The age of content marketing is here, and it’s here to stay.
With consumers becoming more skeptical towards traditional advertisements and marketing campaigns, the shift towards content marketing in recent years has created a demand for outputs that not only sell the product, but also cater to the customers’ imagination.
While appealing to people’s tastes and incorporating this in your marketing techniques might sound easy enough, content marketing, in itself, can be a bit of a challenge. Creating the right balance between crafting relevant content without being too blatant about selling your brand image requires a technique that some marketers may miss or take for granted.
According to Content Marketing Institute’s 2015 report, 47% of effective content marketers have a specific strategy in place. Employing a solid strategy requires you not only to refine the message and the features behind your brand and product, but also the way you interact with the target audience. Quality, more than the quantity in and of your content plays a major role in attracting and keeping customers’ attentions in a saturated marketplace.
So how can you build your brand and win new business effectively through content marketing? Here are five ways to achieve that goal:
1) Know the Audience
Going with the latest fad isn’t always a bad thing.
If you’re into content marketing, current trends are an essential part of your research. People are almost always going to be self-interested, and offering them something that caters to their benefit means banking on what matters to them. Work with the audience before working on your product. Or rather, work with the audience to create the right brand image.
Narrow down your target audience – are you reaching out to millennials, to students, young professionals, or professionals in a specific field? Once you’ve identified your desired demographic, figure out what they want.
Cited in SEO Hacker, one of Jerod Morris’ memorable quotes on Copyblogger reads: “So think about your audience before your start, but know that you will only know so much. Then listen. LISTEN. And your audience will tell you what works and what they crave more of. If you do this over the long haul, you’ll win.”
Aside from a surface-level analysis of their wants and needs, analyzing other things that are specific to the target group’s preferences can give your image more personality and relevance in their eyes.
2) Craft a Great Story
Who doesn’t love a great story?
The narrative flow and the familiar tropes of heroes and villains have appealed to the human mind since the dawn of time. In a study on the neurochemistry of what makes good stories so attractive, Dr. Paul Zak explains the science behind storytelling. Stories trigger our inner empathy and increase our oxytocin levels, making us mimic the emotion and feel of our favorite stories.
That’s why, according to Zak, “When you want to motivate, persuade, or be remembered, start with a story of human struggle and eventual triumph. It will capture people’s hearts – by first attracting their brains.”
Taking off from that advice, make your brand image more convincing by connecting to your audience with a good story. Start with your company profile and treat it like an origin myth that has a clear beginning, middle, and end – a positive one that will garner positive reactions from people.
Frame yourself as a hero when you’re pitching to others, so that audiences can clearly follow your progression throughout. Craft a great story and attract more people to your brand.
3) Appeal to Emotion
Under the appeal of effective storytelling lies an emotional charm that people also easily connect to.
As we’ve mentioned earlier, the consumers of today are highly wary of traditional advertising techniques, which tend to focus more on product features and uses. That’s because people see this move as something that aims to benefit only the brand and the company, not them, and if there’s anything you need to know about content marketing, it’s that the customer’s preferences are top priority.
To breach this wall of skepticism, you’ll need a different approach. This is an approach that doesn’t register in their mental faculties as deception, but rather as an emotional connection. Taking on the side of the customer by catering to their feelings is one way of addressing their need.
In an interview with Sefton Media, Elite Strategies’ Patrick Coombe relates that the most effective posts online “hit close to home with people, which causes them to become very passionate about the matter at hand, and do something about it! […] That is what the goal of content marketing is. You want people to do something.”
Emotional triggers eventually lead to action, and hopefully, that action is in your favor. Whether it’s a Tweet, a reply, or an actual transaction, focusing on the affective before the logical can reap serious benefits for both your brand and your business.
4) Engage with the Audience
One of the greatest advantages of social media’s rise to popularity and its increasing role in content marketing is the way it allows for greater audience engagement.
In a world where everything is connected through much more than blood or friendship ties, you can greatly influence people’s perception of your brand simply by engaging with them as part of your campaign.
Innovative campaigns have often contained interactive elements in them – whether it’s asking for audience feedback on commercials, or setting up interactive installations that let passersby experience the product firsthand. These instances of audience engagement pique people’s interest in your brand. It’s a way of getting yourself out in the market in a subtle but also unmistakable way.
As Edugeeksclub editor Jesse Hammond explains, “Directly engaging with your target market is a way of saying ‘This is who I am’, ‘I am here’. Creating intimate connections with the audience gives your brand a mouthpiece to present an identity people can identify with.”
Take your campaign to the next level. Avoid staying within the confines of a pen-and-paper campaign. People appreciate interactive and engaging brands that let them immerse themselves in an experience. Make sure that’s what your strategy offers them right off the bat.
5) Define Your Brand Voice
As much as the flair of creativity is a fun and attractive advantage to your campaign, remember not to lose sight of your campaign’s purpose – to build your brand.
In line with this, you need to be able to define a brand voice that stands out over everyone else’s. Despite all the tactics you might be able to pull off to get people’s attention your brand itself won’t be able to make a strong impact if it doesn’t have its own personality.
Word Stream’s Dan Shewan provides two main factors in developing a coherent and visible brand voice in your campaign – tone and style. Both should successfully translate the identity you want to impress on the audience in your content. If you’re having a hard time determining what type of brand voice you should have, draw from your company values as a starting point.
Shewan reiterates: “Some brands’ voices are unique and perfectly embody their core values. This voice can be heard in everything from the shortest tweets to lengthy blog posts.” For example, do you want to project yourself as a kind, loving parent when you’re targeting a young audience (and their parents or guardians), or a fun, casual friend for millennials?
At the same time, defining your brand voice involves keeping it consistent throughout your promotions. Going back to Shewan’s statement, the brand voice should be heard in all forms of content that your company produces. Take note of this in your strategy and keep track of the way you deliver this in each of your campaigns.
In Sum: Quality Over Quantity
With the shift in attention leaning more in favor of the consumer, knowing the audience is a large part of the content marketing strategy.
Acquaint yourself with people’s beliefs, cultures, and preferences. You can use these later on as an advantage when you attempt to establish an emotional connection with them. Storytelling is an effective way of connecting with the audience, since it sets off our empathy towards well-known archetypes and plots. Centering your brand’s narrative on a main plot makes it easier to follow and relate to.
Once you’ve started your initial campaign, don’t forget to keep in touch with your customers. Engage with them through social media and other avenues of communication where you can either secure existing loyalties or call attention towards yourself to create new networks. Be creative and interactive so people can immerse in the experience of your brand.
Finally, make sure your brand voice isn’t lost in all this. Despite the desire to create attractive material, content should always reflect the overall personality of your product or service. Stick close and work with existing company values so you avoid contradicting yourself.
Follow these content marketing tips to boost your sales, get yourself out in the market, and create better rapport with your target audience over all.