Want your content marketing to stand out? Stand for something

By standing for something, conventional media (newspapers, magazines, radio and TV) niche their message and differentiate themselves as an organisation. Time magazine tells the news through people stories. Life magazine used to tell the news using pictures. Almost all of them had some form of a content mission.

By standing for something, you will have people who identify with you, and others who do not. But the people who identify with you will be more loyal and more qualified as customers because they perceive that you share their values.

You may polarise some people, but hey, you’re always going to have that no matter what you do.

What does it mean to stand for something and how do I do that?

Align your brand with a content positioning that differentiates you from the competition. There are tonnes of junk content out there at the moment. Advertorial and advertising masquerading as content marketing – if I see another ‘list article…’ of ‘vacuous infographic’…

Call it content shock, noise, clutter – there is a lot of competition for attention at the moment. Attention is currency. Creating content that appeals to everybody – generic waffle like list articles – actually engages nobody.

When you mean to make a sale, you’re not after eyeballs as much as you are after ‘hearts and minds’.

A good example is the banks. Every bank site you visit will have an article about how to write a business plan. It’s adding value, but it’s not valuable. Kiwibank, the ‘resistance movement’ of banks, could look to differentiate with a content stream that talks about the ‘maverick business plan’. Their mission? To help people assert their independence – to go their own way.

How do you establish your positioning?

Let’s look to Hooters for an answer:

“The only chain of restaurants that employs overtly sexy waitresses to cater for the libidos of young men in the United States in an age of political correctness.” (If you haven’t read Marty Neumeier’s book Zag, I recommend that you do).

Neumeier points out that what Hooters has done is to use a social trend to take a position, to stand for something that their target market identifies with – it polarises others – but it does differentiate them and offers an entire realm of content ideas.

Here in New Zealand, we’re doing some work with Primary ITO, and the positioning we are working with is to ‘the economic benefit to student and employer of on the job training’. The idea is to present ‘on the job training’ as the future of education in the age of the time poor’. Lots of people love the idea, university academics, not so much.

Align with your brand by asking yourself: What do we stand for? Or what could we stand for? For example:

  • On the job training
  • All for one and all against political correctness
  • Volvo stands for safety
  • Progressive insurance for ‘protecting people’s passions

Which social trends can help differentiate you? For example:

  • Sustainability
  • Overtaxation
  • The sharing economy
  • Commoditisation of services e.g. Fiverr
  • Vintage foods

When you stand for something, you build engagement, liking and trust quicker because people perceive that you are similar to them – likeminded, with shared values.

Photo by jean wimmerlin

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