March of the Penguins: 3 Rituals to Enrich Your Client Relationships

Emperor penguins are extraordinary animals.

For starters, they return to the same stretch of frozen water every winter to mate and give life to the next generation of penguins.

In between finding a mate and nudging their chick onto the ice for the first time, they endure brutal weather elements (up to -60°C / -76°F), lose up to a quarter of their body weight when laying an egg and take turns traveling tens of miles back to sea to eat, restore their energy and provide food for their hatchlings.

Every March and April, emperor penguins make their way to Atka Bay, Antarctica.

This blew me away, knowing hardly anything about emperor penguins and their synchronized breeding habits before watching David Attenborough’s new show, Dynasties.

If Attenborough’s voice isn’t reason enough to watch the show, the concept certainly is: each episode follows a different animals’ fight for survival, beginning with the chimpanzee and ending with the tiger.

Episode two is dedicated to the emperor penguin.

While watching the penguins embark on their journey to Atka Bay in Antarctica and nine months later, seeing the new generation of penguins set out for the sea, three rituals stood out to me as a way to build bonds with your readers and grow meaningful relationships with your clients.

Here’s how the march of the penguins can benefit your business:

1. Find (and know) your match

Once the penguins make it to the nesting grounds, males begin courting the females and eventually pair off as mates for the rest of the season.

They create a bond that lasts for nine months, sometimes longer. A bond that gives birth to, protects and feeds a newborn penguin.

two emperor penguins
Emperor penguins bond with one mate each winter.

Think of their strong partnership as a symbol for the relationships you would like to build online.

You won’t be raising a chick with your readers, but you do wish to have a great rapport with them.

The first step to establishing that connection is to come up with a clear picture of your ideal reader. Ask yourself:

  • What do they do for a living?
  • What are they passionate about?
  • What do they desire? What do they fear?

Once you have this person in mind (giving them a name helps!), you can more easily come up with content solutions that they are looking for. Because you know what stage of life they’re in, what they’re pain points are and how your service can help them overcome these obstacles.

If you are just starting your business and not sure what your ideal reader looks like, make one up. Come up with someone who would realistically be interested in your product and adapt him or her as your business takes shape.

Knowing exactly who you are speaking to makes creating content and forming a solid bond with your readers easier.

2. Show them you care

Antarctic seabirds not only bond as mates, but as friends and fellow parents.

When the female penguins return to the sea after laying their eggs, for instance, the males become sole protectors of the egg. That means keeping the egg warm under its belly and protecting it from blistering winds for weeks on end.

hatchling
A hatchling keeping warm under its parent’s brood pouch.

To shield each other and their eggs from severe elements, male penguins huddle together, trading places inside and outside the group to survive.

As soon as the females come back with food, the chicks are carefully placed under mum’s belly so the males are free to fish.

Just as penguins meet every task with care and attentiveness so too should content creators.

Plan out how you can help your reader (from ritual #1) warm up to your business. Think about how you can gradually gain their trust.

Some ways to do this are by:

  • Sharing your story and why your organization exists
  • Describing what your product/service does and how it benefits them
  • Bringing customer feedback to life with testimonials
  • Providing useful, practical advice in an entertaining and memorable way
  • Speaking from the heart

Nurturing this bond with your readers is essential. And oftentimes, being generous with your content’s value leads to more worthwhile relationships.

3. Give them something they can use

Before the chicks can leave their parents’ close watch, they must learn how to walk.

A forceful nudge usually does the trick, sending the chick onto the ice for the first time. It might feel like tough love, but as mum knows best, it’s time for the penguin to make their own way to the sea.

emperor penguins
A hatchling getting the hang of this ice thing.

While you won’t be teaching your readers to walk (unless your target audience is toddlers of course), your content should aim to offer them something useful.

This could be in the form of a video tutorial, a benefit-driven listicle, webinar or e-book. There are countless ways to provide value to your prospects and customers, so understanding how your audience consumes and responds to different types of content will help define your content strategy.

If your readers are mostly millennials, perhaps a Facebook live will resonate more with your audience than blog posts.

The great thing about content is that you can always put it out there, gauge interest and do more of what works.

To get your creativity going, here are three ideas that keep your reader top of mind.

Like the nine-month journey of raising a new emperor penguin, quality content takes time and commitment. When you’re able to look in front of and behind you and see the community you created through meaningful content, you’ll be sliding belly-down on ice towards success.

