Building a Content Strategy? Here’s Why Brand Strategy Should Be Your First Step

Building a Content Strategy? Here’s Why Brand Strategy Should Be Your First Step

As you get ready to market your business, you might think it’s time to develop a content strategy. After all, you hear the constant drumbeat of “write blogs, publish social content, and send emails.” And it’s true, your content strategy guides all the assets you need to market your business, including what kind to create and where they will live.

But there’s a step you should take first. Before you start working on your content strategy, you should work on developing a brand strategy. Your brand strategy serves as the go-to guide to creating a positive image of your business in your customers’ minds. While you could skip over the brand strategy and jump right into the content strategy, it doesn’t mean you should, and I’ll tell you why.

Without a solid brand strategy and brand messaging — no matter how light — a content strategy is a lot like throwing darts at a dartboard. A well-developed brand strategy strongly influences the kind of content you create and ensures your content follows a consistent look and feel. 

At this point in your business, you might have some idea of what your brand is, but it can’t live in your head. You need to flesh out your brand strategy and share it with contractors and anyone else who needs to create assets on your behalf. 

I’ll take you through the process of creating your brand strategy and how to use it to develop your content strategy

 

Every Business Should Have a Brand Strategy

Unlike branding guides that explain what your brand will look and feel like, a brand strategy maps out how you will develop that know, like, and trust factor with your customer. It’s all about delivering a clear and consistent message about what your company is and how it can serve them. 

A mid-sized B2B client recently came to me for a series of articles and LinkedIn posts. During our discovery process, I asked several questions and was surprised when their answers about pain points, audience profile, and solution overview weren’t cohesive.

When it was clear they didn’t have a defined brand strategy, I suggested diving in there first to create clarity around what they do before co-creating copy or content.

Side note: Creating a brand strategy is also crucial for your internal team, whether your company has 10 or 100 employees.

For example, one of my clients in managed services had over 100 people employed and was still in the process of growing. They reached out to me for help with their web copy and mentioned that every copywriter they had previously hired had “gotten it wrong.” I asked if they had established a cohesive brand strategy or messaging, but they did not at the time. As a result, we dove into their brand messaging to identify what they wanted to be known for, outline their services, and explain how it benefits their clients. Once the brand strategy was final, working on their web copy was straightforward.

Even if your company is just you, it’s well worth your time to dive into brand strategy. Maybe you need a deep dive into your messaging with a formal document. Then again, maybe you simply need to evaluate what you want to be known for and figure out what kinds of content you want to share. 

Regardless of your why, it’s incredibly important to put a foundation in place before you build the walls.

 

Key Brand Strategy Elements for Content Strategy

Now that you know why it’s important to have a brand strategy and what kind of results you can expect from one, it’s time to understand the development of the strategy. 

Understand Your Audience and Their Pain Points 

When marketers ask their clients who they’re trying to target or sell to, a common response is “Everyone.” While it would be ideal for a business to cater to everyone, it’s not realistic and won’t get you closer to your goals. Think about your product or service and who could use something like this.

Identify the Problems Your Customers Have and How You Can Solve Them 

For example, if you provide tax services, a common problem your customer might have is not understanding the forms they need, opportunities to write off expenses, or how to maximize their profit. Doing their taxes for them eliminates the need for them to deal with these complicated concepts. 

Define How You Want Your Audience to Feel

Do you want them to feel relief? What about excitement? You can even empower your audience or help them relax. What you want your audience to feel can help you define your approach to content, conversations, and your call(s) to action. 

Define Your Brand Voice 

Your brand voice is the way you speak to your customers. You can be friendly and approachable the way a yoga instructor might. If you’re in finance, you may want to come across as authoritative and reassuring. (Learn more about my approach to brand voice here.)

Identify Your Core Values

Your core values represent what your business (and often what you) stand for. Customers tend to do business with companies that align with their values and avoid the ones that don’t. Your core values will play a key part in all your marketing and the daily operation of your business. If you want to learn more about core values, you can dive deeper here

Establish What You Want to be Known For

Take some time to reflect and really think this out –  when someone says, “Oh, you want to talk to [insert your name here!]” when a problem presents itself, what do you want that to be? Do you want to be known as the dentist no one’s scared to go to? Or maybe you want to be known as the go-to interior designer for nurseries. Something to keep in mind: you don’t have to be known for what you do now – you can start sowing the seeds to be known for what you want to do. 

I started working with a client 3 years ago who is one of the top accounting professionals in Massachusetts. She needed to expand her brand, build authority as a professional, and show off her expertise. When she let me know that her goal was to break into the cannabis industry, we sat down to define her brand, opinions, and what she wanted to be known for to prepare for that transition. From there, her content strategy was about setting herself up as an expert in the new area. (Want to see how we did it? Check out the case study.)

Defining what you want to be known for sets you apart from the competition so you can position yourself as an expert. By exploring what is groundbreaking about your approach, or how you’re bucking the status quo, you can start finding some interesting and informative angles. 

Take Mike Diamond Plumbing, for example. They’re a plumbing company serving the Greater Los Angeles area in Southern California and have positioned themselves as “The Smell Good Plumber.” Mike Diamond knows plumbers aren’t known for being pristine due to their work conditions, so they used that to their advantage and are explicitly telling their audience they are “not like other plumbers.” Mike Diamond may not have been my client, but this is the kind of clarity I help businesses achieve.

