It is very tempting, when you first consider a marketing strategy, to jump straight to worrying about sales figures. And why not? After all, sales are exactly what pays your bills and ultimately keeps your business alive.
Sales oriented marketing is therefore without doubt a necessity and definitely has its place in the grand scheme of your overall business marketing strategy. That said, it should still only be one element of your marketing repertoire.
Another key aspect of your business marketing strategy should include branding. Exceptional branding can promote lasting business success and underpin consistent sales outcomes.
A well considered brand can result in greater consumer and staff loyalty, increased referrals and - importantly - consolidate trust in your product or service.
For instance, a global survey conducted by BRANDfog indicates 79% of consumers are more willing to share personal information with brands that they trust - information that businesses can then utilise to inform highly targeted sales and marketing campaigns.
What is a brand?
According to the American Marketing Association, a brand is, “a customer experience represented by a collection of images and ideas; often, it refers to a symbol such as a name, logo, slogan, and design scheme.”
Put simply, your brand is your story.
It is the ethos of your business - who you are, what you represent and what sets you apart from the competition.
Every aspect of your business and marketing strategy should work together to reinforce this identity and consequently create your brand.
Elements that should work together to create a cohesive representation of your brand include:
Approach to customer service
The language you choose for written communications
Really, the sky is the limit.
What makes a brand great?
Take a moment to consider your favourite products or maybe just nominate the first three brands that spring to mind. What did you think of - Coke, Nike? Qantas? Maybe you thought of something closer to home, such as a local designer or cafe.
What do each of these brands have in common? Chances are they have achieved three key things:
They have built trust
They encourage an emotional response
They have generated an idea, community or movement that you want to join.
It is this imagined community and emotional response that separates quality branding from sales oriented marketing and is exactly what engenders increased loyalty and a need to be associated with your product or service.
As the online world and marketing space become increasingly competitive, content marketing offers a cost effective opportunity to build your brand, engage your audience and enable them to interact with and join your community.
How can you create an effective brand?
Great branding is all about conveying an enticing story or idea. Well executed content marketing provides the perfect means to formulate and convey this story in an interactive and personalised way.
Here are three simple steps to help you on this journey:
Step 1: Document your brand
To ensure every aspect of your marketing strategy is cohesive create a branding document.
This should include:
Your brand identity - what colours, fonts, designs and tone of voice suit your brand?
Your audience - who are your target market?
Your point(s) of difference - what sets you apart from your competition?
Step 2: Strategy
Fundamental to any successful content marketing campaign is strategy. This includes clearly defined goals and an understanding of exactly what type of content and media platforms are most relevant to your audience.
Content marketing may encompass:
Social media - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pintrest
Step 3: Add value
The most important thing to remember when creating an effective content marketing campaign, is to always add value to your audience.
A great brand utilises content to connect with their audience on a deeper level and prove they understand exactly what it is that their audience needs. This means creating content that doesn't feel like advertising. Instead, focus on topical content of interest to your consumers. Consider issues they are faced with and how your product or service is able to solve their problem.
In the words of the Content Marketing Institute, “storytelling is not intended to be a “selling” tool; it’s a method of building strong relationships with your customers and a thriving community of loyalists over time. Your story identifies what your passions are and serves as the foundation for all your future content developments.”