Thinking Differently About Content

Think Different sign with clouds and sky background5 Fresh New Approaches to Content Marketing

Last Thursday evening I was conducting a workshop in Columbus, Ohio, when I was asked two excellent questions about content marketing:

  • People don’t want to hear from a roofing company every day. So how do you produce fresh and interesting content for social media that goes beyond your core services (roofing, automotive, plumbing, landscaping, etc.) and yet ties back to your business?
  • Can you extend your social media presence and content to include personal things (like your hobbies) and how does that affect your overall business image?

 

The workshop attendee who asked the first question was right.  Almost no one wants to hear from any company every day…especially if all the content is about products and services…and yes, even if they’re giving helpful tips and information.  Does that mean you should stop producing excellent daily content related to your business?  No, of course not!  Content is created for two reasons.  First, to provide knowledge, expertise and even entertainment to your ideal customers in order to achieve top of mind awareness as an authority in your industry.  And second, to produce SEO-rich results that keep you at the top of search engines.  You must strike a balance between the two, and try to include content that draws people in by being super interesting and entertaining….and yes, sometimes personal. That’s why the BrandFace concept works so beautifully when properly executed.

As an example, I’ve worked with Ron Greenbaum (The Basement Doctor) in the Columbus, Ohio market on various projects for about four years.   Ron runs the most successful basement waterproofing and foundation repair company in Central Ohio, and has achieved unparalleled local celebrity status.  I have been witness to the impact of that on more than one occasion.  One of Ron’s passions is helping animals by supporting the humane society and other animal rescue programs. I have been at lunch or an event with him in the past when he was approached by someone who just wanted to say ‘thank you’ for what he does for animals.  And that’s only one of his philanthropic initiatives.  The importance of that goes beyond that moment.  They connect and identify with him as a person.  They feel like they already know him, and can’t wait to tell their friends when they meet him in person.  Then that feeling is extended to his company brand.  When his employees show up at their home, they feel like they’re opening the door to a friend of the family.  That’s a sign of a really strong brand that weaves both professional and personal into the mix.

To help answer those content questions above, here are five different types of content (beyond the traditional stuff) that can give your brand a fresh, unique and balanced approach:

Philanthropic:  Your community efforts say a lot about who you are and people will make an extra effort to do business with you as a result of this connection.  I’ve consulted business owners who are very hesitant to promote these efforts because they don’t want it to seem as though they are exploiting the charities and organizations—and most especially because they don’t do it for the promotion.  They do it to give back.  I ask you to keep this in mind.  Nonprofit and charitable organizations very often have small marketing budgets.  Not only do they rely on outside marketing forces to promote their initiatives, they would likely have to close their doors without it.  That means that when a BrandFace promotes them, it’s a highly trusted and personal connection, and you can’t buy that kind of support.  In other words, they not only need you to promote them, theywant you to promote them.  But your instincts are correct.  It’s not about you. So just make sure your entire content focuses on the organization you’re helping, what they do for the community and how others can join in the cause.  Then it becomes a huge win for all.

Hobbies:  You bungee jumped from four of the tallest bridges in the U.S.  In your spare time, you go fly fishing.  You love playing chef and use only locally grown, organic foods.  Your friends are always begging you to go to Vegas with your card shark talents.  You’ve done mission work in Africa and would like to start your own group.  You almost played professional baseball.  You have an insane talent for gardening design or bass guitar.  You train and show Great Danes.  Your family works at a soup kitchen once a month.  Ok…you get the picture.  And two more words.  Reality TV.  People are interesting…and people are interested in interesting people.  We remember others based on these unique traits.  And most of all, people love the story behind the face.

Creative Connection:  Ah, this one is perhaps my favorite.  While I can’t imagine seeing something come across my news feed from a landscaping company every day, imagine this with me for a moment.  What are we always told to remember in this hectic world?  Stop and smell the roses, right?  So what if…a landscaping company posted a beautiful flower each day, just to remind you to ‘stop and smell the roses’.  And at the bottom of that photo (small print), you included the type of flower and type of environment needed to make it flourish (moist soil, full sun, etc.).  And then, of course, watermarked it with your logo….and a title like, “Sam’s Daily Reminder:  It’s Time to Stop & Smell the Roses”.  You could even include some great, thought-provoking quotes. It has the personal connection (Sam), the business connection (flowers & logo watermark) and a cool creative connector (pause the meetings and paperwork to take a moment and appreciate life by noticing this beautiful flower).  This is a great idea for staying ‘top of mind’ and connecting business with the kind of creative messaging people wouldn’t mind seeing every day.  I have tons more of these ideas.

Experiences:  This one is similar to hobbies from the personal aspect, but instead of something that identifies us like our hobbies, our experiences are random happenings that can have great interest and meaning to our audience.  For instance, one of my most popular blog posts recently was one titled ‘Strangest Branding Conversation Ever’.  It was about an experience I had with my Dad while he was visiting me from North Georgia.  Whether you have a unique experience buying a new car or a fateful conversation with a stranger in the airport, if you feel it ties into a life lesson or business lesson you’d like to share, by all means do.  You’ll see how I balanced both in that post.  The lesson for a BrandFace is to keep your radar up 24/7.  Any experiences you have which relate to your ideal customer are an opportunity to connect beyond the business world.  And when we do that, we become a part of the family.

Influencers:  “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future”.  You’ve probably heard that saying, and the same is true whether you are a teenager or a business owner.  Maybe you’ve learned a lot of your business knowledge from Bill Gates, Donald Trump or Warren Buffet…or you like to quote Benjamin Franklin.  Perhaps you have some mentors you’d like to recognize and tell why they’re important to you.  Sharing the people and things that influence us is what makes us human.  No matter how successful your business, you didn’t get there alone.  People and circumstances shaped you along the way.  I know that’s true for me.  And I shared this in another recent blog post called, ‘Gratitude Knows No Season’.  Recognizing others for their contribution in our lives, large or small, is important in staying connected…and grounded.

I hope these five types of content help you to put a fresh spin on what you share with your audience, whether personal or professional.  I happen to believe you must have the combination of both to build an incredible brand.

 

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