No matter what your business is—and who your target audience is—you need content. Your content is how you continue to educate and engage buyers. How do they know what your business is all about, unless they can read your website, study your blogs, watch your videos, and engage with you on social media? Maybe you’ve gotten to this point with your business and haven’t really considered the importance of your content and its role in your overall marketing strategy. After all, you made it this far, right? Well, whether you’re just now discovering the importance of a marketing strategy or you’ve had one in place for years, it’s never a bad idea to learn new and better ways to reach your audience. Before you can get started, it’s important to really understand what a content marketing strategy is, because it’s so much more than just starting a blog.
Content Strategy: DefinedFirst, let’s define content. Many businesses have spent far too long considering their blog their “content.” In reality, your content is every piece of media that you create for your business—from your website pages to your blog, from your social media posts to your newsletters, and even direct mail pieces. It also includes your images, videos, infographics, press releases, articles in professional publications, podcasts, radio spots, commercials… Whew! That’s a lot of content you may not be considering. Now that we know what your content is, let’s talk about a strategy. Your strategy is when you create content with a well-planned purpose in mind in order to attain a particular goal. Your strategy could cover the course of a single day, a month, or an entire year. Now, how do we go about creating a content marketing strategy?
Creating a Content StrategyThere are several questions you need to answer. With those answers you’ll have the first steps of your content strategy created. Let’s focus on the easy stuff first:
Who Is My Target Audience?Do you know your buyer personas inside and out? Without a full understanding of who you’re trying to reach, you won’t know how to reach them.
What Problem Am I Solving?Knowing your buyers means knowing their pain points. Your content should be created with the sole purpose of solving those pain points.
How Am I Unique?Your Unique Selling Proposition is what sets you apart from your competitors. Your content is how you convey that USP to your buyers.
Where Will I Post?Now that you know your buyers, their pain points, and how you plan to stand out from the crowd, it’s time to start reaching them. Do you know where your buyers live online? Start finding out if they’re Facebookers or LinkedIn fans. Do they use Twitter? Would they prefer to get information from Snapchat or Instagram?
What Will I Post?The type of content you post can vary according to your platform. Short and snappy for Twitter, with images designed to stop someone in their tracks and click through to your site. Facebook likes to see longer posts and, in particular, video. On your own website, you can mix things up between blogs, lists, videos, and infographics to keep things lively.
How Will I Manage This?You have a lot on your plate now, so it’s important to determine how you can manage the content for the best results. Scheduling tools help, but it’s important to always have an eye on your content so you can see opportunities for engagement.
The Unanswered Question: Do I Need a Content StrategyThe simplest answer to this question is yes. Your buyers deserve to have access to all the information they can get their hands on before they make purchasing decisions. The only way that can happen is if you have a defined content strategy that focuses on providing that information any time a buyer needs it. Are you ready to create your content strategy? We’re always here to help, so just give us a call.
Storytelling is one of the biggest marketing words of the year, just behind influencer in popularity. It’s important to craft stories that reach your buyers, and every story needs a hero. Who do you think that hero is? Is it your brand, swooping in to save the day and solve all of their pain points? There’s certainly an argument to be made for the “brand as hero” mindset. The case is even stronger for those companies with a noble edge, such as TOMS Shoes, Warby Parker, or Patagonia. These brands appeal to buyers with their promise to give back, either in a one-for-one model that provides necessities to the less fortunate, or in Patagonia’s case, with contributions to protect the environment. If you think of your brand as the hero in your brand story, then you’re not alone. But ask yourself: Who actually makes the journey?
Considering the Buyer’s JourneyIf you answered the question above with “The buyer!” then you’re already starting to get it. Every buyer goes through a certain process before making the decision to purchase. Some have a longer journey than others, but they all go through the same stages.
Brand’s Role in the Brand StoryEvery hero has a mentor, right? Luke Skywalker’s Yoda, Harry Potter’s Dumbledore, Bilbo and Frodo Baggins’s Gandalf…even Scout’s Atticus Finch, if you prefer to step away from the fantasy genre for a moment. What do these mentors all have in common? The mentor in these stories educates the hero. Your brand should provide the answers your buyers need to make their decisions, from the very first step of the journey until well after the decision has been made. Now that you’re aware of the buyer’s role as the hero and your brand’s role as the mentor, let’s consider the buyer’s journey again. How can your brand help them on their epic quest to solve their pain points?
