Can your content marketing strategy drive to your “brand” and help you stand out in the crowd? An interesting question… With many of the small and mid-sized professional services companies we work with, I can clearly see this happening.

First, just what is content marketing? Wikipedia says:

“Content marketing is an umbrella term encompassing all marketing formats that involve the creation or sharing of content for the purpose of engaging current and potential customer bases”.

Good enough. I like it. But what does this have to do with driving a “brand”? The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers”. IBM, Ford, and Apple all have recognisable (and extremely powerful) brands in the traditional sense, but what if you’re a small software services company, a law office, accounting firm, or plastic surgery centre? Do you have or can you build a traditional “brand” that is immediately recognisable and that carries credibility with your prospective customers? I seriously doubt it…

But if a brand can establish your identity and help to differentiate you from your competition, don’t you need one? You bet, and I’m suggesting that, for a lot of companies, you can drive some of the benefits that a well-known “brand” offers through your content marketing strategy. You want your prospective clients to remember you when they have a need for the products and services you can provide, and your content marketing strategy can help you drive a “brand” by helping to establish your identity, credibility, and capability.

Think about the way people buy, and this applies to both B2B and B2C companies. Buyers of professional services (IT, staffing, accounting, legal, private pay health/medical, etc, etc.) and specialised products (hardware solutions, software solutions, machinery, etc) will likely start with a referral or web search. Even if they start with a referral, I’d wager that most will still do research on the web. This is just the world we live in.

Let’s say they happen to find you and 4 other providers of the product or service they’re looking for. They then spend time on all 5 websites, looking at what is offered. Your competitors have what amounts to an online brochure, with pretty pictures, little substance, and link or form to “request more information”. You’ve optimised your site and have several articles, blog posts, presentations, papers, and videos providing real, value-add information that they find useful. They spend time and are convinced you to know your stuff, and fill out that form on your site or call you (you just generated a lead). To the visitor (now a lead), your content provided an identity, credibility, and a perception of your capability to help them, and differentiated you from your competitors. Even if they’re not ready to buy right this minute, who do you think they are likely to remember when they are?

Beyond helping you stand out with prospective buyers, a well thought out and executed content management strategy is what will consistently get you found online by your prospective buyers. A double win…

So, the next time you think about how you can differentiate your company and promote your “brand”, give serious thought to your content marketing strategy.