Same, but different. Why it’s vital to get your content strategy and brand strategy working together

 

 

Do you know the difference between a brand strategy and content strategy? They’re both key parts of a modern marketer’s arsenal. But while closely connected, they aren’t the same thing. It’s worth understanding why.

 

What is a brand strategy?

Your brand strategy is your overarching marketing bible. Sitting above all else, it guides everything to do with building your brand – from clearly articulating who you are and what you do, to what you believe and how you should communicate.

 

What is a content strategy?

Your content strategy is a powerful – but not the only – tool for executing your brand strategy. More fluid than your brand strategy, it outlines how to use content to communicate who your brand is and what you’re all about as business.

Clearly, they’re both pretty important. While they should ideally work closely together, often they don’t.  In fact, in our experience many businesses don’t have a content strategy at all! (According to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2018 B2B Benchmarks report, only 37% of marketers in the USA currently have one and it’s no doubt a similar story here in Australia). The obvious question is, why?

 

Short-term ‘brand’ blindness.

When timings are tight and to-do lists are long, there’s tremendous pressure to take a short-term approach to just get things done. Unfortunately, this means day-to-day tasks and tactics often begin to supersede all others, and the brand strategy often gets relegated to ‘another day’, replaced instead by an eclectic array of project-based content and campaigns.

Now, in the short-term this may not seem like a big deal, especially if sales and revenue still seem okay. But when it continues month after month, year after year, the long-term threats to a brand can become very real.

Without a well-defined brand strategy guiding your content, even the best brands risk becoming muddled. When a brand loses clarity, its emotional connection with customers quickly falls, as does customers loyalty. This leaves it at mercy of commoditisation and competitors who may be doing a better job of nurturing those same connections.

 

Be true to who you are

Regardless of the media channels you use, the consistency and relevance of your content is pivotal in building and maintaining a healthy brand. While you want your content ideas to be interesting, it’s also important they truly reflect who you are. Remember, people want to support brands with shared values, and content is a powerful way to communicate these. The flip side is the wrong content can also undermine your values – so be careful!

 

Brand Guidelines

Inconsistency is the enemy of any brand. That’s why, if you haven’t already done so, we strongly suggest you formalise your brand identity and tone of voice through the creation of brand guidelines. In addition to including things like your positioning, tagline and values, it should also provide clear rules around your preferred content style. It’s also a great idea to include specific examples outlining approved ways to talk, write, post and even tweet about your brand. Another thing well worth considering is appointing a Brand Champion within your business to help ensure the brand guidelines are understood and adhered to at all times.

 

The relationship between your brand and content strategy is a very important one.  Your content program should articulate your brand. Your content pillars should support and tell your brand story regularly and consistently. No strategy is set in stone – to make your content as effective as possible, experiment, test and adjust your content strategy according to your results.

 

Could your brand and content strategies be better aligned?

Do you need help creating brand guidelines?

Contact The Marketing Syndicate today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 musts for any social media strategy

 

Like businesses around the globe, chances are social media is occupying more and more of your time and energy, especially when it comes to marketing. This is no great surprise given the increasingly ubiquitous nature of social media and the endless ways we now use it to manage our relationships with family, friends, colleagues and, yes, brands.

Clearly, the implications of this are pretty seismic for marketers. It means having an effective social media strategy is no longer just a ‘nice to have’, it’s an essential part of modern business.

Of course, as we’ve already explored in previous blogs, getting social media right is a lot more complicated than just posting ‘stuff’ on Facebook or Instagram. While every business (and industry) has its own unique social media landscape and challenges, there are a few things that remain true across the board.

 

  1. Influencers work

Influencer Marketing is big news for younger audiences such as Millennials and Gen Z (born mid-1990s/early 2000s). If some, or all, of your customers are 35 or younger, it’s really something you should be considering. What is it? Simply fostering partnerships with respected brand ambassadors – aka influencers – to help advertise your brand or products, either overtly or subtly, via posts and videos their own existing social media networks. It can be a powerful tool as we know consumers tend to respond far more strongly to connections with people on social media than they ever do with brands. It’s more human, intimate and engaging. The key, of course, is finding relevant and appropriate influencers who are a good fit for your brand and its values. Financially speaking, the bigger an influencer’s profile and following, the more it’s likely going to cost to get them on board.

The perception of influencer marketing can trick many brands into thinking it is something that’s only meant for the big brands with the even bigger budgets.

That’s not necessarily the case—particularly with the rise of the micro-influencer. These influencers with a smaller audience, have a highly engaged following and make this marketing tactic available to companies of all sizes.

Micro influencers can be extremely cost-effective, especially for small businesses or brands that are looking to activate an influencer marketing campaign but can’t invest a big budget up front (or ever!). They are highly trusted and valued by the people who follow them—meaning they can be equally as valuable when it comes to promoting your brand.

 

  1. Know your ideal Customer Persona

This seems obvious, right? Trouble is, no matter how hard we try it’s virtually impossible to ever completely know what your customers are thinking – especially when it comes to an intimate personal medium as social media. But… with the right type of research you can get a gist of the types of things your customers and prospects are looking for, then base your social media strategy on these insights. Creating a ‘customer persona’ is an excellent way to do this. It’s essentially a personal profile that describes your ideal customer, which then allows you to more effectively target your social media to: (a) reach them; and (b) get their attention.

Some of things to consider when writing and refining your customer persona include:

  • Where do they work?
  • What are their interests?
  • How much do they earn?
  • Where do they live?
  • How old are they?
  • How do they share content?
  • What do they enjoy?
  • What stresses them out?
  • What are their life goals?
  • What’s their family situation?

