The biggest benefit of using content marketing is that it allows you to gradually build your brand and makes it easier for your prospective customers and clients to recall what product or service you provide in their hour of need.
Most of the businesses relate content marketing with improving search engine rankings and creating a vibrant social media presence. In itself it is not a misplaced priority, but it means under-utilizing the power of content marketing.
The greatest power of content marketing is building and strengthening your brand and make it more recognizable and relatable.
Why it is important to build your brand even if you are a small business
Brand building isn’t just for big businesses.
What is brand building? What is branding?
Branding is a mix of a message, an emotion, an experience and a memory that is immediately recalled when people come across your business name or your logo.
Your brand represents the entire essence of what you provide.
Even as a small business you want people to recognize you when they come across one of the entities that represent your business, whether it is your URL, your logo or your blog.
Your website faces lots of competition on the Internet. It is primarily because it is very easy to set up shop on the web. All you have to do is, register a domain name, set up a website, create the necessary pages and then start working at improving your search engine rankings and social media presence.
People who have money to spend can create and expand their online presence faster and those who don’t have money, can spend time and effort to achieve the same.
This makes it difficult for people to distinguish your business from other businesses.
Another problem is, you are not just competing with other businesses, you are also competing with other people to gain people’s attention.
If someone searches for a product or service that your business provides, it is not just businesses that appear in the search result pages, even the personal webpages and blog posts created by individuals show up in the search results that may end up confusing your prospective customers and clients.
This is why it is very important to create a very strong brand presence for yourself on the Internet so that people can immediately distinguish you from your competitors and from thousands of distractions that are constantly vying for the attention.
Using content marketing to build your brand
To build your brand using content marketing first of all you need to know what is content marketing?
Many people will say that content marketing means marketing your business on the Internet using your content. Theoretically this definition is correct. You ARE marketing your business using content instead of conventional advertising.
But it is more than that. More than marketing, you are creating a presence for yourself.
On the Internet it is all about creating a presence. People don’t like advertisements. In fact, the use mechanisms to avoid coming across advertisements.
Useful, educational content or the other hand, is appreciated.
Therefore, content marketing involves publishing lots of useful, relevant, entertaining and sometimes even controversial content to grab people’s attention and actively participate in a global conversation.
People on the Internet recognise you with the sort of help you provide them with their content. The biggest gripe people have with businesses is that it is very difficult to get help.
What does help me?
How to educate people with your content?
Take for example my own blog. Take for example this blog post. In this blog post telling you how to build your brand using content marketing.
You must have already known that you need to promote your business on the web in order to get business. You have always known that something is lacking and this is why your website is not generating the sort of business you deserve. Maybe you are not promoting enough? Maybe you’re not spending money on advertising? Even if you are spending money on advertising, maybe you’re targeting is not working. Or maybe the messaging is not working.
The thing is, you know that you need to make an effort.
Then suddenly you come across this blog post that tells you that you need to build your brand to get more business. How can you build your brand without spending a ton of money on advertising? This blog post tells you that you can build your brand with content marketing. There.
You have been educated.
Even if you have no idea how to build your brand without advertising, you at least know now that there is a concept called content marketing that can be used and it doesn’t even involve spending lots of money.
This is just one example of some sort of content being helpful.
An example from a bigger company could be the Open Forum from American Express. They have thousands of blog posts helping business managers and even small-business owners with premium business advice. Some of the blog posts are so insightful that you can get such help only from paid consultants. On Open Forum this premium advises available free of cost.
What is American Express trying to achieve? It is a financial services company after all.
When it provides free advice business executives, business managers and small business owners, it generates lots of good will.
There are different credit cards available in the market but there is a great possibility hat people who regularly use Open Forum go for an American Express credit card even when they can easily go for another credit card. Similarly, if the needs of financial services that are provided by American Express, they would rather get them from American Express then from another financial services company.
Aside from that there might be millions of customers who don’t know anything about American Express but to come to the Open Forum website for the wealth of information it contains. There, the find about the American Express financial services and since they already love the content on the website and they know who is providing the content, the go with American Express the next time they need such services.
This is one big example of building your brand with content marketing.
The relationship between familiarity and buying decision
If people are familiar with your brand they are more comfortable doing business with you.
There is a psychological concept called the “mere exposure effect“. According to this effect, people feel a preference for people or things (or businesses) because they are familiar with those people or things (or businesses). This is also called the familiarity principle.
Add to this the usefulness of your content and the effect is doubled. Now, people are not just familiar with your brand, they also find your brand useful.
Familiarity and likability breeds trust and trust is what is needed the most when doing business online. When you are selling products and services online, people to people interaction is almost missing. All you have is your content.
And the trust that you have built over time with helpful and educational content.
When people trust your brand, people not just buy from you, they buy more from you (source). They become loyal to you. They recommend your business to others.
So, whenever you think of content marketing visible your business, don’t just think in terms of increasing your search engine rankings for creating a constant buzz on Facebook and Twitter. It’s mostly about building your brand and creating a sustainable brand presence.