When created and distributed correctly, content can help brands form powerful human relationships with members of its audience, and that connection is every modern marketer’s dream. It builds trust and loyalty, and it sets your brand apart from others in the same space. But how do you build that connection?
The kind of content you create and where you decide to publish it — whether through media that you own, earn, pay for, or some combination of each — makes all the difference. Your audience members aren’t looking for content that’s overly promotional or more of an advertisement in disguise. They’re not looking to read or hear all about you and why you’re the best in the business. Audiences want exceptional, engaging content delivered to them in a way that’s creative and authentic.
As companies continue integrating content into their marketing strategies — like 88 percent of B2B marketers — what will separate effective content your audience loves to engage with from just more noise will be the authenticity and creativity that shape it.
What Creative Content Looks Like
There’s more than one way to weave creativity and authenticity into your content, but it never hurts to take a lesson or two from other brands that have found success with it already. These brands and the content they’re creating and distributing will inspire your efforts to reach and engage with your audience:
- GE and National Geographic’s Partnership on “Breakthrough”: GE partnered with National Geographic to bring us “Breakthrough,” a six-part video series, directed by six famous directors, about the cutting edge of science and its intersection with human storytelling.
What makes this partnership so interesting (and effective) is that neither organization “sponsored” the content. It wasn’t an ad in disguise for any partner, and it wasn’t just a way for one to attach its name to a project that the other spearheaded. It was truly a collaborative, creative effort filled with authenticity, and the results of that creative collaboration showcase how creating content that aligns with your brand, is valuable to your audience, and is easy to consume increases content visibility and, ultimately, your audience’s engagement with it.
- Umpqua Bank and “Open Account”: Umpqua Bank isn’t your typical banking institution. With elements of a company culture that more closely resemble a creative agency than a financial institution, Umpqua Bank takes different approaches to banking practices. And by embracing what makes it different and weaving that creative thinking into its content, Umpqua Bank has found success with its podcast, “Open Account,” hosted by SuChin Pak.
Much like the institution itself, Umpqua Bank’s podcast is different. “Open Account” dives into the personal and practical reality of money. Instead of focusing on the economy or personal finance strategies in an abstract or general sense, this podcast dissects the personal factors that influence how we interact with money and why our understanding of that is important to financial growth and success.
The “Open Account” podcast’s availability on various streaming services and its promotion on social media make it easy for its audience to find and engage with it. And because it’s true to the voice of the brand that created it and directly addresses the needs of its audience, the podcast has been tremendously successful.
- Zapier’s E-Book on Remote Teams: Creative content doesn’t have to take the form of newer media exclusively, though. While social, video, and audio are increasingly valuable, digital written content is still necessary and effective, and there are plenty of innovative approaches you can take to create and distribute it.
Zapier, a company that empowers its users to improve efficiency and productivity by customizing online app automations, is powered by remote employees. In a move that’s authentic to its brand’s philosophy, Zapier has filled its blog with helpful, educational content around productivity, automation, and how to work as part of a remote team.
But rather than let that content sit on the blog to collect dust as new posts are published, Zapier took a more creative approach: compiling blog content into an e-book called
Wade Foster, Zapier’s co-founder and CEO, explained it like this:
“We had already written a bunch of blog posts over the years about how we do remote work. We were so close to a book, so we decided to fill in the gaps and turn it into a book because books tend to get more long-term attention than blog posts. It’s been read more than 50,000 times, and it ranks second on Amazon’s list of books on remote work. Plus, it goes a long way to explaining to potential new teammates just how Zapier works.”
This approach not only maximizes the value and impact of that blog content, but it also delivers it in a way that’s easy for Zapier’s audience — from potential customers to future hires — to find, share, and engage with.
Integrating Creativity and Authenticity Into Your Strategy
These brands’ creativity has allowed them to communicate their messages with their own voices and establish more authentic connections with their audiences — connections that build trust and loyalty, strengthen engagement, and increase visibility.
There will always be new ways to create and distribute content. No matter what form your content takes, it will always be necessary to craft and publish it with creativity and authenticity. Integrate these ideas into your strategy by reviewing best practices for authentic thought leadership, and you’ll begin building stronger connections with your audience that boost your content’s reach and effectiveness.