Content marketing has risen to the top of most CMOs mind, thanks to the fragmentation of the media landscape, social media and the ability for consumers to devour content anywhere and on a variety of devices.
While much focus has been given to developing a content strategy (think paid, owned, earned media), most brands are getting it wrong when it comes to content.
Today’s consumers are more connected to one another, have unlimited options to find out about your product through content not produced by you, and are less inclined than ever to listen to what marketers traditionally think of as a “message.”
Borrowing from literature, marketers need to find a point of view for their brand.
Much more than first, second or third person perspective we might recall from high school English, a point of view is the particular way that an individual (or group) looks at situations. It is not enough for a brand to generate and promote content; you need to infuse that content with a personality, authenticity and a perspective consumers can engage with.
For the purposes of a marketer, a point of view is the stance you take on the issues and topics that affect your industry, but most importantly, your customers (because not every issue your customers face has to do with your company or product).
A POV creates a framework for a broader conversation around a series of topics and data that help shape your brand in the eyes of your customer.
Your POV provides your customer with an idea of what you believe in, what you stand for, what matters. This gives them something more tangible to respond to and helps a customer to feel as if they they “know” your company rather than understand your message.
PR, social, demand gen, customer relations and other marketing disciplines can all operate within your POV and help you to generate content from your CEO down to your customer service rep.
If this sounds esoteric, hang in there.
Do you have a POV?
To help infuse your content marketing with a POV, consider these guidelines.
1. Stop talking about yourself.
Can you remember the last time you were enthralled just listening to someone talk about themselves? No? Your customers aren’t interested either.
Instead, work to present them with information and content that is relevant to them and what they do. A good rule of thumb is 90% content about them and 10% or less about you. If you are viewed as a source of interesting and relevant information, your customers are more likely to listen every now and again when you talk about your company or products.
2. Look for the broader conversation.
The foundation of your POV is your perspective on issues that are relevant (and entertaining) to your customers. Look for the larger set of topics and write about those, not your products.
Some brands have taken this to heart developing a point of view that is fresh, unique and engaging to their customers. For example, rather than talk about accounting software, Intuit creates content on how to run a successful small business.
Trulia, a real estate search service, appeals to both consumers and real estate agents with novel geographic data about social trends and demographics, not just data on the ever-changing real estate market.
To help find your voice within your industry debate, ask yourself what is your knowledge powerhouse? Other than product expertise, what else do you have inside your walls that your customers can benefit from? What data do you sit on that might help produce fresh content? What content is interesting to your team? All of these questions can help you on your way to developing a POV.
3. Pick your battles.
Figuratively, of course. It’s important to have a strong perspective, but don’t pick battles that you don’t feel passionately about. The goal is not to be inflammatory but engaging. Brands that get overly political or take divisive stances within their industry often get punished. Remember that it’s important to be likable.
4. Participate authentically.
Nearly all companies have some sort of social strategy that involves creating and disseminating content, but most of those are not really engaging in the social debate.
Unmarketing author Scott Stratten put it well:
“Social media isn’t a new medium to try to push ineffective old marketing messages. It truly is a different world. People are there to build relationships, not buy your stuff (initially). Setting up an automated Twitter program to tweet for you and automatically add followers is a great way to say to people ‘We don’t actually care what you’re saying, just buy from us.’ It would be like sending a mannequin to a networking event with your company logo on it. Yeah, creepy.”
If your content marketing strategy only involves creating and promoting content, you are not going to win. You need to show up to the conversation your customers are having and participate authentically. Get out there and talk to people, comment on their content, respond to ongoing debates with your own (you guessed it) point of view.
5. Make it sharable.
In the end, a gut check is perhaps the best test of your point of view. As you review your editorial calendar, ask yourself, “Does this content serve me and my company or the reader?” If your answer isn’t unequivocally “the reader,” take another tack. Your customers will thank you for your authenticity with their sharing, their business and even their loyalty.