How to build trust and reputation through content marketing
As part of Firebrand Talent’s #digitalks event series, I recently spoke to audiences in Sydney and Melbourne on how to build trust and reputation through content marketing. The key areas I focused on are detailed below.
Content is King
Publishing compelling content is a powerful way for any company or organisation (or individual) to build public recognition for their brand, product, service or issue.
In an era where the public’s trust in business, government and media remains at worrying low levels, forward-thinking marketing and PR teams are turning to content as a means to not only differentiate their brand in the marketplace, but also better engage customers and stakeholders.
But content marketing can serve a greater purpose than simply driving prospective customers into – and through – a company’s metaphorical sales ‘funnel’.
Done well – with passion, purpose and humanity – your ‘owned media’ (that is, the content you publish on your own channels) can:
- Deliver value to the marketplace over and above a company’s products and services (ensuring external communications are audience-focused rather than inward-looking corporate messaging);
- Demonstrate your organisation’s commitment to openness and transparency (we appreciate companies that are open and transparent, indeed we expect it today at all times, not just when it suits an organisation’s leadership team);
- Kick-start conversation or ignite debate around topics and issues dear to the hearts of your customers (thus providing an entry point for ongoing engagement with people);
- Get your brand noticed by influencers such as bloggers, podcasters, journalists, broadcast researchers/producers and industry conference organisers (potentially helping to generate valuable third-party endorsement, or earned media);
- Validate in the minds of customers and influencers that your company is a genuine go-to source of information in your particular field and that your people come armed with specialist knowledge and expertise.
Of course, the content you create needs to be wholly relevant for the people you are trying to communicate with; it needs to educate and inform, empower, or inspire or entertain, and easily be consumable in whatever format best suits your audience.
And of course, you need to show up regularly with your content, be focused and consistent with your editorial ‘themes’, and generously share your ideas, perspectives, knowledge and insights (relevant to the audience) again and again and again.
Fountain pens, paper and ink
The Goulet Pen Company gets this.
The mantra of company co-founder Brian Goulet is:
How can I help the most people?
This ethos comes through loud and clear in the content Goulet produces. Case in point, Goulet’s weekly hour-long Q&A Open Forum online video show during which Brian answers questions pitched at him from the Goulet community via email, Twitter, Facebook etc.
At time of writing, Goulet had produced 136 Q&A shows, many of which are 50 minutes to one hour in duration.
Wallets and paint
Meanwhile, Victorian wallet brand Bellroy and well-established UK paint company Farrow & Ball both take a progressive ‘high road’ approach to their content marketing.
Bellroy’s Carryology and Farrow & Ball’s The Chromologist are both vibrant online publications that don’t focus on the brand that publishes them but rather celebrate bigger picture themes i.e. exploring better ways to carry, and colour and design respectively (interestingly, Carryology also promotes Bellroy’s competitors – when was the last time your company promoted a competitive brand?).
Health insurance, property investment and information management
At the big end of town, Bupa’s The Blue Room content hub is a great example of a major brand that has become its own bona fide media channel by publishing top-flight content around the life stages of its core customer groups, along with common diseases such as cancer, stroke and diabetes.
Meanwhile, property investment specialists OpenCorp, like Goulet Pens, uses social media and online publishing platforms to humanise its business while at the same time providing terrific ongoing value to prospective and existing clients. At time of writing, OpenCorp had produced 238 episodes of its education-based online video show, called Property WODs.
In the business-to-business space, data storage and information management business Iron Mountain has produced a veritable smorgasbord of content options, housed in what it refers to as its ‘knowledge centre’. It provides a breadth of resources including customer stories, articles, ebooks, infographics, videos, webcasts, podcasts, whitepapers …. plus a blog!
PR versus Marketing
It’s important to differentiate the ways one can approach content marketing today. Marketers will often approach it differently to PR and communications people, for example.
The content marketing conversation often gets hijacked by the ‘more leads/more sales’ brigade, and that’s fine. Content is critical for inbound marketing-focused businesses that need heaps of web traffic so they can keep their ‘sales funnel’ topped up. Traffic, leads and conversion are key here.
But not all businesses have a goal that is narrow as that; for many brands, visibility, credibility, influence, recognition, trust and reputation are vital ‘pillars’. Having a solid reputation as a thought leader, for example, might be the goal of some businesses; building trust and advocacy within the community might be the preference of others.
Increased sales and opportunities for partnership and expansion are probably the overarching commercial objectives, but often these are the by-product of the brand’s reputational pillars, and whether or not it is trusted and respected in the marketplace.
Original content can play a pivotal role for companies and organisations wanting to fortify their reputation.
Such content will often tend to fall under a PR remit, and while ROI is still critically important, goals and measures can often be looked at in a different light.
That said, both marketers and communicators alike have access to a dizzying array of content formats.
One-off premium signature content
This is your ‘flag in the ground’ content, the one-off stuff that says a lot about you and your brand. As a rule, it’s ‘evergreen’ in nature (i.e. it won’t date quickly) and seeks to provide lots of value for the intended audience. THINK: downloadable PDF ebook, special report or whitepaper, professionally produced book, package of high value videos (or audio content), templates, checklists and cheat-sheets, archived webinars, online tutorials etc.
Recurring sub-branded content properties
This is content packaged up under its own name (i.e. sub-branded) and produced regularly so it becomes it a standalone content property in its own right. THINK: a podcast via iTunes, an online video show on YouTube (such as OpenCorp’s Property WODs), or a series of specific articles or blog posts (i.e. The ID Group’s Talking Content Marketing interview series).
Day-to-day ‘presence’ content
This is content that’s designed to keep your brand visible and relevant on a ‘day to day’ basis, includes blog posts and social media ‘micro content’ e.g. news, commentary on trends and issues of the day, how-to articles, quotes, infographics, quick-hit video live-streams, SlideShare presentations etc, plus the judicious sharing of links to other people’s content.
We live in exciting times
Every business today has the opportunity to become its own media channel, to leverage the power of their online publishing platforms to create and distribute meaningful content that provides value for their audience, and in turn helps build brand visibility, credibility, influence and trust.
Best-selling author Anthony Robbins once wrote:
We are drowning in information, but we’re starving for wisdom.
Don’t just add to the noise. Provide the wisdom, insights, knowledge and ideas that will help make your audience’s world a better place.