Combat Content Shock with These 5 Differentiation Tactics

How Content Marketers Can Rise Above the Noise

May 19, 2015

Now that content marketing is officially a mainstream tactic – nine out of ten organizations are marketing with content – brands are strategizing new ways to achieve visibility in a competitive environment.

As a marketer, you are tasked with delivering a distinctive brand experience with your content – one that cuts through the clutter and leaves a lasting impression. To help you attract (and keep) the attention of your audience in an increasingly crowded space, below are five content marketing differentiation tactics from the pros.

Five Content Marketing Differentiation Tactics From The Pros

1. Become the most transparent brand in your market

People find frank discussion from the brands they follow refreshing. To build trust with an audience, provide candid, aboveboard perspectives on critical industry topics. You can be most persuasive when you’re honest about important matters – including any challenges you face as an organization.

“Transparency is going to become the most important component of marketing,” Forbes contributor Daniel Newman suggests. “Rooting for transparency is another way of saying that brands who display honesty and truthfulness will earn the trust of their consumers.”

Brands can and should muster up the courage to talk openly about their commercial space – even if it means exposing opportunities for improvement. When you show you’re not sugarcoating, you can build credibility – especially when you invite others to join the discussion.

2. Create content for the social good

Companies should care. Not just about profits, but the social good, too.

That’s the takeaway from popular social media campaigns like Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches, which asks us to “Imagine a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety,” and the #LIKEAGIRL campaign, where the audience is encouraged to “champion girls’ confidence at always.com.”

People respond well to stories they can identify with, and marketers are tapping into the passion of social causes to deepen consumer relationships with their brands.

If you are thinking about championing a social cause in a social media campaign this year, using authenticity and relevance as your criteria is a great place to start. “”If we were to talk about any other subject that wasn’t related to what we actually do, then it wouldn’t hold… you would lack legitimacy,” says Andre Laurentino, creative director for the advertising group behind Dove's Real Beauty campaign.

Similarly, GE’s “First” series showcases company products while demonstrating their real-world benefits to underserved communities. In a video titled Kumiko’s First Ultrasound, a doctor is able to administer better prenatal healthcare on remote Japanese islands with a portable ultrasound device.

3. Achieve content authority by partnering with influential people in your industry

Every industry has its influencers, and tapping into the social reach and credibility of these influencers can be an efficient way to build your brand’s authority. Retailers, manufacturers, industry analysts, and professional consultants are all examples of influencers who can promote and advocate for your brand.

One fast-track to credibility with an influencer’s built-in audience is to co-create content. Jointly produced content enables you to convincingly engage new audiences. Here are some guidelines for co-creating content:

  • Establish clear and specific goals for the project, tying outcomes to business objectives
  • Determine which topics you’ll address and how industry issues will be framed
  • Distill and articulate the takeaway you want the audience to connect with
  • Establish what type of the content you’ll produce and the channels it will appear on
  • Define evaluation methods, such as the metrics you will use to determine success and areas for improvement

It’s also important to remember that your customers can serve as authentic and effective advocates. “Leveraging your brand’s influencers begins with building relationships with your customer,” Forbes contributor Kyle Wong says.

4. Create bigger, better, more relevant content

Brands are increasing the amount of content they produce, but more doesn’t necessarily mean better. Many organizations are failing to engage audiences because their content lacks either depth or relevance.

To remedy this problem, our own Jason Miller suggests creating “big rock” content to more effectively engage with your audience. A piece of big rock content can be a comprehensive guide, survey, analysis – whatever vehicle you want to use to deliver over-the-top value – that is a “stake-in-the-ground piece of content” that can be identified as “the definitive guide to a problem you solve for customers.”

When you create a piece of big rock content, you have a compelling resource that can be gated for lead capture. This content asset can also be repurposed as blog posts, infographics, SlideShare decks, webinars, and videos, which can fuel social demand for months.

5. Humanize your brand

While providing your audience with incisive insights and solutions is an admirable goal, to achieve maximum effectiveness, your content marketing strategy should account for the human component.

Today, more organizations are leaning on “brandividuals” to help audiences identify with their core narrative. Think of Moz’s Rand Fiskin or Cisco’s Tim Washer. High-profile executives, however, aren’t the only ones who can make a personal connection with your audience. Empowering employees to create content and share how they help to fulfill your brand's mission can remove the corporate nature of your messaging which audiences struggle to identify with.

“People connect to humans – not logos,” reminds Amy Jo Martin, CEO of Digital Royalty. “We focus on a company’s big idea but we need to focus on who is behind it and start telling that story.”

As prolific inventor Ben Franklin once said, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” How can you experiment with your branded content this year?

Ready to take intelligent risks to make your content stand out in 2015? Download our definitive guide & learn how to share relevant and targeted content to the world's professionals on LinkedIn.

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