When setting up your marketing plan, you want to make sure that your content serves a purpose. Â So we have this great blog by,Â Brian Honigman,Â on just how to do so. Â If you need help with anything on your web let us know and we will be glad to help.
Nearly all content marketing advice is broken out into one of two trains of thought.
First there is the tactical advice. These are things likeÂ best practices, optimization and anything else that deals with improvements at the micro-level.
Zooming out one step is strategic advice. These are the considerations that help to guide and organize our tactics. They deal more with things like how content marketing can be used toÂ build your online presenceÂ and SEO.
Both of these are important and rely on each other, but there is a missing third category that is rarely considered when talking about content marketing success.
Beyond strategy and tactics, it is necessary to have a clear purpose that informs all of your content decisions. This purposeful element is a crucial component of any cohesive and effective content marketing effort.
Purpose Provides Direction
As Iâ€™ve gone over countless times, the organizations that create truly compelling brands are the ones that have a clear set of beliefs that fuel their decision-making.
In a few other articles Iâ€™ve argued the importance of starting with why, as highlighted byÂ Simon Sinekâ€™s â€œGolden Circleâ€Â methodology. It just so happens that the hierarchy of purpose then strategy then tactics aligns perfectly to the Golden Circle framework.
In much the same way that purpose driven organizations can shift nimbly between various products and processes, purpose-driven content efforts can embrace a varied and complicated set of strategies and still remain cogent. Not only do purpose-driven organizations tell powerful stories, but these stories tend to fit naturally together when they all fall along the same general lines.
PreviouslyÂ I mentioned how the online design-tool Canva has built a sophisticated yet coherent content strategy by being purpose driven. Despite the fact that their content mix is fairly diverse, the broad mix works. Since their message (we want to make design accessible) is so clear, their story remains consistent regardless of what strategic or tactical choices they make with their content.
Purpose Trickles Down
Often times you see companies or organizations that are just starting out with social or content marketing and they quickly get very frustrated by their lack of results. And this is not for lack of effort either.
Typically, the small business owner might have read up on all the tactical advice she could get her hands and maybe even started delving into strategic elements, yet is still struggling to make an impact with their efforts.
Even if you know that a 100-character tweet sent out on a Wednesday at 3:00 is ideal it still wonâ€™t mean that you have anything to actually fill those 100 characters with. And what ends up happening more often than not is that when in doubt businesses tend to simply promote themselves.
Content marketing is almost never good at purely promoting your product or service. Youâ€™ve got toÂ earn that right to promoteÂ and typically the way you do that is by providing value based off of consumer insights.
Purpose is one of the most surefire ways to make sure that you consistently have great content that all aligns to a specific story.
In other words, purpose will fuel strategy which will then be improved via tactics.
Content is Great at Communicating Purpose
Not only is purpose great at inspiring content and aligning your efforts, but content itself (when approached this way) will clearly communicate your purpose and help build your audience around that cause or story.
In this sense, content and purpose are uniquely symbiotic with one another. Content helps communicate purpose and purpose helps drive content creation, strategy and implementation.
This exact sentiment is expressed powerfully by digital marketing legendÂ Neil Patel.When I asked him for his thoughts on why purpose is crucial for content marketing, this is how he responded:
It is very important to have purpose behind your marketing efforts. If you can market your business based on helping other companies and individuals you are much more likely to be successful compared to if you just marketed based on monetary reasons.
For example, marketing by creating content that educates is a great way to help other people and generate signups at the same time.
The essence of Patelâ€™s advice (a core idea that has proven itself in driving his own massive success) is that really great content marketing doesnâ€™t just communicate a marketing message, it reinforces that key beliefâ€“the brand purposeâ€“ through the value the content itself delivers.
In other words, not only does purpose enhance content marketing, but great content marketing will in turn solidify your purpose and build your brand.
Below are three examples of brandâ€™s succeeding at content marketing by embracing this principle.
Bonobos Entertains as it Promotes
BonobosÂ is one of the fastest growing e-commerce fashion brands and they have blurred the lines between e-commerce and content creation.
The story they tell is that they believe that shopping is a pain for young professional guys and that it should be fun, easy and you should still look great and shop smart.
Every asset they produce, whether itâ€™s promotional or not aligns with this fundamentally simple story.