 

  1. Make it Emotional

In a world filled with rationality and responsibility, many people use social media as an escape outlet. This is why appealing to people’s emotions is one of the best ways to engage them with your brand and your posts. Nowadays the most engaging types of social media content is emotive and immersive. As much as possible, make your posts dynamic, thought-provoking and original. By all means demonstrate creativity, but also invite your followers to get creative in the ways they interact with your product in a campaign. Make them part of your brand story too.

 

Ready to turbo-charge your social media campaigns?

Contact The Marketing Syndicate today.

THE POWER OF SILLY STUFF

This week I discovered the new RSPCA NSW campaign for cats. It is called “Cat Ballads, Music to Improve the Life of Cats” and I found it funny and engaging. Not only is there an album and videos of singing cats highlighting responsible cat care, there is also a track and video created with scientists designed to calm cats and kittens in shelter environments, who may be generally stressed or left at home during the day. Goodbye Grumpy Cats!

This started me thinking about using humour in advertising.

Many memorable ad campaigns tend to be funny. Audiences like to be entertained, but not pitched to and people will pay more attention to a humorous commercial than a factual or serious one, opening themselves up to be influenced.

The key to funny advertising is assuring the humor is appropriate to both product and customer. The balance between funny and obnoxious can be delicate; and a marketer must be certain the positive effects outweigh the negative before launching a campaign. The best products to sell using humor tend to be those that consumers have to think the least about. Products that are relatively inexpensive, and often consumable, can be represented without providing a lot of facts, and that’s where there’s room for humor.

It is also worthwhile considering that different things are funny to different people. A commercial that leaves one person in stitches may not be as hilarious to someone else. The target market must always be considered. It is interesting to note that humor in advertising tends to improve brand recognition, but does not improve product recall, message credibility, or buying intentions. Variety is key, once a commercial starts to wear thin there’s no saving it without some variation on the concept.

Mark Levit of Partners & Levit Advertising writes “Humorous campaigns are often expensive because they have to be constantly changed. Advertisers must remember that while making the customer laugh, they have to keep things interesting, because old jokes die along with their products.” I wonder, as the world speeds up and digital advertising evolves, will this continue to be an issue?

If you want to check out the Cat Ballads Album, click here

You can also donate while you are there.

WHAT’S NEW IN DIGITAL MARKETING IN 2017

What’s New in Digital Marketing in 2017

2017 brings with it a wealth of new possibilities for digital marketing professionals throughout the world. Between developments in mobile technology, virtual reality, and graphics development, it is becoming rapidly clear that a fresh take is needed to help marketing teams best reach their target audiences. We have identified some exciting changes that both present new opportunities and challenges for marketing departments and agencies worldwide.

The Continued Rise of Content Marketing

As web searching tools grow in complexity and capability, the focus for content developers and marketers has shifted from a pure keyword based optimisation strategy to a focus on fresh and high quality content. The emphasis is now on the creator to make certain that the information contained not only is indexed readily, but is cross-linked with similarly informative pieces on other high-ranking sites.

When tied in with social networking, it is possible to leverage multiple indexing and ranking services to rapidly reach a large audience in a targeted demographic or geographic zone. For instance, an article shared throughout Facebook, as long as its content is truly informative and accurate, will rank higher in users’ feeds than general posts.

Ad Blocking Technology Will Become a Default Feature

Google Chrome is rumored to be developing a standardised ad blocker for its web browser that will automatically banish the most blatant and irritating advertisements. There are many reasons for this, ranging from improved security to user preferences and general performance, though the main reason may very well involve advertising revenue.

One of the greatest challenges digital marketers have faced over the last three years is the rise of third-party ad blocking tools that have made it an exceptional challenge to monetize web content provided on the open net. Even with “white lists” enabling nonintrusive advertising the potential for revenue generation has dropped significantly. Google is trying to counteract this by implementing a tool that only removes the worst offenders while providing a framework for modern accepted advertisements Social Media Marketing

Web development is a continuous process that destroys as often as it creates. In the span of less than 20 years we’ve seen the rise and falls of titans like MySpace and GeoCities, along with the awe-inspiring rise of current time usage champions Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Since the users are the product for these services, marketing developers have to follow the platform’s rules in order to even have a chance at success. (mention content is owned by the platforms and not the businesses/brands?)

The middle result, the first being blatant ads that turned off viewers, was the creation of multiple advertising platforms with their own development guidelines and tools. This led to the rise of platform specific platform advertising specialists and a cottage industry in helping end users avoid those ads.

Now, in 2017, a new paradigm is beginning to emerge. The largest platforms are implementing a combination of content-and-popularity aware automated ranking with promotions to enable businesses to leverage social marketing alongside now-traditional PPC advertisements. With the emphasis being placed on connectivity and quality content, it is rapidly growing easier to develop engaging content that leverages the strengths of every platform (i.e. short shareable missives for Twitter, longer articles for Facebook and LinkedIn, and infographics for Instagram.)

What Are Your Thoughts?

The shifting marketing industry has lead to many theories about where it is headed in the future. Do you believe that the shift to open standards, greater connectivity, and a focus on content will be the true guiding posts for marketers in 2017 and beyond?

 

We’re a boutique Sydney promotional marketing and creative agency trusted by some of Australia’s biggest brands. We’re 100% passionate about what we do, and that passion shows through in the quality of our work. Give Ingrid Ambrosius a call if you'd like to know more about The Marketing Syndicate and our services.