Like it or loathe it, social media has changed marketing as we once knew it. Today, it has become much more challenging for marketers to reach out to consumers via traditional marketing measures. Advertisements and aggressive sales messages alone can no longer convince consumers. Instead, businesses need to create and distribute relevant and valuable content to engage with consumers and influence their spending power and buying habits.
It is therefore no surprize that more and more businesses are leveraging their content to build brand equity. But before getting into how your content can help you build brand equity, let’s take a look at what it is all about.
Brand Equity – A Big Marketing Buzzword
Every business, large or small, seems to understand the significance of brand equity, although not many of them can define the idea properly. In fact, there are more definitions of brand equity than the number of brands trying to build it. But keeping marketing part aside, brand equity is simple; it is how people see your brand. How they recognize you? What makes you different from the others?
In its essence, brand equity is all about how people feel about you and your products/services. It is built on the customers’ repeated experiences with your business, which in turn, create your brand value. The more they like your brand, the better your brand equity.
It also creates loyalty, something that motivates your existing customers to recommend your brand to others. And this is exactly why everyone wants to build brand equity. But when you are on your way to build brand equity, remember you are more likely to compete with global icons and not just your peer set.
You will therefore need a strategic plan to position yourself properly in the marketplace. But the good news is, there are various ways to do that. And in most cases, content lies at the heart of it. What you need is compelling content to engage your customers, enhancing their brand experience. Focus your content on your customers’ need; after all it is the customers who build brands and not companies.
How Content Helps in Building Brand Equity
As mentioned, your content plays a great role in building your brand value. For example, it helps you improve SEO, tell your brand story, attract the attention of the right people, position yourself as a thought leader and so on. Done rightly, your content can help you benefit from word of mouth marketing by aligning your customers with your strategy and encouraging them to tell the same story.
Here are 3 ways your content can help you build brand equity.
1. Bring Your Brand Story to Life
All businesses have a story to share; a story that is imbued with emotion and helps you to connect with the people. In fact, brand storytelling is one of the hottest content marketing trends these days as it doesn’t require a lot of money but the right amount of imagination and creativity combined with your company’s founding insight. It can be anything from a big product breakthrough to a simple customer service story – as long as you have something compelling to tell, people are going to listen.
The Kickstarter campaign of Zack Danger Brown is perhaps the perfect example, when it comes to explaining the power of storytelling. Zack Brown started the campaign to raise $10 to make a potato salad. It was only a joke between Brown and his friends but it became an international story when the campaign ended up making $55,492 within a month. People contributed to this potato salad campaign just because the story was presented in such a way that everyone could relate to it and wanted to be a part of Zack Brown’s story.
What Zack Brown did that is very simple; he expressed his desire through a story. And he is not alone, many other brands (both large and small) are doing the same thing. A small Boston-based restaurant chain called B.Good, for example, tells real food story of the real people that others can relate to.
NetFlorist recently ran a targeted online campaign on sites popular among men to persuade them to send more flowers to their wives and girlfriends. The campaign was called ‘HappyCam’ and the message was – If you could see what we see, you’d send more flowers.
So they did exactly that. They showed men how their loved one reacted when they received the flowers. Their delivery men were fitted with cameras so the reaction from wives / girlfriends could be filmed.
This campaign was hugely popular in South Africa and it clearly shows that if you can make your customers a part of a story, it pays.
If you too want to leverage storytelling just like these brands, you need to bring it to life. Also, make sure your story aligns with your corporate identity. It must reveal the best truth about your brand so that people start trusting you.
2. Earning Trust and Building Loyalty
You can never build brand equity without earning the trust of the people. But the question is: How to earn trust? Content is your best bet here. Writing insightful, valuable and relevant articles and blog posts with your name on it can take you a long way in establishing yourself as an industry leader. The more people come across your content that they find helpful, the more they will learn to trust you.
But don’t limit yourself to blog posts and articles. Invest your time and effort in developing video tutorials, how-tos, insightful infographics, provoking social media posts and more. In short, focus on creating content that makes the life of your customers 100x better.
If used rightly, your content marketing can become your new sales strategy. But remember, your content marketing is not about you. Rather, it is about the customers you are serving. What interest them? What kind of information are they looking for? Your content must benefit them and if you can do it, you will earn your customers’ trust and loyalty in no time.
Such content marketing strategy only marks the beginning of a long term relationship. When you create content that interests your target audience on a regular basis, they keep coming back to your brand for more and this, in turn, builds loyalty.
Better yet, these people voluntarily share your content on their social profile, helping you to expand your market reach by means of word-of-mouth marketing.
3. Establishing Your Thought Leadership
By now you must have already understood that content is the key to communicate your brand’s value. But it can do more than that. For one thing, content can help you establish yourself as a thought leader in your particular industry. You will however need a proper strategy for that. For example, it is not enough to just plan topics and distribute them. Your ideas must evolve to address the needs of your more demanding audience.
If you are to believe Michael Brenner, CEO, Marketing Insider Group and former VP of Marketing and Content Strategy at SAP, “thought leadership is simply about becoming an authority on relevant topics by delivering the answers to the biggest questions on the minds of your target audience.” Authenticity is therefore the key here.
You need to be accurate and genuine in your approach. This means no half-baked content as it will do you more harm than establishing you as an authority in your field.
A better approach is to do your background research and gather the necessary knowledge purposeful and practical advice to your target audience. In doing so, you will not only build trust and long term relationship but also influence their purchase decisions.
However, it is not enough for your content to just address your customers’ pain points. It must also demonstrate your knowledge and expertise of said points. What we are talking about is informed, creative content that motivates people to think out of the box.
You need to understand one thing here. The Internet is already clogged with blog posts, white-papers, case studies, e-books and so on. Your competitors too are probably trying to establish themselves as thought leaders. You will therefore need to stand out in the crowd and it is your content that can help you go a step further.
Say something that others haven’t, yet. Most importantly, focus on creating more original content that truly talks about your customers’ pain points.
When it comes to creating content that helps you build brand equity, there is no shortcut. You must be ready to put in the required time and effort and also willing to learn and solve your customers’ pain points. The focus need to be on creating more meaningful content that your customers find valuable and compelling. And for that, you need to tell a better story, which in turn, helps you build value into your brand.
Pratik Dholakiya is the Founder of Preceptist, a content marketing agency for SaaS businesses.