Standing out in the content marketing world isn’t as easy as it once was. What goes viral and why sometimes mystifies even experts and household names. Nevertheless, it is still important to gain exposure for your business through creative content to raise the level of audience engagement and sales.
Every company needs to stay relevant in the minds of their audience, and good content is an effective way to do that. Yet creating assets that attract, delight and convert can be difficult. Sometimes you don’t know what will work unless you try something and keep tweaking it until you get it right. Fortunately, you can shorten the learning curve by discovering methods that tend to get results. Let’s look at four tips for using creative content to differentiate your brand.
1. Map out a game plan
Before you start creating anything, you need a reliable roadmap or a reliable strategy. Otherwise, whatever your brand puts out will be like throwing spaghetti at a wall. A few things can stick. But people will have trouble figuring out who your brand is and why they should care.
Instead of using an ad hoc approach, you should develop a content strategy that outlines several key elements. These include who you are targeting, why this audience is ideal and what you hope to achieve by reaching them. Identifying strategic building blocks will help you create a consistent yet unique brand voice. A thorough strategy also includes an editorial calendar. That calendar should map out the content you will create, publication frequency and publication dates.
Another important part to include is key performance indicators for separate assets. Some content, such as a white paper, may be there to create awareness and generate leads. Your KPI for this piece could be the number of contact forms your audience submits. However, the goal of an online video ad may be e-commerce sales. By defining each asset’s KPI, you can measure whether it is working or needs refinement and reuse.
2. Create content about the audience
People who only talk about themselves usually have trouble maintaining conversations and building relationships. While it’s natural to want to talk about your perspectives and experiences, successful relationships involve give and take. Content that only speaks from a company’s point of view will not resonate with audiences. It can even turn them off or damage their trust in your brand.
Research shows that consumers rely on the trust factor when making purchases. Over 80% consider whether they can trust a brand when deciding which products and services to buy. Yet only 34% of consumers have faith in the brands they use. Companies that embellish information, are less than forthcoming or don’t listen to feedback from the public will not build trust.
So avoid self-serving content and focus instead on content assets that build credibility. Content that is about your audience shows that your company wants to invest in a solid relationship. You are there to help, inform or solve their problems in ethical and non-intrusive ways. It’s not just about what your company can get, but what it can give.
3. Diversify your creative assets
It’s tempting to keep replicating content once you find a format that works. For example, you can have a blog post that gives extremely good results. Or you host a one-week webinar that brings in more leads than you’ve seen from in-person events.
You start creating more blog posts or hosting more webinars based on these short-term results. Your content team focuses the lion’s share of their efforts on a single type of asset, hoping for that initial success. However, unique circumstances may have made a piece of content a hit. Past performance is not always a reliable indicator of future performance when it comes to digital assets.
Audiences change and are usually diverse, especially when it comes to mass market brands. Although the company’s offerings are more niche, there are likely distinct segments of the overall market. Creating and experimenting with multiple formats, including video and live streams, will help you speak to more of your audience. By diversifying your creative assets, you can also communicate your brand’s voice and story through employees, customers and case studies.
4. Get involved through social media
Pew Research studies show that approximately seven out of ten American adults use social media. While the sites they visit may vary by age group and other demographics, social media can become a differentiator for brands. One reason is that social platforms enable real-time interaction with the audience. Another factor is that companies can create or share more types of content.
A blog post can contain nuggets of information that your target audience will find useful. Yet blogs are usually static or one-way conversations. Turning that blog post into a social media outlet creates a real dialogue between your brand and your audience. Whether the post sparks an in-depth discussion or a series of questions, social media expands a company’s thought leadership.
Social posts, live streams and interactions with audience members demonstrate the personality behind a brand. You are not just a business, a shop or a website. Engaging with people through social media shows that a company is willing to be part of a community. It is an opportunity to reveal what goes on behind the scenes and bring the human faces of a company to the fore. Substitutes for products and services always exist, but personalities and people are what make brands stand out.
Producing content that cuts through the noise
Creating content that grabs attention and sets your brand apart from the competition starts with a good strategy. You can’t define a unique voice if you don’t know who your audience is and what they need or want to hear. Content that rises to the top addresses business and marketing goals while speaking to what motivates and inspires audiences. To differentiate your brand, humanize your content by making it about the people it wants to serve.