Content Marketing for Brands: Why, What, and How

April 25, 2018

A whopping 75 percent of CPG purchases start online. Considering there are 3.5 billion Google searches every day, it's no wonder content development and marketing has been such a hot topic over the last few years.

So, of course you should be producing smart, compelling content to elevate your brand. But before you do, let's break down the why, what, and how to get started.

The Why

People remember, favor, and are more likely to purchase from brands that provide them with content they enjoy and find useful. In a recent study by Forbes and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University, branded content was shown to drive a 59 percent increase in aided recall, a 7 percent increase in brand favorability, and a 9 percent increase in purchase consideration.

Content has a significant impact on your search ranking. This leads to higher click-through-rates, more web traffic, and more sales. If your consumers start by typing their needs into a Google search bar, you need to show up there.

The What

Once you've decided you should invest in developing content, move on to the what and answer the question that vexes even the most seasoned marketers: what type of content should I make? What topics, formats, and publishing platforms are right for my brand? This can be daunting at first, especially when the best content marketing programs are coming from the likes of Land Rover, Adidas, GE, and Taco Bell.

Take a deeper look, and you'll uncover two major content development strategies used by leading companies that produce the desired results:

  • A variety of formats. Videos, podcasts, interviews, reviews; the possibilities go on and on. This provides your customers different ways to engage. More importantly, producing content in multiple formats will provide valuable data on what your customers are interested in. These learnings can inform key decisions on products, other marketing initiatives, and your overall brand communication strategy.
  • A consistent publishing cadence. A sporadic publishing cadence leads to sporadic (and often low) engagement. It's easy to get overwhelmed thinking about publishing new content every day, but, in fact, most brands don't need to do this. Find a cadence that works for your company and stick to it. Consistent publishing will give your audience something to come back to time and time again.

The How

So, you're invested in the idea of making content, and you know what you want to create - but how on earth do you get started? We break it down into five easy steps:

  • Understand your audience. Know who you want to talk to, what they find valuable, and what you can offer them. Pinpoint the problems they're facing and how you can help solve them with valuable content. Building buyer personas is a helpful way to focus your content development efforts on their key attributes.
  • Stay true to your brand. Know who you are as a brand, what distinguishes you from competitors, and the filter through which you see the world. Consumers know when brands step outside of their swim lanes, and nothing turns audiences off like content that doesn't seem authentic.
  • Develop your content pillars. These are the key themes of content that support your overarching strategy. Creating a focused group of content pillars and some sample topics under each will organize your efforts, ensuring your content isn't scattered and unfocused. If you're a footwear brand, for example, your content pillars may include great running routes in different cities, streetwear fashion trends, and customer stories of athletic accomplishments.
  • Develop an editorial calendar and divide the responsibility. Using your company's employees and subject matter experts to develop content will make things easier on everyone. As they say, many hands make light work.
  • Publish, learn, and get better. You'll look back in a few months and cringe at some of the first things you published, but that's normal. Content is a beast most easily tamed by experimenting to find what works. The good news is that the shelf life of most content is very short. There will be plenty of opportunities to improve.
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