Two Ways to Start a Conversation with Your Content

Your brand’s role in your content marketing strategy is no longer a blatant “call to buy” or visual homage to the company’s image; it is a conversation starter.

Long gone are the days of interruption marketing and calling attention to product features and customer benefits. Branded content, in terms of ads that focus and draw attention to logos and coordinate with your brand’s color scheme, are no longer desirable.

With today’s savvy consumers, your brand’s role must become muted and resourceful. Engaging content is now seen as a leading form of advertising. For example, Target’s new Chief Marketer, Jeff Jones, said: “The lines between products, services and marketing continue to blur. We will keep pushing ourselves to think in terms of content, not just campaigns.”

Engaging and relevant content is also recognized as an effective sales tool. While brainstorming new ideas for content and marketing initiatives, you no longer have to worry about keeping in line with typical color schemes and brand guides. What really matters is the power of audience engagement.

The endless entertainment options presented by the Internet create a need for content marketing initiatives to be out-of-the-ordinary, thoughtful, and most importantly, useful. Excuse me for being blunt, but it’s time to chuck the brand guidelines out the window and start focusing on other ways to build your brand through content marketing.

But how do you maintain brand awareness while creating something that is highly shareable and makes the audience look past the fact that the content they are interacting with was created for marketing purposes? That’s the key to marketing, isn’t it? Influencing people without making them feel as though they’re being influenced. Marketers strive for this delicate balance every day. Become the reader’s ally, letting him know you understand what he’s trying to do, rather than just posing the question.

Want to create content that is remarkable, without losing your company’s traditional trademark and brand presence? Try these two tips. 

Present Something Out Of The Ordinary

“Branding is more than a logo or tagline.” – Frank Strong from Copyblogger

Listen to Frank’s advice and be mindful of your audience when brainstorming your next masterpiece. To make your content stands out from the rest, aim to create something that is unexpected and makes the audience want to know who created it.

One example of capturing attention with useful or entertaining content rather than a giant display of a company’s logo is a piece created for HSN titled “The Secrets of Beauty Revealed by the Internet.” The goal with this content was to direct additional organic traffic to HSN’s Beauty Department, and to strengthen the HSN brand with our content.

Rather than creating the predictable visualization like the advertorials or sponsored articles you typically see when flipping through a magazine that lists all the makeup products carried by a company, we chose to take a more unexpected angle. This is what we came up with:

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Notice the infographic does not include any mention of makeup brands carried by HSN. Instead, it makes a personal connection with the readers by focusing on a beauty topic we all can relate to — the perception of beauty as seen through the eyes of the Internet. If we were to create an infographic that included the traditional HSN font and a color scheme centered around the HSN logo, the design would detract from the purpose of being an informative piece of content, and would instead scream “I’m an advertisement for HSN.”

Rather than at the very top or smack in the middle, the HSN logo is tastefully added towards the bottom of the infographic. The branding did not take away from the purpose of the content, which was to inform the audience of what our online behavior tells us about our perception of beauty and its role in American society.

Be a Resource, Not an Advertorial

Advertorials are highly disregarded. Your audience will see straight through content that pushes a product and is branded to a T. Going hand-in-hand with presenting something out of the ordinary, I like to think of it as an “added bonus” when you create a piece of content that serves a purpose.

We like to practice what we preach, so when it comes to our own content, you’ll never see BlueGlass crank out an infographic that doesn’t serve a purpose. A favorite of mine is one we created on the topic of Google’s Author Rank.

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Surely, you’ve heard of the huge impact Author Rank is predicted to have on SEO this year. Since most of our audience is interested in SEO and how they can tap into new tactics that will make their content stand out in the SERPs, we set out to create an all-encompassing guide on why and how you should use rel=author.

More importantly, we did this as Author Rank was on the verge of becoming a mainstream media topic. By releasing this informational piece when we did, we reinforced our position in the market as industry leaders ahead of the trends, which is how our audience wants to see us.

While this one was a little more branded than the content we produce for our clients, it was still a successful piece because it served as a conversation starter. If you look at the comments the piece generated, you’ll notice it inspired readers to pay more attention to their Google+ profiles and ask for more tips and suggestions related to SEO and Author Rank.

How to Thrive

If your brand is going to thrive in the world of content marketing, it must have a real personality. Break out of the traditional brand message and tap into the emotions of your audience. At the end of the day, a valuable resource or engaging piece of content is going to provide much more “stickiness” to your brand than an advertorial that tries to sell a product.

As a content marketer, you know the benefit of this practice is retained reader attention and increased engagement through remarkable content. Let’s stick to the basics of content marketing and remember that branding comes last when fulfilling the goal of creating something out of the ordinary that is useful, timely, and worth sharing.

Tell me what engaging piece of content caught your eye, and why. Please share in the comments below!

Continued - 

Two Ways to Start a Conversation with Your Content

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