An incessant traveller, avid reader and enthusiastic writer, Aarti Sheth Cooper loves captivating stories and has been writing content for a host of interesting brands, publications and organizations. She is also the Founder of The Idea Studio, a content writing agency and customer experience consultancy with a passion for customer-centric solutions. Content and customer are king in today's scenario which is why we wanted to pick Aarti's brain a little.
What is the best way for brands to differentiate themselves and create unique content in order to stand out from the crowd?
Content isn’t one size fits all, it depends on the brand and what sort of strategy the brand requires. My universal rule is that the best content is that which is in tune with the brand's heart and soul. Brands that try to be everything to everyone end up with content that isn’t specific toward their values and target audience and usually get lost in the sea of content that’s being created. For example, if you are an organic baby linen brand, then everything from your packaging to blogs to social media has to support the organic, all-natural, vegan lifestyle.
"Good content is in line with the brand's DNA and it's okay if that doesn't appeal to everyone."
Nowadays with so many brands moving to e-commerce, customer experience might not be easy to manage, how do you suggest going about this?
I think there are two parts to this. Firstly, it's true that the rush to digital is extremely important because this is how everyone is consuming, shopping and spending today. However, you cannot leave out the human touch. Whether it's having a chatbot or customer service helpline (where you can speak to an actual human being), it's this human touch which will help you differetiate yourself. Even if this means responding to Instagram messages quickly or calling back customers who have left you feedback via email; it's essential not to alienate your customers.
The second thing I feel is so useful in today's space is AI. There is so much technology that makes it very easy for the customer to navigate and get to where they want to be. ERP platforms like Zendesk help build dashboards for you to view everything from how long it took someone to purchase a product to their average wait time at your store. E-commerce makes harvesting this goldmine of information so much easier, and this is the data that will help you grow and become better.
How can you create good content on a budget?
I think user-generated content is a hugely underused tool. Look at a brand like Zomato, they created an entire business off user reviews! If you visit GoPro's social media pages, you'll notice that every piece of content is user generated. They don't post anything themselves and yet have created a page which makes you want to travel, do something exciting and shoot it with a GoPro. The diversity of content you can get like this is truly amazing.
What are some content pieces that you've seen that you think really set the standard for what we should aim for?
So one of my all-time favourite campaigns was created by a brand I love - Coca-Cola who turned a homophobic slur on its head. In Brazil, it's common to say “Essa Coca é Fanta” or “That Coke is a Fanta” when describing a homosexual person. So in 2018, Coke launched a limited edition Coke can which was filled with Fanta. This campaign turned an insult into a symbol of pride and joy almost overnight. People started creating their own Fanta in Coke bottles and a movement of sorts was created.
Another great brand is Red Bull. This is an example of a company that goes above and beyond to stick with its brand story. They don't talk about their product ever, all they focus on is adrenaline bursting, out of this world experiences that are what the brand stands for. We all remember the time they sponsored BASE jumper Felix Baumgartner to jump out of a helium balloon in the stratosphere - something no other brand would ever risk doing!
In terms of written content, I love the way Vanity Fair articles really bare the soul of the writer. I think when you tell the truth, you can strike a chord with readers.
How has the way you're working with clients and what they're looking for changed during the pandemic?
I think now is a great time for brands to actually take a moment to evaluate their content strategy and work on areas that need fixing. This is what I've been spending a lot of time on as well with my own clients. Apart from rethinking content strategy, now is also a good time to plan for the future and figure out what you want to look, feel and sound like when all this is over and you can go in all guns blazing.
When it comes to customer experience (CX), I think now is probably going to be the most defining moment when we look back in 10 years.
"I think customers are expecting brands to rise above transactional relationships and form long lasting emotional ones."
CX is going to be defined by factors that cement emotional relationships of which trust is the most important. People are willing to pay more and choose a brand they trust rather than focus on price. People are just looking for certainty in unstable times.
The other important way to ensure success is by becoming a part of the customer’s lifestyle. There is an American health insurance company called John Hancock who would give every new customer a free Apple Watch. The deal was that you got the watch for a USD 25 down payment followed by monthly payments on both the watch and your insurance. However, if you managed to do 10,000 steps a day for a month, that month's Apple Watch instalment would be paid by John Hancock. This just shows that only is my health insurance company ready to invest in my health, but they want to reward me for good health as well!
Before you go...
What are you listening to on repeat?
Anything cool, mainly acoustic.
Who are three of your role models?
Ratan Tata, Audrey Hepburn and Indra Nooyi.
Do you have any superstitions?
I always say a prayer before a client pitch! Even after 13 years of working with some of the leading retailers in the world.
What are your top productivity tips?
- Fuel your body with food that doesn't make your brain sluggish.
- Early to bed, early to rise is a game-changer.
- Quiet time is imperative.
- Being a big wildlife lover myself, I'd say jungle time is imperative.
- Holidays are a must- everyone needs a break.
Three words that describe you?
Passionate, hardworking and traveller