Content is the number one challenge for brands today for a variety of reasons. The ability to create game changing content that tells a better story than your competitors and then integrate it across paid, earned, shared and owned media isn't easy. This is one reason I get irritated with those who preach content marketing without ever talking about the operations and organizational change needed to get it done right.
A process is needed and it starts with storytelling.
In order for your brand to "do" effective content marketing and feed the engine day in and day out with a compelling story requires that your business become a content organization and it starts with having a good story.
Brand storytelling is what drives a content organization; and it's more than just the copy on your web site, an ad or a status update. A content organization has the right teams, editorial workflows and technology solutions in place that helps facilitate organizational change that will allow you to tell a consist brand story and one that is shared, amplified and consumed at each and every customer touch point.
Not sure where to get started? Well, here's a blueprint.
START WITH YOUR STORY
Marketers often skip this step and then get frustrated because they eventually run out of things to say. They end up creating content that no one really cares about; and the truth is, a "galvanizing idea" can only take your brand so far.
Your story should consist of 2 main inputs to your storytelling framework:
Research/Insights: Both quantitative and qualitative measures are needed to craft a story that can break through the clutter and successfully change customer behavior. These include a deep analysis of your customers' interest and affinities, search behavior and various perceptions and general conversations about your brand from various stakeholders (media, analysts, influencers, the community, etc.)
Brand Goals: Just because a high percentage of your customers may like country music, doesn't mean that you have the license to actually talk about it. You need to ensure that the story you decide to tell delivers somehow on your brand's value proposition. Red Bull's "Giver of Wings" is a textbook example of a narrative that adds value to their community and aligns perfectly with their brand.
The output will help you mold a story that your audience can actually relate to, engage with and then share with others.
THINK INTERNALLY FIRST
If it's one thing that media companies have a lot of, it's people. They have traditional journalists, editors, managing editors, assignment editors, writers, staff writers, freelance writers, creatives and analysts.
Brands have people too. They're called employees and hopefully they are wicked smart and passionate about what they do.
Smart companies are mobilizing employees to become advocates and brand journalists . I'm not saying that you just open the floodgates and allow for a free for all. You'll have to create a plan, establish processes & workflows, and start small with just 10 or 15 employees. Once you demonstrate a few wins and best practices, you can expand the program from there.
This is kind of a no-brainer if you think about it; yet I am still confused why so many companies oppress their employees from storytelling. Employees are viewed as trusted and credible sources when others are seeking out information about a product or service. It makes sense. It's a win-win for everyone involved. A few platforms that enable employee advocacy and employee brand storytelling are Addvocate, Everyone Social and Dynamic Signal.
EXPAND BEYOND THE FIREWALL
If you have a good product then most likely there are groups of people who already love you. They have a natural affinity with your brand because of several emotional and rational motivations:
- the way it makes them feel (Dodge Ram = I'm a bad ass)
- the value they get from using your product (Southwest = I prefer affordable airfare)
- the way they are treated (Nordstroms = I like the way I am treated)
These groups of people are called brand advocates. They might not have their own podcast or millions of followers but their voices are heard. They are aiding and influencing their circles of influence down the purchase funnel. Mobilizing your advocates to help tell your brand story is a huge opportunity and, in fact, there are several platforms available today that can facilitate this - Social Chorus, Influitive and Branderati.
WARNING: If you have a second-rate product/service or your customer support department blows, this will not work.
ESTABLISH AN EDITORIAL FRAMEWORK
Once you have your narrative solidified and have your internal teams and customers ready to feed the content engine, you will have to build a supply chain that can facilitate editorial workflows, content ideation, asset management, approval workflows and content distribution to the channels you manage - blogs, Twitter, Facebook, email, etc. This could also include .com publishing and paid media integration as well considering the importance of a real-time newsroom operation and converged media modeling.
Establishing a content supply chain are needed to build consistencies in brand storytelling and controls to avoid content accidents.
One thing to note is that every organization is different and they each have their own challenges. What works for some may not work for others. The point is that you must take content serious from an organizational perspective if you truly want to make an impact.
Infographics and viral videos do not make an impact.
Photo Credit: Content Organization/shutterstock