Bill Gates's "Content is king" comment has never been truer for B2B companies than it is right now. The digital world has changed things... for the better. Access to information has never been easier, and we've all become used to the idea of immediate gratification. We don't want to wait for things we want, and we certainly don't want to sift through a ton of information to figure out what we need (who has the time?!).
So, if content is king, simplicity is queen—and brands need to be ready with a strategy that delivers both.
To reach consumers and provide superior customer experiences every time, we need to deliver content that's streamlined, simple, and personal. To that end, we need to understand what's important to buyers—and a growing number of buyers cite shared-purpose as a reason to buy from (and work for) a company.
Recent research by Cone underscores that fact:
- 78% of consumers say companies must do more than just make money; they must positively impact society, as well.
- 77% say they feel a stronger emotional connection to purpose-driven companies over traditional companies.
- 66% say they would switch from a product they typically buy to a new product from a purpose-driven company.
- 68% say they are more willing to share a purpose-driven businesses' content with their social networks than they would traditional companies' content.
And if you want to build a strong and thriving workforce, purpose is again a key differentiator in attracting and retaining top talent. Millennials, who will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025, are actively seeking socially responsible employers. They are the "purpose over paycheck" generation (and Gen-Z is coming up right behind them, and doubling-down. Are you ready?)
If you're a content marketer, it's time for you to work your company's social purpose into the pieces you're producing.
Know Your Purpose
Companies need to be clear on their corporate purpose if they are going to work it into a strong, evolving content strategy. And that purpose needs to be authentic and relatable. It also needs to inspire.
That sounds good, but how do you find that purpose?
Talk. Share. Collaborate. Interview customers about what matters most to them. Find out what your target audience is passionate about and see how it aligns to your business. Above all, talk to people at every level in your own company to sort out what matters most them. If you rely only on executives to make these decisions, you'll have a purpose that feels disingenuous and trite.
Defining a highly specific social purpose marks a clear path to follow when creating content about what matters most to your company and about how you can deliver value to your clients.
But here's the thing: It's not enough to define your purpose; you must continue to hone it over time. Doing so reflects authenticity and a strong commitment to using your business as a force for good, which consumers love.
The more a company grows, the more opportunities you have to help solve some of the most pressing social issues facing us today.
Content With Heart
Once your social purpose is defined and your company is fully committed to making it a reality, you're ready to start producing content.
Think about the type of content that grabs people. More often than not, it tugs at your heartstrings and strikes an emotional chord. Simply, it leaves you wanting to be better and do better. That's purpose-driven content!
To ensure you capture the voice of your company authentically, get input and feedback on blog-post angles, video ideas, and infographics—from all levels in the company. And know your customer base intimately. Look at what's trending with them, and take advantage of opportunities that allow you to connect with them from a purpose standpoint. No one did this better than Nike with their recent Colin Kaepernick ad. Although there was initial outrage among some customers, Nike knew its core audience and it aligned its message to that larger and growing audience. It paid off in spades!
Even if you're working on content that's not purpose-driven in nature, it's OK to weave in corporate social responsibility (CSR) messaging, if doing so makes sense. It keeps the company's commitment highlighted, but it can also provide an edge over the competition.
account-based marketing (ABM), for instance, is a consistent theme in the B2B marketing world, so finding a way to connect your purpose to ABM efforts is a smart move.
Case studies are a good way to incorporate purpose-based messaging while showing how well your organization performed for a buyer, especially if that client signed on at least in part because of your social mission. There's no better marketing for your social programs than having a customer explain how you contributed to their success.
Measure Your Purpose
Measuring your purpose-driven content isn't any different from measuring other content you produce. It's important to hold your purpose-driven content up to the same standards.
Look at inbound traffic. Is your piece about improving the skills of incarcerated women bringing in as much traffic as your article about your new service offering? You need to measure what's driving traffic, filling your pipeline, and converting to sales. You need to identify what's working, what's not, and how to make adjustments along the way.
For example, in recognition of the Fourth of July holiday, I wrote a blog post for our company about what freedom means to me. As a woman incarcerated but actively working to better my life, my definition of freedom is likely different from yours. In writing about that, I put my company's purpose front and center, but also made it personal. We measured the piece and saw that it performed better than any other content on our blog. We knew immediately that readers felt an emotional connection to an authentically written story.
Our clients shared that blog post with others, and it took on a life of its own. The word-of-mouth marketing brought new people into the conversation on how we do business—with social responsibility at the forefront.
* * *
Your content strategy is more than a marketing initiative; it ripples through your entire organization and becomes the heartbeat of your workforce. Whether you're producing blogs, videos, overviews, or other content resources, if your company has a strong social mission, there's room for it in these pieces.
As always, look at what matters to your client base and measure what reaches them. If your social purpose is meaningful and authentic, you'll be pleasantly surprised by how well your purpose-driven content overperforms.
- Get alignment on your corporate social purpose and understand the company's commitment to it before you produce any related content.
- Seek input from all levels of the company on what to produce and how your social messages resonate.
- Produce content that's specific to your social purpose, but don't be afraid to sprinkle your socially responsible messages into your non-purpose driven content, too, if it makes sense.
- Measure all your content the same way. What's driving traffic, filling your pipeline and converting to sales. Purpose-driven content isn't above having to contribute to the bottom line.
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