Notting Hill Carnival

How to Immerse Readers in Your Content

When we arrived at the Music Box Village, people had already taken their seats.

The film hadn’t started yet but it was plain to see that the show had already begun. We were the actors and actresses, lovers and mistresses, dancers and revellers, dressed as Voodoo maidens and Rio Casanovas.

Coinciding with Valentine’s Day, the night was a tribute to the tragic love story of Eurydice and Orfeu. We were invited not only to celebrate their romance but to take part in their fabled fairy-tale.

View from above at the Music Box Village.

Besides showing up in costume, the evening didn’t come with any instructions. So while the movie screens were still blank, my friend and I made our way up to an improvised treehouse.

There were lots of huts and hidden alcoves around the open-air venue and if you looked close enough, you could see instruments attached to doorframes, windows, walls and ledges. Little did we know, they would be ours to play at the end of the night.

So how did the Music Box Village turn a group of festive spectators into performing musicians? By following the three golden rules for immersing readers in your content:

1. Invite Them In

Although my friend or I had never been to this venue, the invitation told us exactly where the party was located.

The only other explicit details were to dress up. Which helped because once we saw people in costume, we knew we were in the right place.

The Casa Samba group wore elaborate costumes.

Try and do the same for your online community and give your content a way to stand out.

If people can’t find your tech video review, instructional webinar or latest podcast, then how can they watch or listen to it, much less immerse themselves in it?

That’s why the most important thing to consider when publishing your piece of content is, how will my readers and prospects find it?

Come up with a plan for sharing your content, whether that’s on social media, your own site, someone else’s blog or via a newsletter. And think about how you can use a combination of these, such as sending out an e-newsletter and posting it to Instagram.

It’s also a good idea to give your readers just a taste of the content like you are letting them in on a secret. That way they have to click through to your website or landing page to experience the piece in full.

Then they are more likely to explore other pieces of content and potentially sign up for one of your services (the ultimate goal!).

2. Show Don’t Tell

From the moment we entered the experimental village, our senses were filled with colorful costumes, Brazilian music, samba dancers, Capoeira performers and more.

This perfectly set the scene so when the movie, Black Orpheus, began you felt like you were being transported to Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro.

Carnaval with a Voodoo twist.

Although the Music Box Village could play to our senses a bit more easily, you should always consider different ways to engage your audience.

Catch their attention with compelling imagery and headlines. If it’s a travel narrative or lifestyle feature, describe what you saw, how you felt, who you talked to as clearly as you can.

The more you can bring your content to life (include photos, embed a video, link to your products or services) the better you can capture and hold their attention.

3. Hand Over The Reins

After the Casa Samba performers finished their group dance, the Brazilian beat drummers opened up the circle. It was our turn to join in.

They pointed us to the dance floor with their drumsticks and soon enough people were making their own music all around the village.

That’s the same response you should be going for with your content. Keep them entertained throughout the piece and seamlessly guide them to the next step.

Whether that is asking them to leave a comment, share it on their social media, sign up to your newsletter or purchase one of your services, make sure your viewers and readers know what to do next.

Remember, signposting your content with relevant links and tagging posts by category will not only help your audience learn more about your business and area of expertise, but it will also improve your company’s search ranking.

As you can see, being able to immerse readers in your content is a powerful achievement. One that the Music Box Village has so masterfully demonstrated.

If you’d like help creating this type of experience for your readers, I would love to hear from you at celeste@cbacontent.com or through this contact form.

Royal Wedding Crowd

The Royal Wedding’s Guide to Bonding With Your Readers

“She looked back at us!”

“We totally made eye contact!”

That’s pretty much how it went (times 100) after Meghan Markle and Prince Harry rode past my friend and me during their wedding procession around Windsor.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry riding down the Long Walk in Windsor. Photo by Sydney Bailey.

We felt a real connection with Meghan, especially after seeing the personal and modern touches she put on the royal affair and feeling her American influence on the ceremony.

It’s the sort of bond your business should strive to create with your community, whether that means someone unfamiliar with your brand or a knowledgeable customer.

You can create this special rapport using what some people call “affinity” or “tribe-building” content.

This type of writing, packaged as a blog post, social media update or newsletter, can be achieved through a number of techniques, which Meghan so gracefully demonstrated on her big day.

