Fulfilling Your Brand Promise with Content
Ever since marketers witnessed the power of the Web 2.0 world, the term content marketing has been tossed around as if it were the Holy Grail of everything we’ve been waiting for as marketing leaders. The promise of “getting the right content in front of the right people and the right time” was the silver bullet to drive business. However, if you unpack that statement, most of us have no idea what the right content is, who the right person is, or what the right time is. So, we found ourselves at a bit of a crossroads. Fast forward 10 years later and we’re still at the same crossroads.
“Getting the right content in front of the right people at the right time.”
I still believe the statement is the right dream, however I feel that it’s missing the “why” and the “how,” which has driven us to this point of confusion. The why being the promise of the brand and the how being the fulfillment of that promise. As marketing leaders, we need to do both, communicate the promise of our brand and fulfill that promise at the moment of interaction with our consumers. Content is a great way to do both; communicate and fulfill.
THE BRAND PROMISE
Connecting the story and promise of our brand to the consumer values and needs is the best way to build a strong emotional connection. Whether it’s building a story of adventure and nostalgia, engaging in a purpose driven cause to change the world, or simply crafting an aspirational life of abundance and elegance, our brand promise is meant to provide an avenue for consumers to curate a life according to their own dreams or purpose. These consumer decisions and relationships are not made lightly and can create a deep bond that can last a lifetime if done correctly and nurtured.
With this mindset, we’re seeing a lot of companies jumping into purpose or promise driven marketing by creating emotionally charged brand films that try to get to the depth of what the company promises and provides. This brand messaging is then built into a communications campaign to try and get this authentic word out to the masses. The only problem is, most companies stop there. They try to win by communicating something different but not acting any differently at the moment of interaction.
As marketing leaders, we oversee much more than what we communicate about our brand’s promise. We are also tasked with creating the holistic experience in how the brand promise is “fulfilled.” This is where things can get interesting and exciting when it comes to content. Content serves a lot of purposes in today’s multi-channel, multi-screen environment. It drives a story while providing texture to boring transactions. However, the way we use content is the most important factor when it comes to both communicating and fulfilling a brand promise.
THE HOLY GRAIL STATEMENT
Now that we understand how a brand promise needs to come to life through the creative elements of the content, we can start to unpack the Holy Grail statement and get our content working for us at the both the brand promise level and at the moment of transaction.
The Right Content
The problem with understanding what the right content might be is the many roles it plays. From emotional connection with the consumer, to educating on features and benefits, to supporting a purchase decision, to entertaining at opportune times, we can easily get lost in fighting our way through the types of content needed to fulfill our content strategy. Fortunately, our friends over at YouTube have done a really great job framing up how content should be viewed in a marketers toolbox. Hero, Hub, Help.
Hero: This is the “Tent-Pole” content that is developed around major events for your brand, campaigns, or your consumer.
Hub: This content is regularly scheduled content for platform or distributed marketing purposes.
Help: This content is hard working and is really built to answer questions that consumers might have about your product or services and is usually viewed as a result of a query. When making this content, you need to ask to yourself “How would my brand answer these questions?”
I do feel that this needs to be expanded a bit. Mentioned above, as marketing leaders, we also need to ensure that all interaction points with the brand need to fulfill the promise. There is tremendous opportunity for content to supply some of that mechanism. So, the fourth framework I would add:
Transaction: This content is dynamically developed to supply brand messaging and tone at various moments of truth throughout the consumer purchase process. The moment of transaction is a scary place for most consumers, so this could be a great opportunity to combine content with the mechanics of the transaction to ease purchase jitters or support the purchase decision.
The Right People
Creating content for content’s sake is great for some companies, but most are trying to connect with specific individuals or groups and the content needed for that will vary drastically. Creating the best environment for content to succeed is to tailor the content based on the audience and who you’re trying to effect. We can connect messaging to mental states or consumer needs. After all, the way that you target your audiences and what content you use at that moment is, in itself, a brand statement. You can slice and dice your audience segments a million ways, but here are a few places to start:
Unawares: How do you open a dialog with folks that don’t know you or your offering? Do you look at content for word of mouth, straight advertising, or utilitarian messaging to solve their problem?
First Time Purchasers / First Repeat Purchasers: How do you support the purchase decision and welcome someone to your brand? This level of engagement can go a long way if the person is nervous about the purchase or on the fence whether it was the right one.
Loyalists: How do you reward someone for a continued relationship? The use of personalized content and building them into your brand story can create a bond that will never be broken.
Defectors: How do you bring people back into the brand community if they’ve slipped a bit? At one time they purchased your offering, but something happened. How can you build that brand relationship again?
The Right Time
Advertising sucks. Not many people are waiting for the next piece of content from brands they follow (or don’t follow). Blasting your brand purpose video over and over may work to some extent, but it’s not a viable long term solution. Understanding the right time is crucial to fulfilling your brand promise and building your business. Also, too much content or too little content could be detriments to the brand perception and using content at the wrong time could relate in similar results. There are many ways to define the right time and once you slap an algorithm out there you can come up with endless ways to connect your audience with content. Some key times where brands can use content to fulfill their brand promise are as follows:
Shopping: The shopping behavior for most industries has changed a lot in the last 5 years. Knowing the right product elements and brand messages with the right sequence to communicate throughout the shopping process is key to showing value and emotional connection.
Point of Decision: This is a critical time and opportunity to communicate with the right content. Rewarding and supporting all the decisions that need to be made for a purchase is a huge opportunity to make the purchase seamless.
Purchase: Rewarding and supporting the actual purchase goes a long way in the realm of satisfaction and loyalty.
Usage & Service: A lot of companies end their relationships at the moment of purchase. Keeping the support and dialog going while using the offering or interacting with service can offer opportunities for personalized content based on their individual behaviors.
CONCLUSION: 5 KEY TAKEAWAYS
Content plays many different roles in our marketing toolbox. Having a defined but dynamic content strategy, we can use content to its fullest promise and potential. We are in a world where we have to not only communicate our brand promise, but also fulfill it at each interaction. Content plays a strategic and hero role in both.
Some things to keep in mind when approaching your content strategy to fulfill your brand promise:
- Elasticity: Can the content idea stretch over time as well as down the funnel?
- Personal Connections: Is there a way to connect on an individual level, whether dynamically generated or highly targeted content?
- Story Arc: We live in a multiple touch content world. What is the underlying story arc that is played out over time?
- Permission: How can we use the combination of targeting and content to gain permission to continue talking with our customers rather than just advertise to them?
- Transaction: At each transaction point, there is an opportunity to surprise and delight. How can content support that?