Betty White is Mfalme

Even true statements like, “content is king” can become quite cliché after a while. Using “mfalme,” the Swahili word for “King,” may not make it much less cliché but it does help make a nice transition into the analogy I’m about to use:

Some potential customers are like Kenyan children. Others are like Kenyan adults. Which customers you attract depends on what you offer.

Where the hell am I going with THIS?

In 2008, my wife and I went with a group to visit a small village near Nakuru, Kenya. The organization has been building schools and orphanages in this village for nearly a decade. Besides leading summer camp kind of activities, I don’t know how much good we did. I feel like the old saying is true: “Africa gave me far more than I gave Africa.”

The children of this village are the happiest people in the world and they don’t really care why you’re there. They don’t seem to question your purpose or ask for anything from you except love. They just want to get to know you and to play with you. If you’re genuinely interested in them, they love you just for being you. They love you for your personality.

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Adults, on the other hand, are more stand-offish. I didn’t take offense to it, as it’s just part of their culture. Where kids are all smiles and fun, the adults are stern faced and serious. Most American adults don’t know the realities of the kind of hard work that is required for these adults to provide for their families. They simply don’t have time for silliness and fun.

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Adults don’t come running up to you for hugs when you’re just walking around the village like kids do. They’ll gather if you offer them something as they did when our group helped distribute food, but as soon as the supplies are exhausted, they are gone about their business.

When you’re communicating with customers and potential via social media, there are really only two things you can do to effectively attract attention: You can provide engaging, informing or entertaining content that accurately communicates your brand, or you can offer coupons, discounts and giveaways (CDG). Don’t go trying to look up this acronym in the marketing books. I just made it up. I’m a copywriter. Making crap up is what I do.

Most marketers make the mistake of engaging only in CDG because they’re brass tax, by the numbers kind of thinkers. They want to see direct ROI, know exactly where every lead came from and exactly what caused it. CDG are definitely easy to measure, but they also attract customers who are more like those Kenyan adults. These customers don’t really care who you are. They’re loyal to coupons, discounts and giveaways, not to brands or personalities. As long as you offer CDG, they’ll line up to take what you’re offering. But as soon as your supplies are exhausted, they’re on to the next discount.
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Focusing on creating good content that connects the personality of your brand to your customer attracts a different kind of customer: the brand loyalist, the Kenyan child. This customer will like you for who you are, for what your company represents. The more you entertain them, make them laugh, show them the love and engage them on a level to which they can relate, the more loyalty they will show you.

Case in point: Snickers. The world’s most popular candy bar has had a tough time this past decade dealing with the rise of the energy bar. But instead of taking to social media with profit-killing “BOGO” offers, the Mars company enlisted the help of TBWA, New York to craft content that would propel the brand. Not only did the campaign, “You’re not you when you’re hungry” lead the brand to an increase in sales, it literally brought actress Betty White out of retirement and resurrected her career. And while the Mars Company invested millions in television advertising, debuting this campaign during the 2010 Superbowl, the content had already been released and had gone viral through Facebook.
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Another great example is one of this year’s most popular Superbowl ads, The Force, began as content spread virally through social media. Days before kickoff of the big game, the spot already had millions of views. Really? A commercial? People chose not only to watch a commercial but to suggest it to their friends? Yes! Because it was good content first, sales message second. It attracted the kind of potential customers who are interested less in Coupons, Discounts and Giveaways and more on the connection with the company’s personality, delivered through good content.
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No matter how media has changed and how methods of delivering sales messages to potential customers has changed, the fact was, is and will always remain: Content is mfalme.

Is your business communicating through good content or CDG sales speak?

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