Content Marketing for Brand Building: The Essentials

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By Tomislav

Key Takeaways

Consumer-Centric Focus: Successful content marketing revolves around creating content that addresses consumer needs and problems.
Branding Over Sales: Effective content marketing often involves subtle branding, as demonstrated by John Deere’s “The Furrow” magazine, focusing on establishing thought leadership rather than direct product promotion.
Strategic Planning is Crucial: A solid content marketing strategy, including audience research, goal setting, budget allocation, and channel selection, is vital for success.
Content That Solves Problems: The core of content marketing is creating relevant, useful content that addresses audience pain points, without overtly focusing on sales.
Omnichannel and Repurposing Strategy: Employing an omnichannel approach and repurposing content across different platforms maximizes exposure and efficiency.
Engagement and SEO Balance: Actively engaging with audience comments and adhering to the 80:20 rule in SEO are essential for brand building and online visibility.
Flexibility and Analysis: Continuously analyze performance and be willing to adjust strategies for optimal results.

The Power of Content Marketing

Content marketing, when done right, is about creating consumer-centric content that drives positive business outcomes.

It’s about solving problems without immediate expectations, fostering positive consumer sentiment.

This strategy is effective across all audience segments and customer journey stages.

As long as the content is relevant and useful, content marketing can achieve any desired result.

Remarkably, content marketing can yield results without direct product or service promotion.

Take John Deere’s magazine, The Furrow, for example. Over its 120-year history, they’ve mentioned their company in only about 15-20 issues.

Their focus was on branding rather than immediate sales, establishing themselves as agriculture thought leaders.

This approach demonstrates the immense potential of content marketing.

Today, major brands are leveraging content marketing to boost brand awareness and reach.

Branded Content vs Content Marketing

Branded content and content marketing, though often confused, serve different purposes.

Branded content focuses on conveying a brand’s essence in an entertaining, sophisticated manner.

It’s a more refined marketing technique.

In contrast, content marketing involves practical, on-the-ground strategies.

Both are crucial in building a brand and enhancing brand awareness.

However, in this article, we focus on content marketing, leaving branded content for a separate discussion.

Let’s continue!

Create a Content Marketing Strategy

You certainly don’t want to leave your business’s success to chance, so a solid content marketing strategy is essential.

Surprisingly, 63% of businesses lack a documented strategy, indicating that many still underestimate content marketing’s importance.

Creating a strategy gives you an advantage over much of your competition.

Remember: Execution trumps planning. An elaborate strategy without quality, consistent content creation will likely fail.

When developing your strategy, consider the following steps:

1. Research Your Audience

Creating a buyer persona is crucial in guiding your content marketing efforts.

This fictional character embodies your ideal customer, helping tailor your strategy to their needs.

To understand your buyer persona, ask questions like:

  • Who is my target audience?
  • What is their age range?
  • What are their occupations?
  • What is their average income?
  • Where do they spend time online?
  • Where do they seek solutions online?
  • How much are they willing to spend on solutions?
  • What type of content do they prefer?
  • What influences their purchasing decisions?

The more you know your audience, the better you can identify their pain points related to your niche and product.

Understanding these points allows you to create relevant content that addresses their specific problems.

2. Setting Clear Content Marketing Goals

Your content marketing strategy should outline the expectations you have from your efforts.

Even with uncertainties, setting basic goals is crucial.

Goals keep you focused and aligned with your strategy.

Your goals can range from broad objectives like increasing brand awareness, educating customers, or recruiting talent to more specific tasks like publishing 10 blog articles, securing 5 backlinks, or writing 3 guest posts this month.

Whatever your goals, write them down and let them guide your content creation.

3. Allocating a Realistic Content Marketing Budget

Switching entirely from paid advertising to content marketing isn’t feasible, as content marketing is a long-term strategy without immediate ROI.

Set aside a budget that you can afford to “lose” without impacting your company’s stability.

This approach reduces tension between the CFO and content marketing team, allowing more focus on content creation without constant financial justification.

Be conservative with your initial budget to ensure it’s sustainable for your business.

As content marketing shows results, you can consider increasing the budget.

Data indicates that nearly 50% of businesses planned to boost their content marketing budgets next year.

4. Choosing the Right Content Marketing Channels

Your content publishing platforms should align with your consumer base’s online habits.

Here are some platforms that offer promising results:

  • Blogging: 82% of marketers who blog see positive ROI from their inbound marketing.
  • YouTube: 65% of viewers are likely to visit a marketer’s website after a brand-focused video.
  • Podcasting: 80% of listeners recall a brand advertised in a podcast.
  • LinkedIn: Preferred by 94% of B2B marketers for content distribution, and acclaimed as the most effective social media platform.
  • TikTok: Though still new to many marketers, its rapid growth and organic reach make it an intriguing option.

