Don’t Publish Content Unless You Do This First

If you’re using content to market your business to consumers, you’re part of a growing trend.

Business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers are now allocating 32 percent of their total marketing budgets to content marketing efforts, up from 25 percent last year, according to a survey by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs.

But simply throwing content at your audience is a waste of resources. When it comes to content marketing, surprisingly, content shouldn’t come first.

Instead, before you ever start producing articles, videos or other content, you need to develop your brand and strategy. When you take time to create a viable brand with your target audience in mind, you and your team will have a clear understanding of exactly what you’re selling, who you’re selling to, and how it will benefit them.

To develop effective branding, you’ll need to research your potential customer base and your competition. (Ad4! does this with tools like focus groups, surveys, interviews, industry research and competitive analysis.) Think about how you want your target audience to feel about your company—those emotions will become synonymous with your brand in their minds.


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With your research and goals in hand, you’re ready to build your brand, including these components:

  • Brand promise. This is the expectation your customer has of what they will get from your brand. The brand promise may take time to develop in the mind of the consumer, but you and your team should have a clear understanding of what you’re promising to deliver. For instance, every time you eat at McDonald’s, no matter where you are, you expect that the fries will be hot and salty. That’s part of the brand promise.
  • Positioning statement. Like a thesis statement in a term paper, your brand’s positioning statement is focused and succinct. It briefly describes your product or service’s unique value to your target audience. When you get the positioning statement right, it can inform the rest of your branding efforts and ongoing content strategy.
  • Unique selling proposition. Your brand’s unique selling proposition describes what sets it apart from the competition. How is your product or service different? How does it better serve your ideal customers? Why do (or should) customers switch from another provider to your brand? The answers to these questions can help you formulate a unique selling proposition.

Only after you’ve established a solid brand are you ready to begin thinking about content. Your branding efforts can serve as a lighthouse, guiding your content marketing to ensure that it will be effective. For help with branding strategy or content marketing, contact Ad4!


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Meet the Author

A freelance journalist and content writer since 2001, Nancy Mann Jackson writes regularly about technology, finance, education, HR and other topics. In addition to writing for various brands, her work has been published in outlets like CNBC.com, Fortune.com, Entrepreneur, Working Mother, CNNMoney.com and DailyWorth.com. Learn more about her at www.nancyjackson.com.

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