Content marketing has grown in importance and popularity in recent years, a natural development as traditional advertising is easier and easier for consumers to mute, fast forward or flip through. Content marketing is a company’s creation of the credible, topical information that consumers are hungry for, and delivering it under the company brand – driving recognition of and respect for the firm. But, while many companies see the value of providing content marketing, few are doing so in a strategic or effective way.
Companies are not prepared
A study last year found that 90% of marketers expected content marketing to grow in importance over the year, but only 38% of them actually had a content strategy in place. And to make matters worse, many companies that do provide branded content do it without a strategy, a clear focus or accountability. Not exactly a recipe for success.
How to create branded content
So, how should a business create branded content and manage it?
1. Understand the role of branded content. It should educate and inform, rather than promote your brand in a blatant way. It should not feel at all “salesy” or you could do harm to your brand.
2. Listen to your audience. Begin by paying attention to your audience: Where do they meet online? And what information do they consume?
3. Be true to your brand’s voice. Branded content may be different than other forms of marketing, but your company should maintain a consistent voice in all your marketing content.
4. Be strategic. This doesn’t mean be aggressive or promotional, but have a strategy. Understand why you are doing content marketing and try to be consistent with that vision. How are you making your brand more respected or trusted? How are you strengthening your bond with your customers through this effort?
5. Be focused. Begin with a clear idea and a defined area that you will target. What is your niche here? You shouldn’t try to cover the entire realm of content possibilities. Instead, focus on a manageable chunk and handle it effectively.
6. Monitor feedback and respond. Track how well your content is received. And then look for ways to adapt future efforts to build on the most popular or effective content. Try and learn from this experience. Adapt your approach as needed.
7. Be timely and timeless. Some content should be very topical. Make it current, timely, and compelling. The problem with that content, however, is that it might not have a long shelf life. Complement it with items that could be as relevant in three or six months or longer. Create a balance between quick hits and longer-lasting material.
8. Make someone accountable. Even if you don’t have an official “chief content officer,” put someone in charge of your branded content, and hold that individual accountable. What gets measured does improve. What doesn’t get measured often falls by the wayside.