4 Critical Factors to Getting Started on Your Content Marketing Strategy
Modern consumer research shows us that stories are important to consumers. Ninety percent of consumers prefer custom content from brands, and 78 percent of consumers believe that brands with custom content are interested in building good relationships with their audience. (Custom Content Council) You can’t afford not to be one of those brands.
To find your starting point, let’s look at the four most important aspects of your brand when it comes to communicating its story:
BRAND MISSION STATEMENT
Your brand story should ultimately be an ongoing extension of your organization’s mission statement. Does your company have an existing mission statement? Perhaps it needs some updating. What values does your brand strive to embody? Build from those values. Let them be your compass; everything you release online or in print should be aligned with them.
A good rule of thumb: if you’re ever stuck in your creative or content development efforts, the solution usually lies in or around your mission statement. To help gain some perspective on what that might mean in the real world, look at Google’s mission statement:
“Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Does Google support that mission whenever they release content into the world? Do they tell a story aligned with the mission? Well, they’ve mastered one technique of doing it: the Google Doodle. Every day, on Google’s search engine page, a new HTML5 animation (often interactive) appears above the search field. The animations are always relevant to current national or international events — the Olympics right now — or they honor some person or event in history. And the Doodle almost always spells out the word “Google.” They have established a pattern of teaching the world about important things happening every single day, while also driving traffic to their flagship site. And now millions of people go to Google looking forward to what shows up in the Doodle for that day.
DEFINED, MEASURABLE GOALS
The bottom line of a business is to increase profit, so we will treat that as the end goal. Along the way, there must be smaller goals broken down into certain areas — and these areas vary between businesses. Some are pursuing website clicks, social media likes, reader engagement, in-store visits or online orders. Your goals are pertinent to your brand story strategy.
If you are a bakery whose audience is localized, for instance, airing a series of “How-To” baking videos might not translate into a single extra person coming through your bakery doors, even if the videos went internationally viral. On the other hand, a single, well-produced video ad with an effective invitation to order online and schedule your in-store pickup — that certainly helps bridge the gap between “viewer” and “customer” a lot better.
Or, let’s take the example of a B2B auto parts manufacturer. Most of their business outreach is probably done through sales associates since selling auto parts to stores requires contract negotiations, rather than individual retail sales. An online video ad might help, but wouldn’t do much to directly sell parts. For this company, it is much more important to their sales people for the company to have a strong, professional, thought-leading online presence. So instead, they decide to create a YouTube channel for quick tutorial videos showing how to install their parts, along with some DIY maintenance and repair tips. Their potential clients see their popular YouTube channel and are impressed with the level of engagement the company has with the automotive community, making them more likely to agree to a contract.
EXISTING VISUAL ASSETS + STYLE GUIDE
A popular principle I learned as an English writing major: Show, don’t tell. It has become an equally important principle in my career as a creative content director. All it means is that imagery is preferable to exposition. Being inside a scene as if the reader is watching it happen in front of them makes for a much more powerful story than over-explaining yourself. Similarly, in marketing: wherever possible, use a video or graphic instead of plain text.
Now, maybe your company has a collection of video clips, stock photos, icons, logo designs, color schemes, technical illustrations, photos of your facilities and personnel, or a visual style guide. If they’re “somewhere,” now might be a good time to start collecting them. If you don’t have a lot, don’t worry — quantity isn’t what we’re after right now. If you don’t have anything at all, don’t distress! You’ve got to start somewhere.
YOUR CONTRIBUTING PERSONNEL
Every business is accountable for time spent on each project — whether it’s external, profitable client work or internal work invested in marketing efforts. Neglecting that balance can have severely negative consequences.
Think about what storytelling looks like in your industry. Go search the web and find some examples from competitors. Think about not only what it would take but who it would take to effectively tell your brand story.
Give some thought to which members of your current team would be contributing to developing your organization’s story content. Also begin to consider how their contributions to the brand story would fit into their current workflow (i.e., How many hours per week should this employee put towards executing your brand story strategy?).