Your content marketing efforts can either accelerate your growth, or they can be part of what causing consumers’ collective eyes to glaze over whenthey come across your credit union’s or bank’s content, ads, or other digital marketing. However, if you understand that how to win at content marketing can start with three foundational ideas, you're on your way to success.
HOW TO WIN AT CONTENT MARKETING: BE CLEAR ABOUT YOUR COMPETITION
You’re competing not only against other banks and credit unions; but you’re also vying for eyeballs alongside every other individual, celebrity, and business posting on whatever platform(s) you’re on.
[bctt tweet="You’re competing not only against other financial institutions; but you’re also vying for eyeballs alongside every other individual, celebrity, and business posting on whatever platform(s) you’re on. #contentmarketing #socialmedia" username="mattmonge"]
Consider Meowington's, one of the most-shared pages on Facebook, whose purpose is "Keeping all de hoomins up to dait wit all de latest kitteh skoops one kitteh posts at a time." They do so with a mix of candid shots like this...
...and other photos like this. You and I may not get it, but their online community (read: target market) sure does. And that's what counts.
Or like Tasty, from Buzzfeed. Pancake toppings three ways in 15 minutes or less.
Now, if you ask me, I'm not sure I'm taking pancake recipe advice from a talking gecko; but again, you can't argue with their results. They've found their online community, and what they do resonates there.
That means that post about your shred day? Yep, we’re hoping that Person A stops scrolling and checks it out instead of that video just below it with not only several hundred or even thousand views, but also dozens of likes and comments from Person A’s friends. In fact, the reason Person A is seeing that video in the first place is because one of their friends shared it.
HOW TO WIN AT CONTENT MARKETING: BE COMPELLING WITH YOUR BRAND'S PERSONALITY
Unique brands and their personalities stand out in sea of relative sameness. It’s that simple. A unique brand and compelling content are two of the only ways to stand out in a crowded market.
If you and I walked into a simple room with four, white walls, our eyes would immediately be drawn to the one wall in the room with a splash of red paint on it. That’s because our minds are wired to notice things that are different from—not the same as—other things. It's called visual salience.
The same rings true with brands and their content, whether that's on Facebook, Instagram, or anywhere else.
The Importance of Standing Out
Think about it. When you—yes, you—are online scrolling mindlessly, what is it that stops you? Is it because something doesn’t stand out?
Something draws your attention. For one reason or another, a piece of content commands your attention. It compels you. It draws you in.
Perhaps it’s a bold combination of colors and typefaces, or maybe it’s a subtle play on words that you nearly scrolled past before doing a double-take, a wry grin creeping across your face.
It might be a post with which you vehemently disagree.
Maybe it's a post representing a cause to which you want to lend your support by way of a comment or like.
It could be a Facebook page or group that posts articles that provide a particular sort of insight or style that you can’t seem to find anywhere else. You find yourself either challenged or nodding in agreement every time you read their stuff.
Whatever the case is, ask yourself if your brand does the same to folks who don't work inside your organization. When they're scrolling, do they see something so unique, so interesting, so compelling that they have to stop because it's something that only you can give them in a way only you can give it?
HOW TO WIN AT CONTENT MARKETING:BE COMMITTED TO NOT BEING TOO CAUTIOUS
Ever walked around a hotel?
Sure you have.
Remember much about it? As in, do you remember the art? On the walls?
Nope. And that’s on purpose.
They’re anything but memorable, and they're anything but objectionable. No one’s going to call any Holiday Inn Express HQ Hotline complaining about the art they saw.
The surest way to avoid any static—any blowback—from anyone, anywhere, is to post the blandest content imaginable, right?
It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes; it's from Elbert Hubbard.
To escape criticism, say nothing, be nothing, do nothing. - Elbert Hubbard
Smiling faces and kids and puppies and no discernible brand personality will keep us all out of trouble, no? Yes, maybe so.
It will also keep us from building any sort of real fan base.
