It’s not as easy to stand out in the world of content marketing as it used to be. What goes viral and why sometimes baffles even the experts and well-known brands. Nevertheless, gaining exposure for your business through creative content remains essential to raise the bar for audience engagement and sales.
Every business needs to stay relevant in the minds of the public, and good content is an effective way to do that. Yet creating assets that attract, delight and convert can be tricky. Sometimes you don’t know what works unless you try something and keep tweaking it until you get it right. Fortunately, you can shorten your 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 creating anything, you need a reliable roadmap or strategy. Otherwise, anything that puts your brand out there is like throwing spaghetti against a wall. A few things may stick. But people will struggle to figure out who your brand is and why they should care.
Rather than using an ad hoc approach, you want to develop a content strategy that outlines a number of key items. These include who you’re targeting, why this audience is ideal, and what you hope to achieve by reaching them. By identifying strategic building blocks, you can develop a consistent yet unique brand voice. A solid strategy also includes an editorial calendar. That calendar should map out the content you’ll be creating, the publishing frequency, and the posting dates.
Another critical component to include is key performance indicators for individual 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 can be e-commerce sales. By defining each asset’s KPI, you can measure whether it works or needs to be refined and reused.
2. Create content about the audience
People who only talk about themselves usually have trouble maintaining conversations and building relationships. While it’s normal 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 the audience. It can even turn them off or damage their trust in your brand.
Survey research shows that consumers rely on the trust factor when making purchases. More than 80% consider whether they can trust a brand when deciding which products and services to buy. Yet only 34% of consumers trust the brands they use. Companies that sugarcoat information, are less helpful, or don’t listen to public feedback don’t build trust.
So avoid self-righteous content and instead focus on content assets that create credibility. Content that is about your target audience shows that your company wants to invest in a solid relationship. You are there to help, inform or resolve their issues in ethical and non-intrusive ways. It’s not just about what your company can get, but also what it can give.
3. Diversify your creative resources
It’s tempting to keep replicating content once you find a format that works. For example, you have a blog post that performs extremely well. Or you host a week-long webinar that brings in more leads than you’ve seen at in-person events.
Based on these short-term results, you start publishing more blog posts or hosting additional webinars. Your content team focuses the lion’s share of its efforts on one type of asset, hoping that initial success will continue. 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.
The audience changes and tends to be diverse, especially when it comes to mass-market brands. Even if your company’s offerings are more niche, there are likely several segments in your overall market. By creating and experimenting with multiple formats, including video and live streams, you can engage more of your audience. Diversifying your creative resources also allows you to communicate your brand’s voice and story through employees, customers and case studies.
4. Get involved via social media
Pew Research studies show that about seven in 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 public. Another factor is that companies can create or share multiple types of content.
A blog post can contain pieces of information that your target market finds useful. Still, blogs are mostly static or one-way conversations. Turning that blog post into a social media post 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 augments a company’s thought leadership.
Social posts, live streams and interactions with audience members showcase the personality behind a brand. You are not just a legal entity, a store or a website. Connecting with people through social media shows that a company is willing to be part of a community. It’s an opportunity to reveal what goes on behind the scenes and put the human faces of a company in the foreground. Substitutes for products and services are always there, but it’s personalities and people that make brands stand out.
Producing content that cuts through the noise
Creating content that grabs attention and differentiates your brand from your competitors 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 meets business and market goals while also addressing what motivates and inspires audiences. To differentiate your brand, humanize your content by making it about the people it wants to serve.