With today’s ever-widening political and societal divides, consumers are placing increasing significance on company and brand purpose, authenticity and values, writes Mike Berry.
The importance of purpose-driven communications has been rising up the corporate agenda with companies all too aware of the critical impact it can have on reputation – basically what their key audiences think of them and feel about them. Reputation management is now a thing that the best companies do all the time.
At a recent Content Marketing Association business breakfast, the discussion centred around the role and value of content to organisations in creating trust and improving reputation.
In a noisy, digital-led world where so much content is competing for consumer eyeballs, the ‘quality’ issue remains central. A quality piece of content should help enhance your brand, improve your reputation and be relevant, helping the reader (or viewer). It may mean fewer individual pieces or articles, and instead a concentration on higher ticket, more in-depth editorials, long-reads, or more detailed audio or video content.
Whatever the medium, your content needs to be built on the right foundations – it must feel authentic and credible. As brands increasingly become ‘content companies’ (a process which has been accelerating for several years now), they must avoid taking an approach which looks and feels clichéd or awkward.
There are many recent examples of brands striving to differentiate themselves from their competitors by becoming vocal on pertinent social issues only for it to backfire spectacularly and become damaging from a reputational perspective. Pepsi’s tone-deaf Kendall Jenner commercial back in 2017 is a high-profile case in point.
From a B2B standpoint, an important (and often neglected) factor is to not make assumptions about your audience. Create content that is about your audience and not about you: all content can lead back to your product, service or solution, but good content marketing starts with articulating a need. “Nobody wants to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter inch hole,” as Harvard economist Theodore Levitt memorably put it.
Personalisation is another key theme – taking time to “walk with them”, to understand their pain points and what will help them and their business, and then serving relevant content based on these results. After all, they are giving you their time reading/watching/consuming your content so it needs to be a fair value exchange.
Effective, tailored and targeted content builds credibility and trust with your audience, which then converts into sales, advocacy and loyalty. While standing out from the crowd is becoming tougher, the companies that will ultimately succeed are those that put content at the heart of their communications.
Mike Berry is FSC’s Head of Content