Benefits of Reversing the RolesWhen the buyer can see themselves as the hero in your brand story, you make an instant connection. Your job is to show them that you care more about their needs than you do about your own sales. You provide them with the content needed to move from the awareness stage to the consideration stage. And as they consider your brand as the answer to their needs, you provide them with the offers they need to make the decision, whether it’s a free trial, a one-time discount, or simply a tutorial. As you continue to mentor them through their journey, they will develop trust that eventually becomes fierce loyalty. Your brand story hero then becomes your brand advocate, and then they might just become the first-most-popular marketing word of the year: an influencer. If you’d like to discuss how we can help you tell your brand’s story, give us a call. We’d love to help you embrace your role as mentor so you can see your hero through to the decision phase of the journey every time.
Your brand credibility is more perilous than you might think. It takes years to craft a solid reputation, and only a split second to destroy it all. With the enormous reach of social media, one gaffe could reach millions of people in minutes. That’s why it’s so important to constantly monitor your reputation and work hard to continuously build brand credibility. These steps are so easy that many tend to set them and forget them. If you’re working now to build your brand’s reputation or clamoring to recover from a PR disaster, start work right away. If you’re coasting along on a great reputation, don’t leave these tasks until it’s too late.
Examine Your BrandYou should always keep your brand in mind, every second of every day. Training for staff should include your brand’s mission, vision, voice, and message. If you’re still not sure what your brand’s purpose is, then you haven’t yet spent enough time building your brand. The message you send to your customers solidifies this brand. If your words, actions, and images don’t fit the brand you’re crafting, then you’ll lose credibility. All it takes is one slip on social media to but your brand in peril. Bigger faux pas, such as the ones plaguing United Airlines in the news lately, could knock you all the way back to the beginning.
Exercise Your VoiceWhen a vocalist doesn’t use her instrument, it gets rusty from disuse. The next time she sings, she may sound different—and that can be confusing to listeners. Always pay attention to your brand voice. Learn what you sound like to your buyers and work hard to maintain that voice. It’s important to constantly analyze your buyer personas, too. Maybe you’re using the wrong voice to reach them. A hip, trendy brand voice might get attention, but it won’t impress your buyers if it doesn’t match the services or products that you offer.
Build a Better BlogBuyers want to learn about your services or products before buying. By creating content that establishes you, the company owner, as a thought leader, you build enormous credibility for your brand. Share tips, tricks, and tutorials. Spread good news about your company with press posts. Dig into deeper thoughts and share your opinions about your industry. Every word will work to boost your brand credibility.
Check Your WebsiteIs your website up to date? An old, clunky, slow website speaks volumes to new visitors. Your brand screams, “We don’t know what we’re doing!” so loudly that nothing you say can drown it out. Make sure your pages load quickly and that the site functions as it should. And, of course, you must be mobile responsive now. Not only will a non-mobile site turn off your buyers, but it also will perform poorly in search engine results.
Pay Attention to ReviewsNow, how will you know that your brand resonates with your buyers? How do you know you’ve built credibility you can count on? By listening to your customers. Read reviews. Take them to heart. Sure, some can be ignored—specifically those left by users hoping to stir controversy. The real reviews, however, should be used to help you build your brand credibility. When reviews are bad, examine the claim, determine where you went wrong, and address the problem immediately. When reviews are good, use the feedback to bolster the credibility you’re building. And remember: these reviews aren’t always a formal affair, left on third-party sites or your own website. Monitor social media to keep an ear tuned to what buyers are saying about you. As you can see, these tasks must be performed over and over and over again. It’s important to always have your brand credibility in mind. If you’re working to build your brand or to recover from an incident that has put your brand in jeopardy, give us a call. Building solid brands is what we do.
Have you ever seen messaging from a well-known brand that made you shake your head in confusion? Maybe one of your favorite companies released a product or service that just didn’t fit the brand you’ve grown to know and love. A departure from your brand mission and vision could happen if you’re not careful, and the result is always confusion among your buyers and fans. In most cases, this departure from the brand is an attempt to grow or to stay relevant during changing times. To avoid these mistakes, you must first know what they are. Let’s take a look at some flubs that could change the way your audience perceives your brand.