It’s no secret that today’s consumers tend to reject traditional marketing. Think about it: we’ve figured out a way to dodge television advertisements, avoid radio jingles, screen telemarketer calls, configure pop-up blockers, and instantly direct all promotional emails to our trash folders.
In a world where consumers are blind to the vast majority of marketing messages pushed on them every day, how can companies stand out from all the noise? The key is content marketing. And the basis of content marketing is just good storytelling. Whatever your business, telling a story through excellent content is your best opportunity to stand out among competitors and build a strong reputation, a loyal fan base, and the kind of authority signals that search engines like Google and Bing reward.
First, start by telling your own story. It can be a story about you versus your competition—a story of right vs. wrong, good vs. evil, us vs. them. These are the kinds of stories people can relate to. Define what is wrong with the status quo and explain how your company plans to fix it. (And preferably how the world will be a better place once it is fixed; everyone loves a happy ending.)
Consider the super brand that released its first personal computer back in 1984. Before Apple was the leader of the personal computing market, the company told a story of rebellious heroes versus the establishment. They had a vision that told a story of changing the world and advancing humankind, a tale that truly resonated with their audience.
The first step in telling your story is to establish (and publicly share) your company values. These are the reasons you’re in business to do what you do. Your values are most likely already driving your business decisions but chances are you haven’t written them down and posted them for all to see.
Here’s an exercise to get you thinking about your company values:
- Think about your products and services
- Now, translate them into clear benefits for your customers. (e.g., how does your widget make life better for your customer?)
- Which benefits are truly unique to your company and set you apart from your competitors?
- For each unique benefit, list a reason as to why it’s important to the work you do and how it relates to the values of your company. (i.e., why does it matter to you if your customer’s life is better?)
Now that you’ve clearly articulated your company values and identified how your customers benefit from these values, share them with your audience! Add them to your website, include them on your Facebook, tweet about them, create a YouTube video, etc. Just make sure your audience knows what your values are and how they affect your business decisions.
If you’re looking for tips on how to showcase your values, take a look at Moz’s TAGFEE code. Moz puts it all out there by stating, “We acknowledge that we are entirely responsible for our own reputation, the level of success we achieve, the brand image we create, and the contributions we make to the marketing industry. They're all a direct reflection of our mission to be as Transparent, Authentic, Generous, Fun, Empathetic, and Exceptional as possible.”
When you open up about why you are in business and why you do things the way you do, your target audience recognizes shared beliefs and, in subtle ways, your company values and vision become their own. But remember, if you want your audience to stay invested and engaged with your company, you have to actually live by your values and consider them in every company decision, every day.