By Nicole Ertas, author of Free Range Brands
Content Marketing. Everybody’s doing it. Seems easy enough. If talk is cheap, writing is cheaper. Words on a page. Words on the screen. Millions and millions of screens. If you should be so lucky.
But if you are the content creator, you know the task is harder than what it may seem at the onset. How many ways can you reiterate your product message? How many different conversations can you really get off the ground? How much engagement are you getting? Is anything resonating? Is anyone listening? Day after day, month after month – how can you keep the conversation fresh, yet relevant to your brand?
On the receiving end, the onslaught of words coming from brands or companies trying to get noticed is deafening. Yet, it seems nearly every brand builder, business builder, or content marketer, in his or her quest to create endless content, has forgotten the obvious: Connections are made emotionally. And emotion is sparked one and only one way: personally.
So how does one get personal when creating content for an imagined mass of prospective consumers when all you seem to have in common is the potential interest in or usage of your product or service?
It starts with a single-most, counter-intuitive rule: stop talking about yourself. Stop talking about what you have, what you do, why you’re better. Look around and you’ll notice, most brands are simply talking on and on about themselves. Why you should consider them, how they’ll solve your problems, why they are different. And we tune them out.
The brands that strike the real chords share a common trait: they don’t talk about themselves. And, yes, even with daily expectations of content creation, they are able to engage us without pushing their “brand narratives.” They find a way to reflect the audience’s story, not their own.
Let Your Consumers tell Their Story.
Driving engagement is not about hawking product, but linking product values to audience values.
It was just a year ago when the Adidas brand was looking like a has-been as Nike and Under Armour took center stage. Not anymore. Adidas is running fast, posting double-digit growth quarter after quarter, outpacing the growth of both brands by putting cultural relevancy front and center, inviting consumers to get their creativity on and make their own version of the brand, putting the consumer in the spotlight.
“The other brands are very traditional in how they tell their story,” says North America President Mark King. “We are deeply engaged in society and culture and bring that together in performance and style. That’s why this brand has become cool almost overnight.”
Be the Backdrop, not the Star.
New York’s pop-up Museum of Ice Cream sold through all 30,000 tickets in less than a week, attracting over 30 brands to the concept like ants to a fallen scoop of Rocky Road by creating an environment 100% dedicated to taking selfies, proving yet again the power of creating experiences over slinging product.
Look at Qantas Airlines. Qantas doesn’t talk about its features and price. It sets the stage of an epic vacation with an Out of Office app that puts you in the spotlight, and Qantas as the facilitator of your adventure.
So before you start to engage by talking about your products, your services, your promotions and deals, remember: it’s not what your product does, or why it’s different or better. It’s no longer about putting your brand name front and center. It’s just not about you anymore. Put the microphone down. Turn your cameras around and back off. You might find your brand engages more when it talks about itself a little less.
Nicole Ertas is a recognized global brand strategist, author, and speaker who has helped build many of the world’s finest and most powerful brands. Nicole’s success in global innovation and brand leadership gained her recognition in Forbes and The New York Times, as well as selected to be one of Crain’s Chicago 40 Under 40. Her book, Free Range Brands, will be published in January. Follow Nicole on Twitter @freerangebrands.