While Bonobos is actually fairly reliant on promotional messaging, their approach is so refreshing and generous (and aligns so strongly with their brand purpose) that it rarely feels like promotion at all.
One example that made waves through the digital marketing world earlier this year was a seemingly regular email with the curious subject line â€œ=VLOOKUP(Your boss is behind you).â€
Attached to this otherwise normal looking email was a spreadsheet that opened to reveal a full Bonobos shopping experience executed entirely in a seemingly banal looking Excel format.
The ideaâ€“communicated brilliantlyâ€“was that for the young guy at work this would be the perfect incognito way to shop.
Sure, the spreadsheet was full of calls to action and promotional messaging, the packaging of these messages was so creative and aligned so strongly with the brandâ€™s purpose (to make it easy and fun for young urban professionals to shop) that the promotion was a rousing success.
Refinery29 is Entirely Content-Driven
Even more so than Bonobos,Â Refinery29Â is a pure hybrid of content and commerce
They occupy some middle ground between magazine, curator and ecommerce and whatever it is theyâ€™re doing is working perfectly.
Just like Bonobos, their story is simple. They believe that great fashion is something everyone should enjoy, but that the old fashion guard was stodgy, non-inclusive and didnâ€™t speak to the millennial generation in a way they understood.
Refinery29 started with this purpose and then began building their brand with content that fit this story. Starting in a small apartment with $5,000 and putting out just one article a week, they exploded into one of the fastest growing media companies with over 1,800 articles now being published each month.
What Refinery29 does so well is that they have built an audience that is willing to receive them well whether they are delivering content or promotional material. They are so receptive to this content because they buy into Refinery29â€™s purpose.
To make this point even clearer, Refinery29 doesnâ€™t even brand itself an e-commerce store. They are much more of an editorial-driven company with the shopping feature (itâ€™s the menu option farthest to the right as if to suggest itâ€™s lack of emphasis) as more of a value-add than anything.
Imagine if Vogueâ€™s glossy adds and chic write-ups had a click-to-buy option. Nevertheless, this melding of brand, purpose and content has transformed Refinery29 into a fashion commerce juggernaut.
Chipotle Gives Fast-Food Soul Through Creative Content
In 2015, Fortune released its oft-quoted list of theÂ â€œMost Admired Brands.â€Â While some on the list didnâ€™t shock anyone, there was one newcomer that beat out a giant.
That company was Chipotle, and they came in at #44, two spots above industry titan McDonaldâ€™s.
From a standing start in 1993, Chipotle had done in 22 years what McDonaldâ€™s couldnâ€™t do with billions of marketing dollars and accrued brand equity stretching over half-a-century. Chipotle buit a successful, profitable efficient fast-food brand with real soul.
Not only do customersÂ like their food, theyÂ really love it. Chipotle customers also admire the brand and their policies towards the environment and their workers.
In a time where every move the fast-food industry makes is coming under fire, Chipotle seems to be cementing a position as the antithesis of this negative press.
While a lot of this owes to Chipotleâ€™s policies, management and commitments; all of these wouldnâ€™t have the same marketing power if it werenâ€™t communicated brilliantly.
Whether Chipotle is releasing anÂ elegant videoÂ soundtracked by Willie Nelson commenting on the state of the farming industry orÂ a full-fledged mini-seriesmocking the fast-food industry, Chipotle masters content marketing at every turn.
Itâ€™s telling that the aforementioned series,Â Farmed and DangerousÂ is (to quote IMDB) â€œ[a] satire of the length a corporation will go to create a positive image.â€ This stands in stark contrast to the authenticity and truth to which Chipotle sticks to their core purpose and uses content marketing to spearhead the communication of these efforts.
This is perhaps the most literal example of purpose informing your content. Chipotle has proven itself the master of this technique, but any brand (big or small) can take a page from them, Neil Patel, Refinery29 or Bonobos.
In order to succeed at building a brand with purpose, content marketing is a great place to start, and the very act of following this strategy will go great lengths towards cementing your organizationâ€™s core purpose and beliefs.
Brian Honigman is a New York City-based content marketing consultant and CEO of Honigman Media, a consultancy offering both content strategy and content creation services. He is a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and other publications.