We all know that, in 2021, it’s paramount to use thought leadership in your marketing to reach your audience. It’s how we empathize with our customers and show that we understand them. It’s how we establish authority for our service or offering and create relevance. Ultimately, it’s a critical way for us to build our tribe of followers—by providing value, consistently, all while choosing to stay authentic and “keep it real.”
It’s easier said than done, but it doesn’t have to be a herculean lift, either. In fact, by taking a minimalist approach, we can almost certainly create a marketing engine that is not only manageable but also scalable.
What follows are four ways to educate your audience and build your brand’s tribe.
Make your message articulate
Amid the endless clutter from all types of media, the aim is to be crystal clear and focused. By taking a minimalist approach, we’re ensuring that only the strongest, most concise message is put out there. That will keep us positioned as we want to be, while also eliminating any room for ambiguity or vagueness.
As Donald Miller, the CEO of Story- Brand, says, “If you confuse, you lose.” And that’s the approach we take with every client. By keeping the message simple, where every word has a meaning, we can help our clients to provide maximum value with the least amount of content possible.
Data and user-experience (UX) research continue to point toward the “over content” problem of most brands and websites. Too many words, trying to explain a confusing offering, coupled with too many (or not enough) calls to action, usually mixed with bad fonts and a poor color hierarchy. That makes the case for what we refer to as a “hot-mess brand.” But even hot-mess brands can be fixed.
Focus on content that adds value
If we take an education-first approach to content creation, then we must make it our purpose only to provide valuable content—not to regurgitate “me, too” content that just adds to what I refer to as “media clutter.” And as I’ve shared in previous columns, the formula for creating value is a simple one:
reliability + delight = trust
If we’re consistent with our clear message, and we only share the content that we know our audience is looking for, then we can continue to carve out our differentiated space among our competitors and begin to amass our tribe.
Deliver where they live
The AV community loves Twitter, but here’s an important question: Is that where your ideal client is? If you’re a manufacturer, perhaps. However, if you’re an integrator that is looking for end-users, it might not be the best place. We have to understand where our audience hangs out on the web, and then become comfortable there.
Perhaps you’re interested, for example, in doing business with cannabis brands and cultivating their in-store experience. The first step would be to map out their content consumption points and then to craft a strategy to create and distribute content in the manner that is best for them (while keeping in mind that those points are probably not where you’d like them to be).
This is where the trusty marketing mix comes into play. By mapping out all the content endpoints, in addition to all the types of content, we can create a matrix to ensure we’re generating the right types of content and delivering them most attractively.
Combat clutter with frequency
“Create once, distribute forever” is a saying that has become ever more relevant in recent years. Changes in technology, especially social media’s rise, have only increased clutter. It’s everywhere, and there’s no end in sight. The only way to combat it is to ensure you’re not adding to it.
Once you have the right message being delivered on the right platform, it’s time to create a cadence of frequency. Taking a piece of content and slicing it up, thus producing multiple formats, is not only really smart but also extremely effective.
For example, a podcast could be shared as just one piece of content (the full episode), or it could be shared as multiple pieces of content. A 10-minute podcast could yield eight one-minute clips (subtracting the intro and outro); 16 30-second clips; four or five written blogs; four or five Instagram posts, etc. When you look at things through the eyes of frequency and distribution, the task of content creation becomes less daunting and more focused on only creating value.
And creating value is the ultimate goal if you want to ensure that you’re positioned properly to your audience. That’s especially true if we’re actively endeavoring to change from “just creating content” to “creating a few epic pieces of content and then distributing them in multiple ways.”
None of this happens without a solid brand strategy. It’s the common thread between your business goals and your marketing output. It’s what customers are aligning with. You might be able to get some quick wins by distributing your current content, but, to succeed, ultimately, you have to stay consistent and focus on the activities that matter.
I can talk about the importance of brand strategy until the cows come home. (What does that expression even mean?) Ultimately, though, to achieve your goals, you must have a brand strategy to inform your web, digital, content, and general marketing strategy.
It’s the ecosystem on which modern-day businesses are built.