Think about how your mom used to call your name when you were a kid. There were probably a few variations in her tone based on the situation. For example:
- If she needed you to answer a question, she was probably calm and collected. No need to worry.
- If she wanted you to complete a task or finish your chores, she might have been more firm. You should probably do it now but she’s not about to punish you.
- When she was ready to dole out a punishment after you broke the rules, her voice was likely stern and serious. Possibly making you nervous about how long you’d be grounded.
- And the pièce de résistance: yelling your first and middle name with such force that you just know she’s about to rain fire down on your life because she’s discovered the especially stupid or destructive thing you did and tried to hide. This typically comes in the form of a yell so terrifying it incites the fear of God in your heart and sends you running for the nearest hiding place.
Your mom’s voice is content type. I know that’s a sharp segue, but think about it. Her tone told you everything you needed to know about what she was about to say and whether or not you wanted to be part of the conversation. Each example even served a specific purpose, such as to educate, engage or inspire you to do something.
I’m not advocating you fuss at your customers, but you can spin this tactic to benefit your brand. Certain approaches convey certain things to certain audiences. So all you have to do is tap into the right types of content for your target audience to boost your brand awareness and start drawing more of a crowd.
Content Marketing Promotes Brand Awareness
Here’s the thing: People can’t buy from you if they don’t know you exist. But with the saturation of businesses in the market, getting consumers’ attention is like waving from the nosebleed seats at the lead singer of your favorite band. You have to get to the front row if you want to be noticed, ideally with a large sign.
Your content marketing is your ticket to center stage. When executed correctly, it’s a lead generation machine that puts your brand directly in front of interested consumers and shows them you have the solution to their problems.
The trick to doing this effectively is to make sure you’re taking the right stage. It would be kind of awkward for a Metallica cover band to run onto Willie Nelson’s set. I don’t think his fans would be into it. So don’t do that. Match your content type to the audience you want to serve.
When driving awareness, you want to carefully consider what content will best suit your audience. You can target people in all stages of the buyer journey, but content lends itself particularly well to the awareness stage. Because in this stage, people need information and your content can provide it. So let’s look at what types of content are best for driving awareness.
Matching Content to the Customer Journey
When you’re building brand awareness, you want to target customers in the awareness stage. (No surprise there.) There are plenty of ways to present content that can help you do this, and we’ll talk about them in just a second. First, I need to mention another part of your marketing strategy—messaging.
Just like particular pieces of content are better at fostering awareness, certain messages resonate more clearly with potential customers in this stage. To help guide you, I made this short list of rules for creating high-quality content:
- Reflect your company’s values in your content.
Give people a firm understanding of who you are and what you stand for so they can identify with more than just your products.
- Offer as much value as possible without expecting anything in return.
At this point in the journey, you want to be a resource more than anything. Don’t worry about marketing efforts being wasted either. As people begin to trust your brand because of what they’ve read, you’ll start seeing more conversions.
- No sales pitches.
Not one. A sales pitch to a newly aware lead is like running at a rabbit in an open field. You take two steps forward and they’re gone. Let your CTAs be suggestions of next steps if someone wants to move forward and offer more information for people who aren’t quite ready yet.
- Give them a reason to care.
We were all aware of global warming in the ’90s, but we didn’t know we were supposed to care about it. Address common pain points your customers face and show them how their life could be better with your brand.
Types of Content
When people think about types of content, they usually call to mind all the different formats out there. And they’re not wrong. We’ll talk about formats in a minute, but first I want to talk about purpose.
Content type refers to the purpose of your blog, webinar, podcast, etc. The purpose for your brand is almost always to drive traffic, so now you need to determine the purpose for your audience. What are you hoping to accomplish in their lives with this piece of content?
When speaking to people in the awareness stage, there are types of content that are especially beneficial:
The biggest obstacle in the awareness stage is often just keeping people on your page. Entertaining content is focused on grabbing their attention and holding it all the way to the end. You can do this by being funny, relatable or offering a unique perspective.
Most businesses hover in this space with their awareness stage content. You can use educational content to teach prospects about certain aspects of your business, explain why you offer particular services or examine common problems and how you can help solve them. These pieces can help you become a thought leader in your industry and establish trust and credibility with your audience.
This isn’t about furthering someone’s personal goals. It’s about getting them excited to be part of your brand. You want to inspire action. Some of the best formats for inspirational content are case studies and video content that show a success story. The point is to illustrate how you can make a difference and inspire leads to work with you.
Now that we know the three types of content for awareness stage leads, we can look at how to implement them in different content formats.
Blogs are my favorite format. Not just because I write two or three a day, but because they’re so darn versatile! They’re the bedrock of every content marketing strategy, plus they boost your SEO, plus they provide content for social media posts. I could go on, but I’ll stop myself.
The point is, blogs can support all three format types and so naturally lend themselves to the awareness stage. Different types of blogs can support different purposes more effectively, so let’s look at your options.
Although typically used to educate, narrative content can also be entertaining. This is all of your long-form blogs, white papers and downloadables. The blogs are typically found through a keyword search, which means you can target the content to specific users and capture organic traffic.
