Content marketing may be the most important trend in digital marketing today. Industry surveys indicate that B2C businesses will spend on average 32% of their total 2016 marketing budgets on content marketing1. Its power as a lead generator is unmatched, and if you’re not doing it—and doing it right—you’re missing a critical piece of your marketing puzzle. Worse, you could be losing business.
Ok, ok, you’ve heard this before, right? The benefits are well documented. Experts will tell you that content marketing:
1) Builds awareness
2) Helps customers find you
3) Establishes you as a thought leader
All those are true, but there’s one major benefit that even experts often overlook, and that is: content is key to creating an irresistible brand.
What is a brand and how is it connected to content marketing?
A brand isn’t just a logo, typeface, and slogan. Your brand is the entire personality of your company. Think of it as the feelings and emotions that are evoked within a customer when they hear your name.
Brands are built slowly, piece by piece with each point of contact between you and your customers. Every ad, email, tweet, and blog post adds to your brand. Over time, good branding creates trust, establishes value, and fosters a sense familiarity.
In 2016, content marketing could be the most important tool for building your brand.
Why is content marketing so critical to creating a brand?
When you view your competitors’ websites, display ads, or marketing emails, do you ever feel they all look very similar? That’s no accident.
Today’s smart web developers and digital marketers know what makes people tick (and click!), and websites are finely tuned to be efficient and effective. The best digital practices are always emulated, borrowed, and replicated. This improves user experience, but as everyone copies the same successful strategies, variety and uniqueness decrease. This leaves many sites looking like they’re cut from the same template, because they are.
If you want to stand out from the crowd, you need a new technique to differentiate. So what’s the best way to differentiate online today? Yep, you guessed it: content marketing.
Content marketing establishes your unique value proposition
More than any other aspect of your online presence, content marketing allows you to communicate your unique value proposition; the aspect of your business that tells customers “this is why you should choose me instead of my competitors”.
Content marketing gives you the time, space, and freedom to engage deeply with customers—something that’s impossible to do in a 728 x 90-pixel banner ad.
Best of all, content marketing brims with real personality because it captures your own voice. Content takes your business beyond a robotic marketing slogan. Sure, the tone of your content should be professional, but when that tone echoes your individuality, you stand out from a noisy field of competitors.
3 simple tips to creating content that makes your brand shine
- Produce content that reinforces your points of difference
Before you write, ask yourself: how do my skills, my experience, my expertise, solve customers’ problems better than my competitors? The answers are your points of difference and combined they form your unique value proposition. Write them on a sticky note and place it next to your monitor.
If your content clearly demonstrates your points of difference, customers will understand exactly why they need to choose your business.
- Think of content as the evidence that supports your marketing claims
Say your company’s slogan is “Manitoba’s Master of Tax Minimization”. That’s a bold statement, but why should customers believe you? In the past, businesses relied on word of mouth and testimonials to substantiate these claims. Today, content marketing is the tool that proves your expertise to millions of skeptical customers before they ever do business with you.
- Be consistent and find your own voice
Decide on a style and vocabulary that reflects you and your business. A casual and accessible tone is effective for some audiences while others expect you to be formal and authoritative. Whichever style you choose, be sure that it carries your personal voice. This will build stronger connections, and ensures that your content feels fresh.
Good brands are not created by telling customers why your business is great, they’re created by demonstrating it. And in today’s competitive digital landscape, content marketing is the most powerful tool for proving your value and building a business that gets noticed in a crowded marketplace.
1 B2C Content Marketing: 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends — North America, Content Marketing Institute. (Published: October 14, 2015).