It is time to fall in love with Content Marketing.
Why? Well let me explain.
I make a living providing visual branding solutions to small and medium-sized companies. But my industry is experiencing a cosmic shift that’s altering my world in a most profound way.
In fact, the companies and organizations I work with are finally beginning to get a whiff of that new media aroma and inquiries are coming in.
“Craig, so what about social media and blogging?”
“Um… where do I start?”
Oh yes,… content marketing.
Yes, content marketing. And the companies I work with not only like this buzzword that’s been around for years, they are now ready to add it to their own marketing mix.
Marcus Sheridan preaches this stuff like gospel. He is like the Energizer Bunny of content marketing and guess what? I feel his excitement.
This special class of online marketing amps me up. Why? Well, like Marcus, I see limitless possibilities revolving around this soon to be universal practice.
And here’s where my excitement really comes from:
Crafting a company’s brand into something special is not the same as it ever was. No. In fact with this new model it’s easier than ever to incorporate something I love—brand storytelling.
Cultivating and then watching as an organization’s essence sprouts and flourishes excites me.
And telling a deeper, full-toned and more resonant story is now a lot less painless than it used to be.
Yes, tout your expertise, but learn to weave in the essential story that makes your company stand out.
That, my friend, is sticky branding.
And content marketing done right will make your brand stick. In fact, according to Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute, “Today, starting and growing a business has more to do with publishing than at any other moment in history.” And in this post, he lays out four reasons why publishing stories online should be the cornerstone of your marketing efforts.
But here is how your company or organization can make a clean break from the boring old content marketing herd.
1. Start with a strategy that includes more than just blogging.
Part of branding done right is a solid content marketing strategy, but this isn’t limited to blogging. Say you’re a firm that specializes in disaster preparedness and recovery (why not pick the most obscure industry ever, right?).
Write a white paper on “10 steps to prepare your company for the worst.” This pdf could be offered if someone signs up for your list. Then write 10 posts, one for each step. This content could also be repurposed on LinkedIn Pulse or another social network. And while you’re at it, do your best to make it less than boring—that’s where the love comes in. Just make it sing a little, but work on a plan to extend the shelf live of your blog content.
2. Create client-centric stories focused on teaching, not entertaining.
Work to craft unique, meaningful stories centered on your company and your products. This resonates and people want to do business with peeps they know and trust. Take a different angle, but focus on educating and helping your customers.
Brands are becoming their own media companies in a way, so the most creative organizations often move to the fore by thinking and acting like a media company. Same goes for your average business. And to me, this is all about learning to tell engaging stories centered on your expertise, and directed at the right audience—your ideal customer.
You want practical nuts and bolts stuff? Again, I’ll use Mr. Sheridan, but this home improvement content marketing case study on How US Waterproofing is Saturating the Market does a fantastic job of detailing the effectiveness of content marketing done right for any business:
The content these guys are producing in their “Learning Center” shows how any business can simply rock blogging and video.
3. Work to find your company’s content marketing sweet spot.
The more you write the quicker you’ll discover the tone that works for you and your organization. Or, maybe you’ll put your own stars in front of the camera and post to YouTube (see example above). Add a splash of personality to your expert instruction and watch your firm’s essence pop. And work to Embrace the new model of rich-media content.
4. Discover the brand missionaries under your own roof.
I hear the term insourcing bandied about. Embrace it. Make now the time to discover the writers, teachers (and maybe even performers) in your company. Your organization has a certain “flavor” and an individual’s take on this will make it that much more interesting.
Maybe you have an employee who is absolutely crazy in love with a certain topic relevant to your firm. Cut ‘em loose!
What say you?
I help companies build their brands from the ground up, but my process is about way more than cool fonts, great copy or intuitive web design. It’s an integrated approach with a strong content marketing strategy added to the mix, and it should be a part of your marketing plan.
Business owners should strongly consider adding content marketing to the mix. This integrated approach means your business has the opportunity to stand out—and attract those customers you covet—like never before.
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