You see, people aren't fans of nothing. People are fans of…something. Stripping a brand of any discernible or distinguishing elements leaves it…empty. There’s nothing for people to get attached to. They can’t be fans of nothing. Sure, they can “follow” a page and “like” posts. But I’m talking about a cult following. Rabid fans.
[bctt tweet="To escape criticism, say nothing, be nothing, do nothing. - Elbert Hubbard #branding #contentmarketing #brandstrategy" username="mattmonge"]
It’s not because they play it safe, and it’s not because they play to the widest audience possible. It’s because they’re so very Wendy’s all the time.
BONUS CONTENT STRATEGY TIP! FOCUS ON YOUR FANS
Any time you do or make anything remotely unique, it’s going to make some sort of impression, one way or another; as a result, people will have opinions, and that's OK. If your brand doesn’t make an impression, you run the risk of being ignored altogether (more on this in a second).
Brands with passionate fan bases will also invariably have detractors as a result. That's just how it works when you stand for something.
Some people love Apple. Others hate it.
Some people love the Yankees. Others hate ’em.
Some people love the Red Sox. Others hate ’em.
The previous two groups are mutually exclusive. If you do not believe me, try telling someone who belongs to either group that you can belong to both.
Some people love the Chicago Cubs. Other people love to win the World Series more than once a century. (I say this tongue-in-cheek as a lifelong, die-hard Chicago Cubs fan who has a picture of Wrigley Field in his office, still has a binder full of Ryne Sandberg baseball cards, and who may or may not have developed sudden onset allergies when they won the Series in 2016.)
Some people love Tom Brady. Other people are good people. (Cut me some slack; I’m from Kansas City.)
Some people need more Fox News in their lives. Other people need more MSNBC in their lives. Most of us probably just need more fresh air and critical thinking skills in our lives.
Oooooohhhhhh. See? That did something to some of you. That’s what brands can do. Make you feel something. (And I hope you know I said what I did all in good fun to make the point.)
And some of you need a hug after that news channel example.
The point is this. Any time you carve out a compelling, unique brand identity and personality and then execute on that, there is at least one certainty.
Some people will like it. Other people will not.
Let that sink in.
It is certain, and it is OK.
The Necessity of Clarifying Your Cause and Mastering Your Message
It's worth mentioning here the critical importance of clarifying your cause (purpose) and mastering your message.
The reason we partner with so many amazing folks across the country to do things like our proprietary marketing assessments, for example, is because we understand how important it is that your marketing make its mark.
Having your brand identity and content strategy anchored in your brand's story—who you are and what you’re about—will help you attract the community of people you’re wanting to attract. (And it's not just us who think this story thing has something to it, by the way.)
And sure, you’re absolutely going to have folks here and there who may think you should have gone with a less-modern carpet pattern in your lobbies. Or something.
If you spend your time, energy, and bandwidth attempting to pacify those folks, you’ll find yourself constantly tugging the brand back and forth. Then sideways. (Because even those folks bringing up the things they don’t like won’t even have a unified opinion, mind you.)
Now, I’m not saying to disregard how members experience the brand. The opposite is actually true. I advocate for comprehensive, holistic approaches to experience strategies that span the consumer, digital, employee, and brand spaces.
What I am saying is this. Marketers, creators, and leaders, navigate your collective ships toward that North Star and then stay the course. It would be unwise to steer away from the North Star because a few, dissatisfied folks complained about how bright it was compared to the rest of the night sky.
[bctt tweet="It would be unwise to steer away from the North Star because a few, dissatisfied folks complained about how bright it was compared to the rest of the night sky. #brandstrategy #contentmarketing" username="mattmonge"]
If you've clarified your cause and mastered your message, then stay the course. It will help you win at content marketing.
Here's What You Should Do Right After You Finish Reading This Next Paragraph
Anything come to mind as something you're going to plug in? Drop a quick Yes in the comments below and share what that thing is. We learn more when we learn from each other.
Take a look at your brand and its/your content. Are you clear about your competition? Does your content have a compelling brand personality? Are you committed to not playing it too safe? Want an extra set of eyes to help answer those questions? Drop me a line.