response. Great content marketing is always a work in progress. Strong content marketers are always creating content and always updating and tweaking content based on analysis of existing content. It’s cyclical, it’s data-driven, and it leverages a deep understanding of human behavior and emotions.
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