Duchess of Sussex, take it away.

lead with your beliefs

There were little things Meghan intentionally did on her wedding day because she believed they should be done that way. She walked down most of the aisle unescorted, something no other royal bride has done.  It was also the first time a British royal wedding had an American preacher deliver a sermon.

While these weren’t the only significant wedding decisions Meghan and Harry made, each of them sent a modern, more inclusive message to the world.

Meghan stayed true to her roots on her wedding day and the same should be the case when you create affinity content.

Since you want to attract people who share the same beliefs as you, it’s important to let your audience know what your company is passionate about. There is no point in trying to be all things to all people either because your business should stand for one particular person, not everyone.

By leading with your beliefs — those relevant to your brand — your message will narrow in on your target audience, attract like-minded people and lay the groundwork for a meaningful bond.

Speak from your heart

As cheesy as this sounds, I could feel the love emanating from Meghan and Harry. You could hear it in their vows and see it in their first kiss.

Without getting sappier, the royal couple was the epitome of two people who fell in love and came together in holy matrimony.

These are the vibes that you want your tribe-building content to give off.

Be passionate and play to the emotions of your audience. Your message should draw out a feeling from your reader — the same feeling you have towards a problem or desire.

Once they realize they share that feeling with you, they begin to relate to your company on a more personal level.

In your approach, it is OK to be upfront and candid with your reader, but also remember not to overdo it. Over-the-top statements or exaggerations can come off as phony and backfire with your audience.

be true to yourself

This last ingredient brings out the best in your community bonding skills.

From the outward displays of Meghan’s American background to the inward love she felt for Harry, it was Meghan’s authenticity that shone through every step of the day and captured people’s hearts around the world.

There are many reasons people feel a connection to Meghan. Maybe because she’s American or a women’s rights advocate or was an actress on Suits.

And there are also reasons why people are just beginning to be charmed by her. Because she is something  — American, biracial, feminist, etc. — and symbolizes ideals — the American dream, the power of love, a fairytale life — that people hold onto and want to be a part of.

Meghan is human, just like you and me. We can relate to her, which is huge considering that’s not always an inherent trait in the royal family.

That’s the key — to genuinely relate to your prospects and customers. Because being open, leading with your beliefs and speaking from your heart is how others will begin to trust you, like you and have a rapport with you.

Now, keep calm and bond on!

Horses

Two Windsor Greys make way for Meghan and Harry’s carriage.

woman jumping

3 Compelling Content Ideas to Win Over Your Audience’s Heart

The last bite of seafood pasta had been twirled onto my fork and finished off.

None of us wanted to leave this restaurant, its beachy, open-air construction built right into the cliff.

To remember it, we took a photo with the very friendly staff before saying ciao and grazie. It was a 30-minute walk back to the ferry, but just as we were leaving, our waiter said, “No, no, why don’t you take our boat back to the main beach? It’s a three-minute ride and free for people who eat at the restaurant!”

My friends and I quickly exchanged glances, all thinking the same thing: No way! They are SO nice here, this is the best restaurant in Capri!

And just like that, they won our hearts over. Their free shuttle saved us time and energy, which after walking everywhere on our trip, was very much appreciated.

restaurant photo

My friends and I with the wonderful restaurant staff!

For them, it was a small gesture to show how much our business meant to them, and for us, it made us feel like queens of Capri.

The restaurant’s complimentary boat ride is also a great example of how your website should interact with your own prospects and customers.

You want to leave a positive, lasting impression on your visitors and one way to do that is to give them something for free that will help them, or their wallets, out.

Here are three ideas for giving your website that little something extra. Because little things can go a long way and have a powerful impact on your audience.

1. A downloadable freebie

Don’t you love when you go to a website and they give you something that you can actually download, print off and use? It feels like you’ve been let in on a secret and since it’s free, you think you’ve hit a mini jackpot.

And it’s not just your audience who is gaining something. A lot of the time, these freebies are given in exchange for an email address, so if someone does download your cheat sheet, recipe or city guide, you will have a way to communicate with them in the future. To offer them similar solutions.

Think about what makes sense to offer from your brand’s perspective and create something they will enjoy and get good use out of. For instance, you could give them:

  • A  template or checklist for doing X (editing your own photos, writing a novel, etc.)
  • A calendar of events that pertain to your company’s industry
  • An e-book or professionally-designed document that compiles helpful information on one topic into a downloadable PDF

2. one-time purchase offer

You’ve probably seen this on e-commerce sites before, but another way to entice your customer to buy your product is to offer them a discount.

