Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

Let Your Brand Lead Your Content Marketing Efforts

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The following is the fifth 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.

Truth be told, content marketing at its core does take the focus off the brand -- it's designed that way. Good content marketing doesn't necessarily "promote" product features but rather shows how the brand adds value to the customer's life.

Related: The Hidden Content Gem Marketers Aren't Utilizing

We really shouldn't see a lot of product marketing in content marketing, but rather information that will help the customer beyond just the product itself. The key is to make sure it's still relevant and credible coming from the brand. Of course, this assumes you know what the brand is all about, and that's where the process should begin: defining your brand.

Any content marketing plan should begin with a very thorough definition of what the brand offers to its customers. Then and only then can you start to develop content that adds value to the customer. That's because the content you develop should match all that you stand for as a brand.

Take a hard look at what you offer as a brand, above and beyond your product's features. Outline your brand's values and make decisions about how you want to help your customers. Think through the skills you have and how you can turn them into valuable information.

Use your brand definition to establish your credibility in the marketplace. When the content you create comes from where your skills naturally lie, then your customers will truly see the content as authentic and they will more likely embrace it.

Related: How to Build a Brand That Attracts Die-Hard Followers

Let's take a look at Patagonia, a brand that definitively knows what it stands for with an aspirational lifestyle that loyalists embrace wholeheartedly. The brand has an exceptional commitment to corporate responsibility and an undying dedication to making sustainable products that last a lifetime. In fact, a once infamous campaign warned consumers that they better be sure that they like Patagonia products because they'll have them for the rest of their lives. Ha!

Patagonia entered content marketing with "Worn Wear," a dedicated website where loyal customers write stories of their adventures living the brand's lifestyle.

"Worn Wear" contains content that is user generated for sure, but it's rich in its storytelling and tied directly to what the Patagonia brands stands for. As a result, you get a very clear sense of the Patagonia brand with every story.

Use Patagonia as inspiration for developing your content marketing plan. Start by defining what you stand for, and then weave your brand essence throughout your content development. You'll end up with a plan that's consistent and effective, driving your marketing efforts forward.

When you lead with your brand, your customers will fully understand what you can offer to them.

Entrepreneur Editors' Picks