Develop Your Brand Messaging

Your brand messaging incorporates your positioning, service or product messaging, and the benefits to your customers. When you craft this, it creates a more streamlined process for writing copy. You can read about building brand recognition through your messaging here.

Go Forth and Conquer Your Content Strategy

Now that you have a well-crafted brand strategy for your business, it’s time to develop your content strategy. Here are some questions to ask yourself when creating your content strategy to make the process easier.

Who is Your Audience, and What is Their Awareness Level of Your Solution? 

Think about who you want to see your content and how aware they are of your business. Do you have an established audience who you plan to expose to a new product or service? Or maybe you’re creating content for a new audience who has never heard of your business.

Where do You Need to Connect With Them?

It’s important you don’t overwhelm yourself and think you need to be EVERYWHERE to make a sale. You don’t. If your target audience is still loyal to email, maybe you don’t need to start a YouTube channel. Likewise, if you see your competitors doing well on Pinterest, it might make sense for you to be there too. 

What Information Do They Need?

Most of the content you share with your audience will be informational in one way or another, but the kind of information differs depending on the needs of the business. If you’re launching a new course, your content will mostly focus on what is included, what the results could be like, and other relevant information.

How Do Their Needs Match What You Want to be Known For? 

Recall what you want to be known for; does your content reflect that? If you want to be known as the go-to interior decorator for nurseries, do you also post other spaces like living rooms and patios? This could muddy the reputation you’re trying to build up for yourself, so make sure you’re only posting what reflects what you want to be known for.

What Kind of Cadence is Realistic?

Think about how often you want to post content. Does weekly make sense for your business and your audience? How about daily? Remember, what might work for one business does not work for all. Experiment with different cadences until you find the one that works for you.

Develop Content Pillars that Relate to the Stories You Want to Tell

Your content needs to align with the goals you set up for your business. If you simply want more people to know about your business, does your content reflect that goal? What about converting leads? Take a look at your goals and work backward to figure out how your content will align with them. 

Establishing content pillars is one way to avoid the struggle of not knowing what kind of content you want to create. Which overarching topics will you be consistently posting about? Once you have these pillars, you can start adding various stories to each pillar, so you’ll have an easier time pulling from this list when you need to create content. 

Now you can take your responses to all these questions and begin to brainstorm a structure and cadence for your content strategy. You can also experiment with an omnichannel approach or multi-channel. Omni-channel uses various channels that can all be used seamlessly for a better customer experience, whereas multi-channel uses these same channels individually to increase their reach. 

Once you have a structure and cadence thought out, you can start to develop a 6-month outline with a detailed 90-day plan. If you want to discuss creating a brand and content strategy for your business, feel free to contact me here, and we can set up a consultation. 

 

Re-evaluating Your Brand and Content Strategies

You should re-evaluate your content strategy every 90 days. It doesn’t mean you have to start over every 3 months. However, you should make sure that your game plan is still in total alignment with your goals and your reality.

What’s more, the digital marketing landscape is constantly changing, thus making it necessary to check if your strategy is still relevant. 

Ask yourself:

  • Is your audience at the target awareness level? 
  • Do they need to be given different information? 
  • Has a recent event caused your business to shift? 

There are a number of reasons why your content might need to go in a different direction after 3 months, but it’s also possible that it won’t have to. 

With your brand strategy, the timeline is a little longer. You should re-evaluate your brand strategy, web copy, and brand messaging every 1-3 years. You might have a new product or service release, maybe you’re making a pivot, or perhaps your target audience is shifting. Before making any changes, make sure to establish whether you have to revamp or redo your strategy. A revamp will keep your core message but shift some of the moving pieces around it. For example, you might have started as a nutrition coach, but are now offering workout coaching too. A redo is starting from scratch again, so if you were once a nutrition coach and now you’re only doing workout coaching, you’d need to re-establish your brand. 

 

The Difference of Leading with Strategy

Remember those clients I mentioned earlier? They saw incredible results from developing their brand strategy before their content strategy. My first client received significant funding as a result of our brand, messaging, and content strategy work. I’m currently working with them to craft personal branding and another content strategy for their strategic sales team so they can develop their own thought leadership content. My accounting firm client has added well over 6 figures in monthly recurring revenue and has a waiting list for new clients.

 

Skimping on Brand Strategy is a Recipe for Disaster

Your business has the potential to see incredible growth and results from developing a brand and content strategy. It just comes down to putting in the time and effort to ensure they’re solid. This doesn’t mean you need do a deep dive into brand strategy and create something more complicated than is necessary. However, not asking yourself questions about your client’s audience, their overall goals, and what they want to be known for is a big mistake.

Creating content for your business without having a brand or content strategy leads to a dartboard approach comprised of content that is not representative of what you want your brand to be. It doesn’t matter how good you are at creating content, if the content strategy doesn’t hit the high points of the brand, it will almost certainly fall flat.

If you want to learn more about creating a brand strategy or a content strategy for your business, schedule a consult… or if you know you’re ready to move forward, you can apply to join a 1-day 1:1 brand strategy workshop!

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