Today’s emerging brands and startups are tasked with getting an immense amount right. For the past few decades, the world has been operating on fast forward, and the pressure for companies to get to market quickly is immense.
From leadership decisions to product development, mistakes can permanently derail a brand’s ability to succeed in the long-term. And then there’s marketing.
Getting a brand to consumers means navigating a crowded space. Optimizing content, as well as understanding the strategies and algorithms across platforms is daunting — especially for companies that are still building a foundation. Yet, at such an early stage, it’s important to identify what’s valuable – and what's noise.
This isn’t to say that these brands don’t need a content strategy, but that their content strategy should emerge and evolve as the business continues to grow. For marketers, that’s a tall order; it means moving fast and continuously adapting in order to learn, execute, entertain, respond, and ultimately compel audiences to take action.
Emerging brands can narrow their focus and lessen the burden of executing a content strategy with one simple commitment: to add value and serve their communities. And the best way to accomplish this is by avoiding some of the most rampant marketing clichés of our time.
Creating content that’s “low-hanging fruit”
Memes, re-purposed blogs, and clickbait headlines are just a few examples that come to mind when companies are trying to get a content strategy up and running in a hurry. Content that proves to be an “easy win” might get some eyeballs in the short-term, but brands that are fighting to exist (and all emerging brands are) should take a page out of Brady and Belichick’s book and play the long game. Regardless of the type or topic, content should be focused on adding depth to the brand’s identity and value to the audience — not just quickly increasing likes, follows, shares, or subscribers.
While it’s good for a brand to get itself out in front of its audience, quality matters. Psychology tells us that low-hanging fruit is usually the last thing anyone should pick — the easy things are not always the good things. In marketing, low-hanging fruit might work for brands who already have an engaged core audience that needs little convincing to convert. Though low-hanging fruit may inevitably become a part of most brands’ content marketing strategy, emerging brands can potentially diminish their reputation by aiming low at the start of their journey.
The idea that “telling a story” at all times is paramount
With the number of platforms and mediums accessible to brands today, “storytelling” is atop the list of buzzwords that swirl around marketing objectives. But new brands that are continuing to evolve and emerge might still be defining much of their story.
At the beginning of their lifecycle, brands have very small audiences made up of an even smaller group of evangelists. Instead of “telling a story” 24/7 — or using immense resources to storyboard every detail from start to finish — up-and-coming brands should put their energy and resources toward determining what people are really coming to them for, then continuously adjusting their content accordingly. Emerging brands will find that it’s more effective to spend less time emulating big brands’ sexier content, and instead spend time farming on social media and optimizing what they produce. This can include answering industry and/or product questions, engaging with target groups, and focusing on bringing content with measurable, not just contextual, value, such as increasing usability and readability.
And of course, “content is king”
Though our team at ALB has said this a time or two in the past, its present-day watercooler meaning is far less applicable to emerging brands that are still establishing their presence. And the cliché goes beyond its use ad nauseum — truthfully, there’s far more to creating content than its esoteric label as “king” indicates.
Bill Gates was actually the first to use the phrase, “content is king” in January 1996. And what’s interesting is that Google and other monarchial content aggregators stood to benefit most from its use; more content ultimately meant more advertising dollars. In fact, for Google, it meant a little over $960 million in revenue just a year before going public.
So, what’s wrong with “content is king”? For emerging brands, nothing is wrong with adopting this maxim, but its widespread and repetitive use is simplistic. Creating great content is one thing. But the future of content marketing belongs to the brands that are willing to:
- Create valuable content that is engaging in multiple ways (visually, intellectually, entertaining);
- Deliver it to those who want it, where they want it;
- Ensure its easy accessibility, and;
- Successfully promote the hell out of it.
If emerging brands take the “king” ethos to heart and rely too much on the content itself, they won’t get the traction they expect. Content marketing is about the process, not just the product.
Offices around the world are filled with talented people who are banging their heads against a table as they try to develop a viable content marketing strategy. Fortunately for emerging brands, much of the subjective noise that surrounds content marketing can be tempered.
Most often, emerging brands spend so much time strategizing the ways in which they should optimize and distribute content, that they actually fail to create and distribute meaningful content at all. This is the time to be creative; to test different approaches, get to know your audience, and understand what they expect from you. As you reach for fruit that’s sits a bit higher, feel comfortable keeping some marketing clichés at arm’s length.