It’s not as easy to stand out in the content marketing world as it once was. What goes viral and why sometimes mystifies even the experts and brands with household names. Nevertheless, gaining exposure for your business through creative content remains vital to raising the bar on audience engagement and sales.
Every company needs to stay relevant in audience members’ minds, and good content is an effective way to do that. Still, creating assets that attract, delight and convert can be tricky. You sometimes don’t know what will work 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 achieve results. Let’s look at four tips for using creative content to set your brand apart.
1. Map Out a Game Plan
Before you start creating anything, you need a dependable road map or strategy. Otherwise, whatever your brand does put out there will be like throwing spaghetti at a wall. A few things might stick. But people will have difficulty figuring out who your brand is and why they should care.
Instead of using an ad hoc approach, you’ll want to develop a content strategy that outlines several important items. These include who you’re targeting, why this audience is ideal and what you hope to accomplish by reaching them. Identifying strategic building blocks will help you carve out a consistent but unique brand voice. A thorough strategy also incorporates an editorial calendar. That calendar should map out the content you’ll create, publishing frequency and posting dates.
Another critical piece to include is key performance indicators for separate assets. Some content, such as a white paper, might be there to create awareness and generate leads. Your KPI for this piece might be the number of contact forms your audience submits. However, the goal of an online video ad might be e-commerce sales. Defining each asset’s KPI allows you to measure whether it’s working or needs refinement and repurposing.
2. Make Content About the Audience
People who only talk about themselves usually have difficulty 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 won’t resonate with audiences. It might even turn them off or damage their trust in your brand.
Survey research shows consumers rely on the trust factor when making purchases. Over 80% consider whether they can trust a brand when deciding what products and services to buy. Yet only 34% of consumers have faith in the brands they use. Businesses that embellish information, are less than forthcoming or don’t listen to audience feedback won’t build trust.
So avoid self-serving content and focus instead on content assets that establish credibility. Content that’s about your audience shows that your company wants to invest in a solid relationship. You’re there to help, inform or solve their problems in ethical and nonintrusive ways. It’s not only about what your business 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 instance, you might have a blog post that performs extremely well. Or you host a webinar one week that brings in more leads than you’ve seen from in-person events.
You start cranking out more blog posts or hosting additional webinars based on these short-term results. Your content team focuses the lion’s share of its efforts on a single type of asset, hoping the initial success carries through. However, unique circumstances might 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. Even if your company’s offerings are more niche, there are probably distinct segments in your overall market. Creating and experimenting with multiple formats, including video and livestreams, helps you speak to more of your audience. Diversifying your creative assets also lets you communicate your brand’s voice and story through employees, customers and case studies.
4. Engage Through Social Media
Pew Research studies show about seven in 10 U.S. adults use social media. While the sites they frequent can 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 audiences. Another factor is that companies can create or share multiple types of content.
A blog post may contain nuggets of information your target market finds helpful. Yet blogs are usually static or one-way conversations. Turning that blog post into a social media one creates a true dialogue between your brand and your audience. Whether the post sparks an in-depth discussion or a series of questions, social media extends a business’s thought leadership.
Social posts, livestreams and interactions with audience members demonstrate the personality behind a brand. You’re not just a corporate entity, a store or a website. Engaging with people through social media shows a company is willing to be part of a community. It’s an opportunity to reveal what goes on behind the scenes and bring a business’s human faces to the forefront. 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 attracts 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 caters to business and market goals while speaking to what motivates and inspires audiences. To set your brand apart, humanize your content by making it about the people it wants to serve.