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Brand Content Marketing 101: What It Is and Why Companies Should Use It

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Marketing is an essential part of business, but it requires agility to keep up. Even if you’re using your big marketing brain to create fabulous campaigns and killer advertising, you could still be missing out if you’re not open to new ways of connecting with prospects and staying ahead of the competition.

Inbound marketing is one example. By creating helpful content, companies set themselves apart as thought leaders and build trust before the selling process even starts. Twenty years ago, if you had told marketers this would be a “thing”, they would have laughed you out of the room.

Brand content marketing is another way companies can build awareness and trust. If you aren’t familiar with it, we’re going to break down the what, why, where, how, and when for you right here. Read on!

What We Mean by Brand Content Marketing

Branded content marketing is the practice of using content to tell a story that relates to your brand, your company’s values, and to help your audience understand what your company is all about (beyond your product or service). Brand content marketing differs from regular content marketing because it isn’t focused on a specific segment of buyers. It’s broader than that. And, unlike content marketing, brand content marketing aims higher than simply selling a product or service.

Here are the three ingredients of brand content marketing:

Hinges on storytelling.

Sharing your company’s core values is one thing, giving relatable examples of them in action is another. Interesting content that showcases who your company is, why you exist, and how you benefit the world helps positively engage your audience. AND, they may forget your product line, your pricing structure, and your delivery time, but they won’t forget a good, authentic story.

Evokes an emotional response.

While regular content marketing can educate and inform, it doesn’t typically elicit emotions from the audience. Pride, happiness, gratitude, hope, and inspiration are all positive emotions that, if your brand can connect with, strengthen your company dramatically. Brand content marketing can be leveraged to encourage the audience to make a change, act differently, and do what they can to make a difference.

Identifies with your targeted audience.

Creating real stories with true-life characters helps people connect with your brand that no amount of discounts or product features ever will. By crafting content around these people, you provide your audience a way to see themselves reflected in your story.

Why You Should Use Brand Content Marketing

There are many lucrative benefits companies enjoy from your brand content marketing efforts.

It makes your audience curious.

No company has ever said “I don’t want people to want to know more about us”. If your marketing strategy can inspire your audience’s curiosity, you’ve already succeeded at sticking in their minds and building a foundation of trust.

It can be used across different marketing channels.

You have a wider choice of distributing your brand content through many forms and channels. Blogs, eBooks, videos, podcasts, webinars, and events are a few of the many ways to tell your story. You can distribute your content through various social media channels, through emails, and from your website to reach as many people as possible.

It generates conversations.

Branded content is interesting and tries to get a response out of the viewer. Do it well, and it will spark emotions and responses from your audience. The goal is not to promote a product or service, but to tell the story of what your company is about, so it inspires conversations and relate-ability.

It focuses on your brand as a whole.

Instead of engaging with your brand because of your product or service, brand content marketing attempts to get your audience to engage with your company’s culture, mission, and “soul”.

Where Brand Content Marketing Fits into Your Marketing Plan

As with any addition to your marketing strategy, you want it to provide a strong return on investment (ROI). Using branded content will definitely do that if you plan and execute your initiative wisely. Three ways it fits into your marketing plan are:

 

As a broader concept.

As we said above, a branding process isn’t about a single, or even a group, of your products. It’s about why your company exists, what it stands for, and what it’s trying to accomplish. You don’t want to replace your other inbound marketing initiatives with brand content marketing; you want to do it alongside of your current strategy.

To create deeper connections.

Yes, solving a pain point for a customer through regular content is valuable, but helping them identify with your company’s heart and experience emotions toward your brand stays with them even longer.

To set you apart from your competitors.

Letting your audience get to know your company at a deeper level through authentic, character-driven storytelling creates emotions and drives actions. If your competitors aren’t promoting their brands this way, you’ll forge a distinct edge over your competition. (Insert maniacal laugh of pleasure here!)

How to Use Brand Content Marketing

Let’s look at a breakdown of getting started on a successful brand content marketing strategy. 

Partner with a marketing company.

A professional marketing firm that specializes in inbound marketing is your key to getting this project off the ground quickly, cost-effectively, and with few hiccups. They can help you create a powerful strategy and distribute your content widely, so your audience has the best chance of seeing and interacting with it.

Define your company’s brand.

If you haven’t already, you need to put into words what your company stands for. What makes your company’s heartbeat? This is an important step in brand content marketing because you need a crystal clear picture of your brand before you can accurately and successfully showcase it.

Define your goal.

What does success look like with this initiative? Is it to build loyalty? Expand your brand recognition? Tie your brand to an emotion? Decide what you want to accomplish with your branded content as early in the process as possible. Otherwise, you can veer off course and miss your mark.

Create powerful content.

Take time to think about the content you want to share. Find some good, true stories that translate into the goal you previously set. Your content can take many forms, whether written or video, long or short, funny, sad, or serious.

Note: Don’t get tempted to sneak in a selling point or product promotion.

Distribute your branded content.

The best content ever created won’t help your brand if nobody sees it. Plan to share your content widely through your company’s social media channels, on your website, through partners, and anywhere else you can think of. Getting the content out in the world is the key to getting people to react to it and remember it.

When You Should Measure Your Efforts

Measuring your marketing efforts is a crucial piece of the making sure the marketing machine is running at full capacity. Unfortunately, branded content marketing’s success is a bit challenging to measure. After all, you can probably track how many views it received, but did it reach the mark you were aiming for? Some ways to get an idea of the strategy’s success are:

Engagement rates.

Did people view, like, and comment on your content? If they did, then you can consider it a success. After all, your goal was built around greater brand recognition. A high engagement rate is evidence that your content evoked an emotional response and spurred people to connect with it.

Shares.

If your audience shared your content, this is a key metric telling you it was a success. While people may watch or even click “like” on content, they aren’t passionate about, they aren’t going to share it unless they identified with it.

Note: Review each content channel and see where it was shared most often. That gives you insight into where you may want to target future efforts.

Comparisons to other content.

Put your brand content marketing numbers up against your regular content marketing and see what the comparison tells you. Are they performing about the same? Is your brand content marketing pieces doing better, or worse? You should try hitting bigger numbers with your brand content marketing material, but you at least want them to be performing as well as your traditional pieces of content. If they’re falling short, dig into why and correct it. Maybe your content rings insincere? Or, could you be sharing it on the wrong channels? Don’t miss this step in your marketing strategy.

Conclusion

So now you have the what, why, where, how, and when of brand content marketing. There are tons of compelling benefits a well-planned brand marketing content strategy offers to an organization. Better organic reach, a wider range of brand recognition, greater trust, and stronger relationships are just a few. By leveraging your content to tell a powerful story, you can evoke audience emotion and connect with them on a deeper level than you can with traditional inbound marketing. So, jump in and see how your branding message can touch, inspire, and motivate others!