Is Your Content Helping Your Brand, Or Hurting It?
Your business is your brand, and vice versa. It's the composite of everything your company represents to others. Marketers talk on and on the importance of “branding” because the content of your marketing efforts directly affects your brand. In fact, FrankStrong goes so far as to say that “content marketing is the new branding.”
Content can build your business.
Content marketing is multi-faceted. Because it spans so many different platforms, it requires thought than using traditional advertising media, which are essentially all alike – words and pictures depicting some sales message.
With content, you’re not just selling, you’re (hopefully) providing valuable information that establishes you as an authority in the eyes of your audience. You’re building a bridge of trust with existing and potential customers, by providing more than just something to buy. Frank offers some tips and a great infographic on choosing platforms that make the most sense for you.
Content can also bite you in the backside.
Content has to be thoughtfully produced. Traditional advertising can fail to produce sales, but even when it’s pointless or tacky it’s not likely to overtly harm your business. Poorly executed online content, however, can actually back-fire, destroying years of previous work to build your reputation and your clientele.
And as we all know, once you drive them away, they’re probably gone for good. They’ll tell their friends as well as people they’ve never even met, perhaps thousands of them. The results can be devastating and permanent.
How can content go wrong?
Let’s say you’re running a fine dining restaurant but randomly serve pancakes or sandwiches. Your patrons are going to get confused. They’ll stop coming around because your menu isn’t reliable. It’s not consistent. Your content marketing menu has to be consistent or your brand will suffer.
So how do you make sure your content is actually helping support and build your brand?
Lewis Carroll’s famous feline, the Cheshire Cat, astutely observed that if you don’t care where you’re going any road will do. Today, he might have noted that if you don’t care about maintaining your brand, any content will do. The Cheshire Cat was a strategic thinker. He knew that planning ahead is essential for meaningful results, because it gives you a map to follow. It keeps you on track.
A strategically conceived and consistently executed content plan keeps your marketing on track.
Content marketing offers varied ways to tell your story – your website, blog, social media, etc., although the details and format differ with each platform. But it’s essential to present yourself in a consistent manner that’s also consistent with the brand image you want to project. Every time you confuse your audience with mixed messages about who you are or what you have to offer, you’re pushing them away.
Planning lets you create a content calendar, so you can coordinate your various articles and posts with one another and with other key marketing efforts – seasonal promotions, a new product launch, your annual parking lot sale or your latest series of webinars. Intersperse your calendar-specific content with informative or just-for-fun (but not irrelevant) non-salesy material.
Paying attention to your audience.
The customer-supplier relationship has shifted dramatically and people expect more from you – real personalized customer service, not just lip service, and information to help them learn more about your industry, your business, yourself. If they don’t believe your products or services will help them, they won’t buy from you.
So pay attention to what people are saying. Answer their questions. Ask them what they need, whether that’s “just the facts” or tips and guidance, such as selecting the right product. Listen extra-carefully if someone has a suggestion or negative comment. Above all else you don’t want to appear “above” criticism, and almost every negative has a kernel of truth hidden inside.
Creating content, posting it and checking in regularly to respond take precious time. It’s all-too-easy to blow it off, especially the follow-up. But if you make the time to listen, what you hear will help improve your business and it will help you create content that’s well-targeted and well-received.
Good content has the power to boost your brand, elevate your standing in your field and build trust with shoppers, all of which ultimately strengthen customer loyalty. Marketing can’t get any better than that.
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