As a start-up, you know that you have to tread the ground carefully. Apart from continuing to believe in the power of your dream and convincing others to do the same, you often find yourself juggling more tasks than you can handle. It seems that today, all you got to aim at is ‘hit the ground and start running’ – but often in the reverse order.
Now, we know that we are all social beings living in a social world replete with social creatures. The need of the hour is to deploy competitive yet human-centric strategies with an intestinal fortitude that covers all bases.
Mindful content creation no longer cuts the ice. Sometimes, it is the platter on which you serve the content than the content itself that determines the success of your brand. Churning out original, insightful and even actionable content are reduced to ashes if you’re aiming at the wrong target.
In this light, these ten commandments of content marketing can save the soul of your content marketing efforts and navigate your path through good times and bad.
Thou Shall Have a Higher Purpose
Top brands have a penchant for being unfailingly passionate about accomplishing their core purpose, regardless of what it is – profit generation, getting famous, making the perennial difference in someone’s life — okay, you get the idea.
Granted, attention to detail and execution is important; but once the ‘whys’ of entrepreneurship are sorted, the ‘hows’ almost always seem to fall into place. That aligns beautifully with a Biblical verse that says, “your mind follows where your heart goes".
Thou Shall be Human
Remember — on the other side of your content lie humans with dreams, aspirations, problems and dwindling attention span. In your zeal to tie all your efforts to one singular objective – money making — don’t’ forget to engage and inspire the core of what your efforts are directed at.
It’s people that will take your business forward at the end of the day and not technology or fancy buildings.
The three pillars of content marketing strategies — resonance, relevance, and reciprocity – rarely go wrong, so you may want to incorporate them while engaging with your audience at an emotional level.
Thou Shall Make Your Content About Them
Let’s face it; most people are in love with themselves. They latch on to anything that makes them feel loved, important and cared for. If anything, the selfie culture is an innocuous yet pertinent case in point.
It is this universal concept of self-love that has influenced successful marketing strategies of countless successful brands — from Coca- Cola, which personalized bottle labels in 2014, to OfficeMax who integrated viral media into mainstream culture using this concept.
Take a cue from these bigwigs and produce content that is tailored for your audience. Make your content about them, your audience and have them occupy center stage.
Thou Shall be a Constant Learner
The day you stop learning is the day you stop growing and eventually, living, no matter how experienced or intelligent you are.
Learning is not merely devouring all the knowledge locked up in self-help books; it is also about taking some time off our routine and talking to friends, colleagues and even strangers to get a fresh perspective about the same thing.
If you’re an entrepreneur, stepping out of your comfort should be your second nature. Expand your knowledge base by attending seminars, conferences or focus groups and don’t be afraid of asking questions, no matter how silly they sound.
As the Bible says, you won’t really be given unless you ask for it.
Thou Shall Focus on Outcomes, Not Views, and Impressions
Unlike the consumption-driven focus of media houses until the not-so-distant past, the buzzwords in our technologically connected era are sharing, caring and outcome. Views, likes, and impressions may give you the temporary oxygen of feel-good factor, but their durability is as good as last month’s celebrity gossip.
Instead, drive a positive outcome through your content. Inspire people and change their perspective to attain something mutually beneficial. Imbue transformation by talking through your audience, not at them.
Thou Shall Not Play Safe
For high-stake brands, doing the most sensible thing can also be your worst possible mistake. There is nothing wrong in putting out something that triggers passionate conversations and gets people to share your content, as opposed to reading it and keeping it to themselves.
Every opinion counts. Moreover, everybody loves to put their opinion across on the other side of the table. Android Vs Apple, Google Vs Facebook, Vodka Vs Wine, the list is endless.
So why not use that proclivity to your advantage? Just plant a seed of engagement through a piece of content (as long as it is not overtly controversial or offensive) that gets people talking and watch the action unfold sitting on the sidelines.
Brands like Red Bull and McDonald have leveraged this strategy successfully by getting people to argue their opinions.
Thou Shall Not Follow the Crowd
Daring to depart from the next big thing at a time when everyone is gung-ho about it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But then, being a game changer isn’t everybody’s cup of tea either, is it?
Rather than jumping on the bandwagon of famous brands for the sake of staying relevant, do the exact opposite, because actionable originality is where relevancy actually resides.
If everybody is writing about the perils of AI and deep learning on human employment, produce a top 7 list of why these futuristic technologies are an absolute boon for humanity.
Thou Shall Capture Hearts, Not Eyeballs
What was the last time that an ad captivated your emotions? Was it something that inundated you with jaw-dropping visuals or futuristic gadgets? Or was it the image of an adorable puppy accompanying you as you picked up your mobile phone?
It’s a no-brainer that the second ad resonates stronger in our minds.
What have puppies to do with mobile phones? Absolutely nothing, but for their ability to stir and invoke the collective emotions of an entire nation.
The bottom-line: We all are sentimental, emotional beings and like the story of an underdog or an unsung hero because we see us in them.
Brands that have leveraged emotional stories to help their audience overcome personal or psychological anxieties and realize their true potential are typically the ones that succeed over and over again simply because their heart is on the right side (no pun intended).
Thou Shall Not Create Content to Please Everyone
Again, remember that there are real people on the other side of your screen. They feel they deserve your special attention. And, they do.
Treat them exactly how you would want to be treated by a dear friend. You’re not out there to tell your audience what a fantastic brand you are or how deftly you craft your stories; your role is to make every single reader as if they’re the only one person you want to talk to all day long.
Thou Shall Story Listen
Contrary to popular belief, storytelling is not the only way to make a lasting impact with your content. Yes, interspersing storytelling with your brand with a sense of belongingness is almost always effective. But that doesn’t mean you undermine the importance of story listening, which requires you to ask questions of and actually listen to who you will narrate your story to.
Are you spending enough time listening to their side of the story? What do they feel about the relevance or resonance of your story? What is in your story that draws them forward or pushes them away?
Interlacing story listening within your content may not make it go viral right away but is likely to get your audience to appreciate your willingness to listen to them. At the very least, this will reduce the burden of social media managers.
While these 10 commandments do not guarantee immediate success or insulate you from occasional setbacks, they may certainly navigate the path of your content marketing journey through good times and bad.