There’s no better way to match search intent than by answering specific questions. How-to’s are directly educational pieces that sum up complex problems, address common questions and provide a step-by-step solution.
Lists can be particularly useful in information-dense fields, such as insurance, finance or tech. It’s an easy way to break down complex topics so they’re easier for leads to understand. Creating effective lists is a great way to educate people and inspire them to work with your brand. Why should they go through a complicated process when you’re happy to do it for them?
These can educate, entertain and inspire depending on your topic and guest. Often companies will use these pieces as a chance to speak with a senior member of the organization or get helpful insights from an industry expert. The main purpose is usually to educate, but the informal style means the interviewee’s personality can shine through and entertain an audience. If you’re speaking with someone who had a previous success with your brand, it could even inspire others to engage with you.
- Success stories
These are the ultimate inspirational blogs! They play on a psychological marketing tactic called social proof, which means people trust other consumers more than brands. Use customer testimonials and success stories to show prospects how good life with your brand can be.
There’s a reason cat videos are so popular, and it’s not just because cats are adorable. It’s because videos are easy to consume. In fact, they’re so easy that it’s estimated that 82% of all internet traffic is watching videos.
Suffice to say, you don’t want to leave video content out of your digital marketing. Because they’re so dynamic, videos are naturally entertaining, plus you can use them as an educational platform.
For example, you might make a video describing a product or service to potential clients. You could show how it works, talk through the process or explain how your brand approaches the problem. You can even use webinars or live videos to interact directly with an audience, then publish them later for the rest of your customer base.
Videos can also inspire action. Take that Q&A blog you’re planning or the success story you want to publish and record the interview process. Publish that video so people can not only read the story, but know the person. This creates a deeper personal and emotional connection that pushes them to join your brand.
As an added bonus, videos are excellent examples of shareable content. Put snippets on your social media platforms or embed them in emails. Encourage people to spread the word and make it easy for them to share with others. As customers and leads share your videos with others, you’ll reach a wider and wider audience that might never have found you otherwise.
Who loves charts? I’ll raise my hand first, so don’t be shy. Charts are awesome because they give you a visual representation of complex information. And in case you didn’t know, humans are overwhelmingly visual learners. We actually retain more information from an infographic or chart than we do from reading a blog.
Infographics draw in people like me with pretty colors and clean lines, then concisely teach you something entirely new. That’s why they’re the perfect format for educational content.
There are a few things to keep in mind when designing an infographic to ensure it produces the desired results:
- Quality is key
If you don’t have a graphic designer on staff, try to find a premade template you can fill in. You want the information to be valuable and the design to be appealing so it immediately engages people.
- Use new information
Plenty of brands use infographics as a summary of their blog content, which is a great plan if you do it well. The key to a successful infographic is not adding too much repetitive information. Let your infographic be the roadmap for the conversation and offer unique insights outside of your blog. It should be able to integrate with other content and stand alone.
- Share them!
Video isn’t the only visual content suited for social media marketing. Share your infographics across all your platforms and include links that go back to your website. This can help drive leads to your landing pages, which in turn can boost conversions.
Have you ever read a biography or memoir that was so inspiring you started making concrete changes in your life just to be like the author? I once read a book about a blind lawyer that moved me to start researching accessibility issues for the visually impaired. I was inspired by her grit and wanted to take positive action.
Case studies can have this effect on your prospects. Okay, probably not to the same degree as reading a book about a blind lawyer, but the point stands. When they see exactly how you helped others, they’ll want in.
Keep in mind that content is a long-game. People might be inspired to take action, but that doesn’t mean they’ll do it right now. You will, however, stay top of mind whenever that client or someone they know faces the problem your brand addresses.
Case studies inspire action through social proof. So you can leave the warm and fuzzies to the subject matter. Your job is to tell prospects what that action should be. How can they experience the same success? (Hint: this comes in the form of clear, concise CTAs.)
Resources and Tools
These are two common sections on a business website. It helps to make you an encyclopedia of value for new leads and prospects. It also positions your brand as an educational resource.
You want to offer enough information for people to develop a solid understanding of your brand and industry, then decide for themselves if it’s right for them. Gently guiding people this way helps you introduce them to your sales funnel without using “salesy” tactics that might turn off more judicious buyers.
That being said, people don’t know what they don’t know. They might have an idea of what’s troubling them, but haven’t pinpointed the exact problem yet. For this reason, it helps to organize your information in broad categories that make solutions easy to find.
Within these categories, compile a list of resources that explain more specific topics. Search engine algorithms assign your website more clout if these are internal posts, but adding some information from outside sources can often be helpful too. Focus these resources on educating people who are new to your industry and at the very beginning of their customer journey.
I hear your mother calling…
Your brand can be the sweet, calming maternal voice from the next room, beckoning new leads to the dinner table for warm cookies. You just need to make sure you know what type of content you’re creating, what format best suits the purpose and that your messaging matches the awareness stage.
I could talk about content all day long, so if you’re interested in learning more or about how Lone Fir Creative can help your business, reach out! We’d love to get to know your brand and help you boost awareness.