How to use content marketing to position your brand

Saturday, 14 December 2019

How to use content marketing to position your brand

How is your product or brand positioned? Don’t take too long to think about it. Count to five, and then say your positioning statement out loud. It should be compelling, easy to understand, unique in your market — and your customers and staff should believe it.

Ok, that’s the count to five over. How did you do? If you didn’t manage to trot out a short convincing statement of where your brand sits in the market and why consumers should care, you have a problem. Your positioning statement is your elevator pitch, not to investors but to your customers. You should know it better than your name and so should everyone who works for you.

If you’re not clear on what I mean, answer me this: what does Yahoo do? Or more importantly, what does Yahoo do for consumers that none of its competitors do as well? Struggling to come up with an answer? So did Marissa Mayer.

Position yourself or your competitors will do it for you

Just because you haven’t formulated a compelling positioning statement, doesn’t mean your brand won’t be positioned in the market.  In the best-case scenario, your customers will position you. They’ll compare your brand with those of your competitors and collectively decide that you’re “the cheap one”, “the luxury one”, “the steady-eddy reliable one”. This isn’t good and is unlikely to lead to a scenario in which you maximise the value of your brand, but it can at least lead to a “not so bad” outcome, if customers like what you’re selling.

Far worse, is if your competitors position you. They will not be slow to notice you don’t have a clear position. They will try to use their own marketing to push you into the negative space created between their brands. From the technology industry again, think of HP. HP’s core brand value is innovation. That should be the basis for its positioning. Unfortunately, the company has so many different product lines and so many different divisions (even after the split), that it struggles to get out a consistent message about what it is and its single driving idea.

Compare that with two of its main competitors in the personal computing market: Apple and Dell. Apple, with its Think Different brand statement, really has positioned itself successfully around innovation, in both technology and customer experience. Dell, on the other hand, has been lucky. Its marketing isn’t as sharp as Apple’s, but its customer experience is very good. Consumers know that they can easily order a Dell PC customised to their specification and needs — and they know that the build quality will be good.

So where does that leave HP? It’s not seen as innovative, in the way Apple is (even though, as the owner of thousands of patents, it actually is). And because it's path to market — a mix of channel and direct, that varies from product to product  —  feels more complicated than Dell's, it's harder to buy an HP server, for instance,  specced to your needs than it is to buy a Dell. So, HP ends up positioned in the consumer’s mind as the grey-box company with a more complicated sales process. Not a great place to be — or, more pertinently, to let your competitors put you.

Position yourself with content marketing

Before we talk about how to use content marketing as part of your brand positioning efforts, let’s be clear: fundamentally, positioning is not about marketing communications. Positioning starts with a single idea which defines your company or brand. Only once you have that single idea — and you’ve tested it to make sure it’s authentic and believable — is it time to start communicating it. That’s where content marketing is invaluable.

Once you’ve identified your brand position, you need to find the audience which will respond to that position. Audience discovery is not the painful and expensive process it used to be in the analogue days of yore. A content-marketing agency that knows its business, will be able to help you work with the seed data you have — from your website or your CRM — to build a clear picture of who your current audience is. Once you know that, you and the agency will work together to understand how your position — and the brand messaging you build on that position — speaks to that audience, segment by segment. Once you understand that, you have the core of your content-marketing strategy.

The next step, is to understand what your target audiences are searching for — what they’re interested in — that you can use to draw them to your site and which aligns with your positioning and your marketing objectives.

For instance, let’s say you’re running a new online e-commerce site selling motor-parts. You know your customers are keen hobbyists, and your brand position is value and trustworthiness. Your content strategy should make concrete your brand position. You might, for example, concentrate on how-to videos and blog posts that help your target audience make popular modifications and repairs to their vehicles, avoiding common pitfalls, and on a budget.

As well as aligning your content with your marketing position and brand values, you’d use your audience research to target the right channels, platforms, and keywords for your target audiences. Your aim, is to be the place that your audience comes to for advice and tips on how to find choose and use the best budget auto parts for their projects.

An example of how this can work in real life, is the work WLM carried out on behalf of Crayon, global leaders in software asset management and advisors to many of the world’s leading firms when it comes to cloud and GDPR.

Crayon needed a series of multi-region, multi-language social media and marketing campaigns around Office 365, E3, E5 and SQL Server 2016 to help promote Microsoft services and solutions to a B2B market that was primarily focussed on increasing productivity and mitigating risks, at a time when budgets were under intense pressure. WLM.digital worked with Crayon and partners to develop a content strategy that used a mixture of humorous and serious articles, blogs, videos, and infographics to help Crayon position itself and Microsoft in the minds of the target audience as honest and reliable partners that could deliver on both of these, apparently contradictory aims. At the end of the engagement, Crayon had seen its most successful set of campaigns ever with brand exposure in the millions. On YouTube alone, video views stood at nearly 678,000. Moreover, as a result Microsoft had millions of new business leads in the pipeline.

Need an expert to help you position your brand in the market — and then communicate that position to your target audience? WLM.digital can help. Drop me a line at [email protected] 

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