Content marketing is increasingly being seen as a key brand marketing strategy for companies across the world. As the crude and interruptive advertising methodologies continue to fall out of favour with those wishing to build serious brand cache, learning to craft content that can stand out from the crowd and create influence becomes increasingly important.
In this article I want to look at five pillars of creating influential content marketing.
Make it Memorable
If you are going to create influential content then you have to be able to make it memorable. This means appreciating how and why certain things we experience remain lodged in our memory whilst others quickly fade into obscurity. The short answer to this is that memory is deeply linked to our emotions (your most indelible memories are likely to be your most emotional after all).
Studies have shown that emotionally lead marketing not only drives consumer behaviour at a subconscious level, but that subsequent rational marketing efforts will actually be bolstered by a consumer’s positive initial impression of a company or brand. In other words, create the right positive emotional connection at the awareness stage and you’re half way there.
The TV commercial Aspect produced for Nationwide featuring a lost scarf being reunited with its owner is a perfect example of memorable and emotional storytelling in brand marketing.
Whether it’s happiness, humour, pride, sadness or empathy, generating emotion in your audience will exert far more long term influence that rational appeals alone.
Avoid the Hard Sale
It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of going for the hard sale when producing content. Whilst, it’s true that all marketing is ultimately about sales the journey you take to get your audience to this stage is a lot more circumspect. We’ve already discussed the power of emotions in generating influence amongst potential consumers but it’s all too easy to pop that bubble by pushing your company offering too hard.
The internet generation has become extremely cynical to company’s trying to sell them stuff (the web is bursting at the seams with this) and will quickly switch off if they sense this. Instead, your content should bring something to the table, whether it’s informational value or entertainment value. This reciprocity is at the heart of all inbound marketing. To create influence you need to get people’s attention and give them a reason to view your content.
Know your Audience
This is something that gets quoted again and again by marketers but it’s also the easiest to get wrong. The reason for this is that many company’s assume they know who their audience is and, by extension, what they like. When it comes to knowing your audience, it’s always best to assume that you know nothing and start from there. Do the market research, find out who your existing customer base is and what they watch online and what platforms they use. Then shape your content strategy around those marketing personas. Whilst this doesn’t mean simply emulating or impersonating the content they’re already watching, it should nonetheless influence what you do.
However amazing your content, for it to be influential in the way you want it to be, it needs to be consistent with your overarching brand image and message. The concept of brand archetypes is a powerful way of thinking about how you build a brand image and project that image to your target audiences. These are universal character tropes borrowed from Jungian psychology and can act as a powerful thematic template when it comes to building a comprehensive content strategy.
Brand consistency doesn’t mean creating content that’s similar. Predictable or hackneyed content is the quickest way to turn people off your brand. The idea is to ground it around a central personality, so that you become known for doing things a certain way. Your content can be radically varied but it should all sit within the broad remit of your brand’s image.
We’ve talked about consistency, so now I want to come at this from the other side and talk about the importance of diversification. This is less to do with image, style and personality and more to do with content type and function. I’ve talked in detail before about YouTube’s help hub hero model of content marketing as it really is one of the simplest and most effective ways of segmenting your content for deployment throughout the marketing funnel.
In this framework the hero content is your big all singing and all dancing brand advert that aims to draw as much attention to your and your company as possible. Help content is designed to be practical and provide information to your existing and potential consumers and be easily discoverable on search. Hub content is push content that helps to promote your brand to your prime prospects but not in the glitzy showy way that hero content does.
By using the help hub hero framework you can keep your content diverse by covering all your bases. Remember, good content needs to bring something to the table for everyone who is interested in your company so give the people what they want. If you can do this with consistency month in month out, then it won’t be long before a lot more people sit up and start taking notice of you.