Nowadays no company can do without a good content strategy. The media landscape has changed dramatically in recent years and consumers play a major role in this. Companies can no longer expect that the potential customer will automatically end up buying their products or paying for their services. Consumers are more critical, no longer as loyal as they used to be and can easily find alternatives online and via social media. In addition, they expect more and more from companies. The key to success for any brand is to come up with products and services that directly solve the issues that customers face - products and services that truly appeal to them. This has to be accompanied by the right tone, the right values, exceptional content production supported by a good content strategy.
With content marketing you focus on the information needs of your target group and you respond to this with valuable content to bind new relationships and existing customers. As a company you must distinguish yourself positively by really helping your customers.
Below are five insights that can help you draw up a good content strategy.
1. Understand your customer
In order to be and also remain a brand that has added value, knowing your audience is never enough. You have to understand your customers. Understand why (potential) customers make certain choices in product use, leisure activities and purchasing behaviour. To understand purchasing behaviour, it is necessary to listen carefully to people because analysing online data is never enough. Of course, collecting data is fine, but make sure you supplement it with information that you have gathered through physical contact with customers. That might be difficult if you only operate online as a business. If you only operate online, then it is important that you frequently carry out street surveys, interact with your customers via social media so you can understand how they see you as a brand and your products as well. If you're a small online business, you may outsource the street surveys to other companies who will make sure that there are people on ground to talk to customers while you focus on interacting with other customers on social media. The data you collect can really help you in improving your products and services.
2. Stand for something as a brand
Where branding used to focus on developing a sharp, distinctive positioning, now it is mainly about the role that a brand plays in the life of the consumer and about the (ideological, spiritual) values that the brand and the consumer have to share with each other. In that respect, a brand hardly differs from a movement, such as #metoo for example.
A brand is therefore more than a stamp on a certain product. A brand is an ideology, it stands for something and shares it in an almost activist way. Experience is the key word for connecting consumers to that ideology. Consider, for example, Nike making Colin Kaepernick the face of its latest ad campaign. By doing so, they made it pretty clear that they support Colin taking the knee to protest the injustices that Black folks and other minorities face in the US. As a brand, it is important to stand for something and whatever you do, make sure you're standing on the right side of history.
3. Show up offline!
Offline experience still appears to be an important factor for feeling, experiencing and participating in the values of the brand. It also contributes to the need of people to be part of a community. Offering the opportunity for people to come into contact with each other ensures that they also respect each other more, as well as the brand itself. And that is exactly what the place of a brand should be: part of a community. The CEO of a brand determines the direction of the brand, but the values are shared with the consumer.
Hashtag Workmode is a very good example of such a community. They rent office spaces to female entrepreneurs, but also introduce other ladies to the spaces by organising interesting workshops and events where women come together to share knowledge and encourage one another.
At Hashtag Workmode, the community feeling is strong and if you have been to any of their workshops, there is a chance that you may even want to join them, participate more often in their workshops or even rent a space from them. And then we haven't even mentioned the user generated content that such an offline workshop delivers.
4. Your client is your most important influencer
Nowadays, it appears that finding an online influencer isn't very difficult. Instagram is filled with influencers in all fields. While working with influencers is advised and can sometimes be very rewarding, it is important to note that the most important influencer is your customer. A customer is someone who, based on an intrinsic motivation, joins your brand, your values and through word of mouth and maybe their online activities, promote your brand enthusiastically. Such customers are not difficult to find. All you have to do is check your social media channels for people who make use of your brand related hashtag and are enthusiastically talking about your products. Find them, encourage them and work with them.
These types of customers lovingly and happily share positive content about your brand. And no, they do not need to have tens of thousands of followers to influence their audience. The people who are part of the hashtag they use are closely involved in each other's lives and also share the same lifestyle and preferences. Their engagement with their followers is high and the conversion for your brand often turns out to be higher than the efforts of a 'professional influencer' with hundreds of thousands of followers. A satisfied customer who happily shares positive pictures of your products on their social media is more important than an influencer who has never used your products but is only advertising for you because you're paying them. They are not passionate about your products because to them, it's just another job.
5. Be creative when creating your brand's content
Whether you want to use a paid campaign on social media or just a blog post: be creative with all your (blog/social media) posts. Always be as original as possible, so that the recipient hardly sees the difference between a regular and a sponsored post. Let the technical possibilities that a platform offers play an important role in all your content creation. It is also important that while strategising about your brand's content, that you pay extra attention to the different ways that you can consistently produce high quality blogs for your business. Your creativity must be consistent if you want to stand out and build a following.
Always consider the storylines that you want to share with your target group within your content strategy. These stories must match the "Why" of your brand. They provide focus, structure and flexibility. You can choose to bring stories to your target group in different ways and blogging is one of the most rewarding methods of doing this.
Are you going to write a blog, make a video or do you do it through photography? Try to create interesting content for your target group and try to stand out again through a creative marketing campaign or stunt. Understand that your content can always go viral and when it does, you want the world to immediately understand your brand's message as well as see how creative you are.
Never forget: to drive your content, it is important that you put in the work both online and offline. Promoting your brand online is fantastic, but it is not the secret to success. Customers are also looking for real connections - real brands, real influencers and real contacts, and real products that solve real issues in everyday life. So keep it real.
All in all, a good content strategy requires a number of crucial steps to be taken in advance. What do you think about these 5 insights and how useful do you think they will be for your brand? Lets us know in the comment section.