Depending on how and when you would like to offer this on your site, it could come in the form of a “new member discount”, a percentage off their purchase for a limited time or free shipping.

This can also be a win-win for you because if visitors have to sign up for your newsletter in order to receive the discount, then you will have their email address and access to their inbox. If this is the case, consider mentioning the discount next to the newsletter signup button on your site. More on how to successfully do that here.

3. expert knowledge or advice (with no price tag)

Using different mediums and channels, you can get really creative with this one.

There are many ways you can share valuable information with your audience, but some of the most popular and engaging solutions include:

  • Podcasts
  • Video
  • Blogs
  • Live-streaming (i.e. Facebook Live, live stories on Instagram, etc.)

The cool thing about podcasts is that they attract people who genuinely want to hear more from you and your brand. They actively choose to listen to your show because they are interested in your specialized topic.

Separately, I watched a video recently where vlogger Thomas Kuegler said one of his followers got to know him way better after watching one or two of his videos than she did after reading his articles for a year.

That’s a pretty big impression and a reminder of the kind of impact video or live-streaming can have on your community.

Finally, if you still aren’t convinced that blogs are good for business, think again. There are many benefits of blogging, from increasing traffic to building your authority and trust with readers.

Sure, blogging or discounting your product may not be as glamorous as a free boat ride across the Isle of Capri, but it will have you feeling like a million bucks when customers start raving about your company.

blue butterfly

The Simple Art of Differentiating Yourself (and Attracting an Audience)

One of the first things you see when you exit the train station in Bath, Somerset, is an iconic British telephone booth filled with flowers.

I’ve seen lots of red telephone booths, some lined with books inside, others vandalized and wreaking of urine, but never filled with purple primroses and intertwining ivy.

I took a photo of it thinking it’d be the only one in town.

Luckily, there was another one just around the corner.

Turns out, this is a trademark of Bath’s. Or another way of putting it — it is their unique selling proposition (USP). They reimagined an antiquated communication system and turned it into something you might encounter in a Lewis Carroll book.

It catches your eye and makes you think, why doesn’t London do that?

But that’s exactly what adds to Bath’s unique appeal. The city is smaller, quainter and has special touches like flower-filled phone booths.

Like Bath, your business needs to have a reason why people decide to visit your website or storefront.

What do you do differently and better than your competitors? It is this distinction, your USP, that will attract the right people to your brand.

Here’s how differentiating yourself and promoting your USP can be the simplest way to grow your audience and increases sales.

YOUR USP sets you apart

Roughly 2.6 million blog posts have been published so far today.

That’s a whole lot of content options for your audience to choose from.

Why would they visit your blog then and spend time on your site?

Because they value whatever makes your product or service different — a love of all things handmade, an eco-friendly approach or a long history of exceptional performance.

Your brand personality, motto or experience jumps out at them because it is relevant and/or appeals to them.

YOUR USP zooms in on your audience

A direct (and positive!) result of setting yourself apart is a clearer picture of who you are trying to reach.

Whether you share a belief with your audience or have a similar personality or way of doing something, that likeness is what groups you and your community together.

This likeness, originating from your USP, is baked into everything you do, and gradually attracts the right people to your brand.

So rather than casting a wide net in hopes of attracting a bigger audience, concentrate on your distinguishing trait and focus on drawing in those who you have something in common with. This will make it much easier for your target audience to recognize you and become a valuable part of your community.

YOUR USP naturally generates engaging content

Once you decide what your special X factor is, put it at the center of everything you do.

That way you have a guiding light, so to speak, that makes it obvious which direction your blog posts, newsletters and company’s content should take.

If achieving a meditative mindset is at the core of your yoga clothing line, then your content should revolve around a mindful lifestyle. You could write a blog about morning routines for a productive day. Or shoot a video of your favorite meditative poses. Or team up with a healthy food store and host a yoga event.

The possibilities are endless when you clearly define what makes you different. 

Whatever your X factor may be, it is essential in catching your audience’s attention. It not only provides a meaningful connection to your community, but it also makes it much easier to create compelling content.

Think of the flower-filled telephone booth and capture your customer’s imagination with your USP.