This is a three part series and a refined excerpt of a presentation I gave last month for fashion entrepreneurs in conjunction with People Wear SF and the San Francisco Fashion Incubator. While it’s a generalized overview of branding basics, there are reminders for brands of all sizes about the art of crafting and telling your story. If you have questions, or want to unearth some deeper ideas together, do something crazy: drop me an old-fashioned note using the helpful form located here. Let’s dig.
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as a "strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Put simply, content marketing is having a meaningful conversation with your audience. It’s a friendly armchair chat—the art of communicating without selling. Traditional marketing routes are becoming less and less effective as smart consumers desire a curated experience that provides them with new values, experiences, and ideas that may eventually change their thinking, routines, and behavior. These days, having a content-driven marketing plan is not just essential—it’s crucial.
There is much to uncover about creating a content marketing campaign and tomorrow I'll likely be staring down the barrel of the latest new trend, but here are 10 valuable tips (plus an 11th for extra measure that I'm really fired up for) getting started and staying true to your brand story along the way:
- Always create and use a documented content strategy. Build a checklist that defines all of the social channels you’ll use to promote each piece of content.
- Adapt your content for each channel as much as possible. Remember that each social audience is likely different; use analytics to best customize the content based on what you know about each audience.
- Don’t be afraid to try social ads as a way to expand reach of your content on social channels. A few dollars on Facebook Ads for a blog post or new brand asset that you're really proud of can go a long way.
- Ask yourself: Is it simple? Is it meaningful? If not, try again.
- Democratize access to wonder and discovery. Let someone into your world; allow them learn about who you are, what you do and how you do it—even it that means you might have to reveal the puppet strings every once in a while.
- Allow people access to your story without forcing a product message into every piece of content. Build content around ideas and takeaways that people can hold on to.
- Know to whom you’re speaking. Create buyer personas before you begin.
- Blog! Don’t be afraid of long-form content. It improves SEO, provides value to the reader, and keeps them around for a while. Imagine every piece of content as an opportunity to invite someone in and have a conversation over a cup of tea—the longer they stick around and stay engaged, the better.
- Don’t shy away from the “old-fashioned.” A branded and personalized thank-you note, letter, email, or thoughtful insert with product shipments goes a long way.
- Build a narrative, not a collection of snippets. Every piece of content should tie back to your purpose and string together to create one cohesive story.
- Invest in good writing.
I’m a firm believer that everyone has unique and authentic story to tell. But not everyone is a storyteller. If you don’t have a clear brand strategy or a voice that's resonating with your target audience—hire someone. In today’s market, your brand is your voice and if you’re not being heard you’re much like that tall tree falling in the forest with no one around to hear a sound.
Following this series on branding, I'll be revealing a brand new story series Proust for Proprietors featuring interviews with brands, founders, makers, and creators that I am inspired by. If you know anyone who might like to be featured, please get in touch.