Guest Post by Tom Whatley
Content marketing has grown and grown over the last 12 to 18 months, and when done right it can be a huge source of new traffic and leads.
This is great for attracting top-of-funnel traffic, but what about using content as a driver to build relationships with new clients? It’s an unconventional approach, but one we’re finding is working better and better.
There’s so much noise when it comes to content marketing these days that sometimes it’s instantaneously noticeable that you’re just trying to sell something. Which is why we encourage building an independent brand for your content marketing.
Having an independent brand with the sole mission of delivering true value upfront gives you instant authority. Your messaging is aligned with your own value proposition, but that’s not why the brand exists.
The reason this new brand exists is to help your target customer personas and audience overcome a big challenge of theirs. You’re there to help them overcome a pain or advance their businesses and lives in a way they’ve been struggling with.
So what does a value-driven, independent brand built on trust look like? There are several forms, and in this article I want to cover three that I think will work best for you.
Building an independent brand
There are no rules when it comes to building an independent brand for your content marketing, but there have been proven ways of doing it. I want to outline three ways you can do this yourself.
Let’s start with the road to the least commitment, and for me these are LinkedIn groups. These are super easy to set up and you likely already have an accessible audience for it.
Although LinkedIn groups have been around for some time, they’re still super useful to have. You can set up a new group named around a topic that’s relevant to your value proposition and use it as a platform for content and discussion.
Groups are easily accessible to your target customer personas and requires little investment to get involved, which has both advantages and disadvantages. If you’re looking for something that scales then groups are great, however if you need deeper, more intimate relationships this might not be the best way to go.
Next, you can create a new website independent of your marketing site. Brands are beginning to create or even buy publishing powerhouses these days, as content marketing becomes a more obvious marketing strategy.
Try setting up your own news site based around your market, customers or value proposition. It could be something as simple as a blog, or you could really amp things up and build a centre for news that rivals sites like Huffington Post and WIRED.
Finally, and this is one we’re very fond of, is creating a club around the message of your offering. These are positioned as exclusive inner circle that requires membership, and so allows you to build intimate relationships that we talked about before.
With a club, not only can you leverage content using the platforms above (LinkedIn groups and blogs), but you can bring people together in a face-to-face setting. The way that we usually do this is in the form of a dinner, bringing together people we really want to connect with into a face-to-face setting.
When doing this, have a chairperson who controls the direction of the discussion, which should be focused on a challenge that your target market is currently trying to overcome. Then, allow the attendees to get involved.
This is incredibly valuable for the type of people we invite to our dinners, which happen to be C-Suite executives, as it allows them to get out of their organisation and hear the perspectives of their peers.
However you decide to structure your platform, you’ve got to keep it separate from your brand. Now let’s cover the kind of content you should be creating.
What content should you create?
When people stumble upon your content, it’s because they’re interested in finding more about what you’re talking about, not because they want to know more about your product or solution.
We need to create content that will help boost the credibility your content has already established. This is done by using insights, statistics and facts. We do need to be creating true value, but you should also be making it easier for them to choose you as a vendor at the same time.
Do this by finding out as much as you can on a topic that the market is already talking about and create a unique angle around your proposition. This can take some time, but well worth it.
Try creating a story based on credible sources and insights straight from the market, and draw people in by addressing a specific need with absolute value.
Your story, as well as your insights, need to be different. As we said above, content is everywhere these days and to cut through the noise you need to stand out. You do this by going 110% with your content and being as unique as possible.
Are you bringing a new perspective to the table, or showing your audience a different way they could be doing things? Do this and you’ll gain the attention of your audience and build a new level of credibility.
We’ve barely touched the surface here, but hopefully I’ve given you some good ideas to start with. Positioning your content marketing in this way will put you well ahead of your competitors and allow you to better educate your audience.
If you’d like to learn more about the approaches in this article, you can download our free eBook to discover how to use this approach to deliver truly valuable content and get into a room with your target prospects.
As I said earlier in the article, there really are no rules when building an independent brand for your content marketing. Do what’s best for your business objectives, but whatever you do, ensure you deliver true value. Your customer personas should always come first.