In Content Marketing, Your Brand Needs to Take the Back Seat

To create effective content, brand promotion must take a back seat to the customer's interests.

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By Jim Joseph

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The following is the ninth article in the series, "Content Marketing Like the Big Brands," in which marketing master Jim Joseph discusses ways that small to medium businesses can create compelling content for their customers to generate breakthrough business results.

No one ever said that content marketing is easy. If it was, every brand on the planet would be doing it -- and doing it perfectly well.

To do it right, good content marketing requires a leap of faith that many find hard to tackle -- particularly small-business owners and entrepreneurs.

Related: New Business? Here Are 5 Tips on How to Craft a Great Brand.

Let's face it, small business owners often have trouble letting go. Entrepreneurs by nature like to control their own destiny. There's nothing wrong with that. But there are a few fundamental aspects about content marketing that fly in the face of that very common mindset.

First of all, really good content marketing isn't about the brand. The content should be about the customer and how to add value to their lives. It's not easy having your brand take the back seat.

Content marketing (and really, any kind of marketing) should put the customer at the center of the action. It should put their needs above and beyond promoting the product or service you're trying to sell. You are probably very comfortable talking about your brand, so it's hard to suddenly stop focusing on it. But think about it this way: You never want to go to a cocktail party and get stuck with the guy who is only talking about himself -- and you certainly never want to be that guy!

You have to be agile in the online world. For many of us, the digital space is a natural place and we love the opportunities that it gives us. But for those who perhaps didn't grow up on it, digital can be foreign. So while being in the online world may feel like going to that cocktail party naked, you still have to join the conversation.

Related: When It Comes to Branding, It's All About Color (Infographic)

Lastly, you not only have to be comfortable with your content getting shared, you have to actually relish it. This is where your brand can grab the limelight. Sharing is what content marketing is ultimately all about. You want your brand to be conversed about, editorialized and enhanced. While it may not always be positive commentary, it is always enlightening and attention getting. So go to that cocktail party and embrace people who talk about you -- the good and the not so good.

Coca-Cola recently launched a new website, Coca-Cola Journey, with content marketing as its sole intent. There's barely a lick about the products, but rather a buffet of robust content designed to enlighten consumers above and beyond what a can of carbonated beverage could possibly do alone. I'm sure it's very hard for the brand to not promote its products, especially in such a competitive and demanding category. But with its deep and valuable content, Coca-Cola is not only at the cocktail party, it is hosting and cleaning up after.

The lesson here? Jump in with both feet. Step out of your traditional comfort zone and put your customer first. Talk about them and what they need, not about your brand. Go digital and move at the speed of their life. Then get ready for the share-fest that will surely come!

Related: How to Create Content That's Meant to Be Shared

Jim Joseph

Marketing Master - Author - Blogger - Dad

Jim Joseph is a commentator on the marketing industry. He is Global President of the marketing communications agency BCW, author of The Experience Effect series and an adjunct instructor at New York University.

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