Content marketing has become a popular tactic for businesses and entrepreneurs that want to build a following, attract prospective customers, and generate sales. But the massive amount of content produced every day makes it difficult for us to reach our target audiences. And it is getting tougher.
However, there is good news. Having an effective content marketing strategy will give you an advantage over your competitors simply because most of them don’t have one.
How Branding Influences Content Marketing Results
Most small businesses employ random content marketing tactics, hoping to find something that prompts a response from a broad audience. This approach establishes a pattern of communicating disjointed, confusing marketing messages that fail to accomplish their objectives.
To get results, the content you create should align with your brand identity—your business’s values, purpose, and mission. Brand-aligned content will speak specifically to the type of people you want to reach.
While not everyone will be an ideal customer, intentionally creating connections with the right audience will increase the number of leads, sales, and average purchase amount.
This report shows that 67% of consumers want to buy from brands they trust. One of the most effective ways to build this trust is through brand-aligned content marketing. This content is also a powerful way to demonstrate how your product or service is superior to those of your competitors.
Does Your Business Have a Personality?
Creating content that aligns with your brand begins by being clear on your business’s core identity. The branding process allows you to intentionally create a personality for your business—also known as an archetype—that matches your target audience.
If you are not sure what your business’s personality is, start with these questions:
- Why does your business exist? Who does it help? How does it help them?
- What does your business stand for? (Beliefs, core values, etc.)
- If your business were a person, what personality would he or she have?
By answering these questions, your business’s persona will begin to take shape. As this persona emerges, you will then be able to develop a “voice” suitable for it. This voice will ensure that your brand messages—delivered through original content you create—remain consistent.
Consistency is extremely important when it comes to branding and marketing. Research shows that consistent branding increases revenue by as much as 33%.
A Tale of Two Audiences
Most small businesses acquire the majority of their customers through advertising, networking, and referrals. But not everyone is looking for what you are selling the moment they come into contact with you. It may be weeks or months before they need what you offer.
Having a well-planned content marketing strategy will keep your brand fresh in your prospective customers’ minds until they are ready to buy what you are selling.
However, the type of audience you create content for is another important component of a successful strategy. Each individual member of your target audience falls into one of two categories: aware or unaware.
People in the aware category already know they have the problem you can solve. This also means they may be looking for someone to help them. We can use content marketing to show these people we provide the best solution.
This audience category is the easiest to convert into paying customers but there are fewer of them. So, building an adequate pool of prospects from this segment will likely require more effort and resources.
The second audience category are people who are unaware they have the business problem you solve. They are the easiest to find but are the most difficult to connect with because they do not yet know they need your help.
To be successful marketing to this audience category, we must first show them they have a problem. Only after they recognize it can you then present your product or service as the solution.
As you create your content marketing strategy, you must consider the mindset of the audience you are trying to reach. Content developed for people who are already aware of their problem will be much different than content for people who are unaware.
“How-to” content usually works well for people in the aware category because they are actively looking for a solution.
On the other hand, “why” content is best for people who are unaware because it shows them the root cause of the issue first.
Here’s how it works:
- Describe the symptoms of the problem to get their attention.
- Then, diagnose the underlying cause (why they are having it)
- Present your product or service as the cure.
Many small businesses struggle with content marketing because they are not taking the audience’s mindset into consideration when they create content. A well-designed content marketing strategy will help you avoid these costly mistakes.
Focus on the Transformation
Whether your content addresses an audience that is aware or unaware of its problem, it should always present an image of the final result. Before your audience will listen to you, they must know you can provide the end-result they desire.
To illustrate this outcome, you must show them how their lives will be transformed. Present literal or figurative images to give them a mental picture of what life will be like after they have purchased your product or service.
Don’t Pull Any Punches
Many of us are afraid of offending people or doing anything to turn others away. However, if we want to develop a strong connection with our prospective customers, we must stand up for the things in which we believe.
This requires us to be outspoken about some of our thoughts and opinions. This does not mean we should purposely offend or insult anyone just to get attention. But we must share our convictions with the world if we hope to attract the people who are our best customers.
Your target audience has a wealth of information available to them through an endless number of sources. That means that no matter what business you are in, you must leverage your brand if you hope to stand out, grab attention, and get them to listen to what you have to say.
As you develop original content for your target audience, be sure to speak directly to the people you want to attract and in language they can easily understand. The more direct you are, the stronger your connection with them will be.
Take Them by the Hand
Another important step to generating more leads and sales from your content marketing strategy is to provide a path for your customers, known as the customer journey. This path begins at the moment of first contact, to conversion, and continues until they have developed a long-term relationship with your brand.
You must take them by the hand and lead them along this path. Each piece of content you develop should be accompanied by a call-to-action—an invitation to take another step closer to becoming a customer.
For example, if you are creating a piece of content that will introduce people to your brand, a good call-to-action would be an offer to learn more about a specific topic or product. But if the content you are developing is for people who are already familiar with you and what you do, the call-to-action may invite them to schedule a consultation or to get a quote.
To create maximum response, the call-to-action must be appropriate for the piece of content. As an example, if you write a blog post or create a video for an audience that has never heard of your brand before, a call-to-action asking them to book a consultation at the end of the post may be too much to ask. Instead, asking them to sign up for your email list will generate a much higher response rate.
Without calls-to-action, people will read your blog post or view your video and leave without doing anything else. Once they do that, you have probably lost them forever. This single mistake costs many small businesses a lot of potential leads and sales.
Having a well-planned content marketing strategy is an effective way for small businesses to build a following and generate more sales. Remember that all of the content you create should align with your brand. Do not be afraid to show your true colors and stand up for what you believe. People are more likely to gravitate toward brands who make their purpose and mission known.
Make sure you are creating the right content for the right audience and that you are leading them down a path that will encourage them to become a customer. Focus on the transformation your product or service will make in their lives—and be bold!
Until next time,
Learn more about brand strategy.
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