Branding in the age of content marketing
Most people in marketing have known for several years that the nature of marketing has changed. “Content is king” has been a thing for a long time. But the truth is, most brands don’t put sufficient brand strategy behind their content production. What should be common sense is not common practice. But now more than ever, buyers choose brands that they trust and respect. The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer highlights that trust is second only to price as a purchase driver. In fact, 70% of participants say trust is more important today than in the past, and 74% report that a brand’s impact on society is why trust has become more important than ever. As younger decision-makers take control across every industry this trend will only become more pronounced.
Brands that are driven by purpose and have a deep understanding of their point of difference have always had a genuine advantage in the marketplace. In the B2B space, brands like GE, 3M, Intel and IBM come to life within the employee culture and throughout their sales and marketing practices and messaging.
In the age of content marketing, there is enormous opportunity to build your brand with purpose, depth and humanity. Spending the time to clarify your messaging at the most elemental level and crafting a strategy to bring your unique purpose and point-of-difference to light across your internal and external communications is imperative for brands that want to lead.
Creating great content is not enough—you need to create content that informs and educates on the issues that are most important to your customers and aligns with the purpose of your brand. You will be on the right track when you realize that your brand is the secondary beneficiary—the first is the reader/viewer/user.
Great content will excel in three areas.
- It educates first and foremost. Now more than ever, people hate to be sold. They want to learn then choose. Do not lead with brand and sales messaging. Get them to trust and appreciate you first, then win the sale.
- It is interesting and valuable. Your prospects’ time is valuable. You must reward them for spending their valuable time with you.
- It is anchored to your brand and purpose. Your brand only benefits from content if users remember from whom it came. This is where strong brand strategy and creative execution will separate the best from the rest.
Smart content strategies can be game changing for high-consideration products and B2B brands. Longer format content can carry messaging in a way that nothing else can. Here are few examples of companies that have effectively shifted their strategy to make content marketing a key pillar in their go-to-market strategy. If you’ve got favorites of your own to share, please let us know.
Intel embeds a focus on how people think and feel about technology into its content—a flexible strategy that allows the company to reinforce its “Intel inside” slogan in an educational and human way.
Salesforce is a driving force in B2B sales, lead nurturing and community building. The company has an internal team of communicators that make client success stories a pillar of its content.
Our client HEIDENHAIN has been using content to drive their brand forward for several years now. Thanks to strong foundational work to identify positioning and target needs, we’ve been able to use content to tell a strong story about how the brand celebrates—and supports—brilliant engineering accomplishments. In fact, this content program just won HEIDENHAIN the Brand Momentum Award at AMA’s BrandSmart conference.
How have you used content to tell your brand story in a way that engages your audience? Tell us in the comments.