A brand has a zillion ways to market their content today. With every passing day, a new digital channel is opening up where businesses can connect with their customers and attempt to educate, inform, or entertain them. So when you’re looking to get your voice out there, it’s always good to have a plethora of platforms to shout it out, right?
Not actually. What businesses may consider as “alternatives” (social media, paid media promotions, and search advertising) to having a blog or resource section on their website are just ways to supplement their core content – which needs to exist on an owned platform that makes sure their brand messaging and ideas are unambiguously conveyed to their audience.
Michael Brenner, author of the bestselling book The Content Formula, outlined the following characteristics of a content hub:
- They publish content that their audience wants.
- They put out posts on a regular basis.
- There is often a variety of topics covered, but in most cases, these topics are interrelated.
- The content is typically non-promotional, but that is not always the case.
- The degree of branding and promotion can vary a lot.
- They can exist on the brand’s own domain or on a separate one.
If you look closely, all of the above characteristics are resoundingly similar to those of an organization’s blog or publication. For all purposes, content that influences decision-making invariably exists as a blog or content resource on a company’s website. A Demand Gen report on the trustworthiness of online content confirmed this:
Clearly, the top content formats that presumably nudge the reader to make a decision – white papers, ebooks, case studies, blog posts – are far more likely to be published on the business’s website than a social channel or media publication. Indeed, for most small to medium businesses looking to establish their authority in their fields, building a comprehensive online hub showcasing content in a variety of formats is a proven path to follow on the way to reaching a wider audience.
In this article, I attempt to find a few real-world examples of how a content hub is working for businesses of varying sizes and types, and examine whether it’s possible for you to apply the strategies of these brands with consistent blogging, in order to succeed in different customer-centered business objectives.
Maintains the Customer Connect
Building a content hub comes easiest to big brands and enterprises. Their marketing teams usually have access to huge budgets and lots of data. Unfortunately, they’re often the last to take advantage of the vast information resources they’re sitting on top of, letting leaner startups frequently get the better of them.
Colgate-Palmolive, however, is an exception to this rule. The way this 200-year old behemoth uses their knowledge of oral health care is astounding. Their website features a full-blown “Oral Care Center” that provides expert advice on a ton of dental conditions and procedures.
Rarely does Colgate try to sell their own products from these articles. On the contrary, they give clear advice on solving common problems on their own, while learning a thing or two about caring for teeth and gums in the process. Nevertheless, their products are only a click or two away, in case the customer quickly decides to buy any.
Enabling users and visitors to solve problems for themselves might not always lead to a sale for you, but certainly builds the base for a long-term relationship by establishing your reputation as a business that puts its customers first.
Helps Target a Niche Audience
When you’re targeting a small market segment, you need to spend a lot of time and effort studying the habits and preferences of the consumers in that segment. This audience tends to be knowledgeable in the space, early adopters of new products, and ever-hungry for more information.
This means you need to be constantly on top of new developments and trends in the industry, know the workings of products, services, and competitors inside out, and churn out content that your already-well informed audience will appreciate. Obviously, this is something that only someone who is passionate about the subject, is experienced and active in the market, and having deep domain knowledge can pull off.
The tech blogging industry, for instance, is a wildly competitive space where domain experts vie to get insider news out and review new products features before anyone else. iGeeksBlog is one of many that cover Apple products, and the whole ecosystem around the iPhone and iPad, with uncanny resourcefulness and accuracy.
Co-Founder Jignesh Padhiyar attributes this resourcefulness to a customer-first mentality. “We focus on pain points over product features and even the brand itself. You need to be bold enough to put your audience’s interest over your own,” he told me over the phone.
An apt example would be an article that explains how to bypass the iCloud activation lock on your iPhone. While Apple might not necessarily want iPhone users to do this, it’s clearly something a lot of customers are searching for:
Being competitive in a niche market entails understanding consumer mindset better than anyone else. If you are able to sustain a steady stream of content that reveals tips and tricks in product usage, analyzes developments with in-depth, step-by-step articles or videos, or points buyers to timely deals and offers, you’ll come out ahead of your competition every time.
Projects Your Brand Personality
When we speak of brand personality, what immediately comes to mind are the “human” traits that we perceive to be associated with the business entity, the emotions that their messaging evokes, and how we feel about using their products.
A brand, however, isn’t always a business. A personal brand is just as valuable as a corporate one. Remember what Jay Z proclaimed? “I’m not a businessman. I’m a business, man!”
Marketing author, and thinker Seth Godin is the quintessential example of someone who influences his audience with bite-sized thoughts every day. He has been publishing one post a day on his blog for the past sixteen years!
How does he do it? He writes like he talks. Day in and day out. You can’t get more human than that. No wonder, then, that the blog flaunts the real human behind the face. It embodies everything Seth stands for – it’s amusing, motivating, wise, common-sensible, and infinitely enjoyable. Seth actively encourages his followers to read his posts – his website even exhorts you to “click on his head” to read his blog:
Seth opposes the notion of blogging to make money or “monetizing” your insights. On the contrary, he thinks you get into trouble the moment you start to think of your content in terms of a “sales funnel” or something you can sell. No wonder his books and courses sell so well!
Of course, not every reader of your blog will agree with you, or become a follower or a customer. That’s okay. What’s important is that they keep coming back for more information, and look up to you as someone who they can trust to offer practical, actionable advice when they need it.
Over to You
A blog with well-planned, well-researched, and consistent flow of content can easily become the backbone of your online brand. As we’ve seen here, it not only draws in more customers with relevant information about your industry, but also establishes your business as a thought leader and helps you stand out in your space.
There is no reason you need to stop there. Identify the appropriate channels where republishing your content makes sense for your business, and go ahead and repurpose the content in formats that are appropriate for these channels. With little value-additions like quotes and video clips, you can spread your insights across the digital spectrum effectively and with minimal effort.