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People matter. No matter which industry we find ourselves in and whatever products and services we are marketing, the competitor down the road may well have a very similar offer.

Differentiation is absolutely essential in this chaotic, noisy and commoditised world. When products and services become copy-cat and ubiquitous there is little or no chance to rely on them in your marketing to stand out from the competition.

Think mobile phones, FMCG and commoditised B2B products. How hard it is in these sectors to differentiate, especially without committing millions in advertising and branding spend. So what can you do?

The answer lies in the People inside your business. Your people are an amazing asset for your marketing communications and the key reason is that they are one of your unique sales propositions (USPs). Your competitors do not have your people. The individuals, the teams, the culture and the internal communication and operations are unique to your business and this is why they can be used as an intriguing, enticing and even entertaining ingredient in your marketing content.

Firstly, identify any key people in your business who would be good ‘faces of the organisation’. Who reflects your brand most accurately? Their style, tone of voice and communication skills should align closely with the message and brand style you are looking to convey. It is important that your faces of the organisation will resonate with your target customer personas. This is vital because it is these relationships and interactions that you are looking to foster above all others.

Secondly, let people in your business self-select their involvement to be part of the content production and marketing communications. It is much easier to retain momentum and content production in the medium to longer term if you have people involved who are driven and motivated to contribute and really own their involvement. This will be far more effective than nominating or ordering someone to do this role.

Third, identify the more interesting roles or projects in your business that your target customer persona would find intriguing and motivating. As your faces of the organisation start to story-tell about what’s going on in the business and their role, it makes sense to focus on the most interesting, creative and innovative areas. It goes without saying that if there are commercial sensitivities in some of these areas then discretion must be practised to keep secrets secret.

Fourth, agree a content strategy with your faces of the organisation. They should understand the Rule of Thirds to ensure they balance their content production with what the target customer persona expects and wants to hear. The content strategy can include creation (fresh new content, not seen before), curation (republishing and retweeting of third party content that will be of interest to the target customer persona), documentation (where they give day to day detail about a project or process that will provide a deep insight into the organisation and its key personnel) and story-telling (for the more experienced faces of the organisation, where they expand their creative copywriting skills and tell longer, more detailed stories to build increased engagement and interaction).

Fifth, ensure your people are trained and allowed to practice and explore the various types of content publishing so that they settle into a natural and comfortable mix of tools. Their choices, and again matched with the needs and wishes of the target customer persona, may include written word, spoken word, images and video. These types of content are all applicable to creation, curation, documentation and story-telling.

Over time the invaluable digital assets that your people will be creating, can also be turned into documents, brochures, new recruit induction programmes, training modules… the list is endless.

So the next time you look for some differentiation in your marketing communications, start with the People around you.. they will have the answers, even if they don’t know it at the outset.

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