It’s 1900. Édouard Michelin and André Michelin, two brothers from Clermont-Ferrand, France faced a challenge of growing their business, a rubber factory that produced tires.
The challenge was quite daunting. At the time, there were fewer than 3,000 cars in the country, so their target audience was quite limited. Moreover, car owners don’t buy tires every day, so the sales of Michelin were low. Clearly, they needed something extraordinary to add value to their clients and entice them to drive more.
So, they came up with a brilliant idea: the same year, they released the first ever Michelin Guide.
It was a relatively small guide that had some useful information such as maps of France with fascinating sights, information on how to change a tire, locations of gas stations, and a list of hotels and other interesting attractions.
The Michelin guide remains one of the first examples of content marketing, as the Michelin Guide has its own brand of excellence surrounding it. Like the Michelin Guide, telling your brand story through a value-added content can be a cost-effective and impactful way to drive business. Here are five simple tips to help you improve your content marketing.
Tip #1: Start with a Good Story
Storytelling is one of the oldest ways people formed bonds. By telling a story that your audience relates to, you're able to build a rapport with them. One of the best ways to ensure success in this is to emulate or collect your current customer's stories through User-Generated Content (UGC). No one relates better to your target customer than your current customers.
Airbnb has mastered brand storytelling. Instead of focusing on how the business began, they focus on sharing their (admittedly, stunning) customer stories.
Their customers are the brand because they tell their relatable stories of exploring every corner of the planet (via Airbnb, of course). A good story for content marketing is one that originates authentically: tell the stories of customers where your business plays a critical role by enabling something great to happen.
Tip #2: Use in Natural Language
Content marketing written in a formal tone is ineffective because it’s boring, not focused on readers, and could be perceived as a sales pitch.
Whether it’s a blog article or a video script, use natural, conversational language. Language that feels unnatural to your audience will alienate them. Similar to using a stock photo, where UGC would perform better.
Captivate your audience by offering them value beyond a sales pitch. At a basic level, though, use online tools such as Hemingway Editor and TrustMyPaper to check for grammar and tone mistakes. Technology can help with proofreading, editing, defining a unique writing style, and using language internet audiences prefer.
Tip #3: Be Unique
Every piece of writing you create for your brand should be unique and tell a unique story to grab the attention of your target audience. Your potential customers encounter a lot of advertisements constantly. Try to stand out.
One of the best recent content marketing campaigns that featured a unique story is Under Armour’s collaboration with Nigerian bobsledders. The well-known apparel producer teamed up with the newly formed Nigerian bobsledding team consisting of three women who were the first to represent their nation – as well as the African continent – in this sport. They released a five-part docuseries that showed how these three amazing individuals made history on this year’s Winter Games.
Having such a unique story to cover is a truly fascinating experience, and your customers may think so, too.
Tip #4: Stay Authentic to Your Brand’s Voice
Your brand has its own philosophy and style of communication with the target audience, so your content shouldn’t disrupt it. Sacrificing a brand’s unique voice would be a huge mistake because many of your target audience members may perceive your content as dishonest. The best way to stay true to your brand voice is to utilize the power of UGC to help tell your story.
Tip #5: Don’t Forget About SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) helps people discover your content. Make sure you include unique keywords that are relevant to your brand and use phrases to help people find your brand's stories online. As a digital marketer, you should ensure that the branded content you’re using also has these keywords and keyword phrases included in a natural way.
Marie Fincher is a digital content director at Trust My Paper company with a background in marketing, technology, and business intelligence. She frequently writes about data science, BI, new marketing trends and branding strategies. Marie gradually changed her focus from working in marketing to writing about it.