For individuals developing a personal brand, it’s crucial to choose your platforms wisely. Overextending can dilute your efforts.

Companies with a content marketing team might benefit from an omnichannel approach, maximizing brand exposure across various platforms.

5. Establishing a Consistent Publishing Schedule

Regularly publishing high-quality content significantly boosts brand building and awareness.

Implementing a publishing schedule is essential.

It’s flexible; you can adjust your content marketing strategy, including the schedule, as needed.

However, not having a schedule is a mistake.

A consistent publishing schedule showcases commitment and stability, enhancing your brand’s perception.

Create Content That Solves Problems

As soon as your content marketing strategy is set, it’s time to execute and create content.

However, creating content just for the sake of it won’t yield much success.

Your content needs to be relevant and solve problems for your audience.

Offering useful content for free, without expecting immediate monetary returns, maximizes the positive impact of content marketing.

It’s fine to sell, but only when it makes sense.

Being overly salesy can diminish the trust you’ve built through your quality content.

Remember, 91% of consumers appreciate and reward brand authenticity.

Avoid Making Your Brand the Superhero Every Time

Reflecting on the earlier John Deere example, your brand or product doesn’t always have to be the focal point of your content.

Consider this: John Deere’s The Furrow magazine mentioned their products only 15-20 times in 120 years.

So, you can certainly write an article without directly promoting a product, right?

Let your audience discover your offers naturally.

This builds trust, and establishes your expertise and thought leadership.

These qualities are crucial in brand building and have a less obvious, yet significant impact: expert-level content often attracts shares and backlinks.

This boosts your content in search rankings and drives more traffic.

Educational and informative content generally performs better among industry peers, while sales-oriented content tends to fare poorly.

After all, no one prefers to link or share overt sales pitches.

Maximizing Content Across Multiple Channels

I’ve mentioned the omnichannel content marketing strategy before.

Creating content across various channels at scale is undeniably effective.

One key advantage is the ability to repurpose your content across different mediums.

For instance, from one podcast episode, you can:

  • Extract the audio for podcast platforms
  • Upload the video on YouTube
  • Transcribe it into a blog article
  • Segment it into medium-length clips for Facebook and LinkedIn
  • Cut it into shorter clips for Twitter and Instagram
  • Share interesting insights in written form on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn

This approach significantly increases your content output.

Gary Vaynerchuk, a pro at this technique, demonstrates how to create 60+ pieces of content daily.

Imagine, most competitors don’t even produce 60 pieces a year.

Even if you achieve just a fraction of this output, like 10+ pieces daily, it’s still impressive.

Engaging Your Audience in Comments

There’s usually no excuse for not responding to every comment unless you’re inundated with hundreds daily.

Even then, make an effort to engage with some.

Interacting in comments is a powerful tool for brand building and increasing brand awareness.

It shows you value your audience and are open to engagement.

This not only impacts the individual you’re responding to but also influences others’ perception of your brand.

Additionally, this direct engagement allows you to address concerns before they escalate, effectively managing potential issues.

Stick with the 80:20 Rule in SEO

Publishing quality content is crucial, but don’t overlook SEO.

The 80:20 rule is an efficient approach to SEO.

By implementing key practices, you can achieve 80% of the results with just 20% of the effort.

Focus on these essential SEO areas:

  • Include the main keyword in title and meta description
  • Use header tags to structure your content
  • Ensure a fast-loading website
  • Make your site mobile-friendly
  • Avoid clutter for a clean user experience
  • Interlink your content
  • Build a strong domain backlink profile
  • Link out to authoritative sources
  • Incorporate relevant images and videos

This may seem overwhelming, but these tasks blend into the content production process without much extra effort.

Focus on basic yet impactful SEO tactics and avoid overly complex strategies with minimal returns.

Pro tip: Monitor your content’s performance.

If an article ranks well and attracts traffic, exploit its potential.

Check Google Search Console for keywords driving its success and enhance the content around them.

Adding depth to already successful content can lead to even more traffic from Google.

Always maintain high-quality standards.

Publish a lot and focus on what works.

Analyze Your Results and Adjust Your Approach

Continuously analyze and refine your content marketing strategy.

Be willing to adapt, even if it means deviating from what initially worked.

If using an omnichannel approach, ensure your content is relevant to each platform and monitor its performance.

Do more of what’s effective and less of what isn’t.

This advice is straightforward, yet often overlooked due to attachment to familiar methods.

If a platform isn’t yielding results and you can’t turn it around, it’s wise to shift focus to more productive channels.