It's no longer enough for your business to simply sell a great product or service. Plenty of businesses do! Increasingly, consumers shop based on whether a company aligns with their goals, purpose or outlook. To reach them, your business needs to stand for something.
But in a world of content marketing, standing for something is about more than simply listing a handful of pillars on your website. It's about showing those values through your actions, partnerships, and campaigns.
Take Nike. A brand that was once mired in controversy about its outsourced labor has now come through as a supporter of social justice. Its recently announced Colin Kaepernick campaign is a powerful statement that aligns the brand with social justice efforts and the Black Lives Matter movements - a defiant stance that pits it against the blustering rhetoric of certain swathes of the populace. Nike also came out in defense of superstar Serena Williams after the French Open ruled that her Nike-designed catsuit did not meet attire regulations.
Both of these moments have been major wins for Nike. Both are examples of a content marketing approach that positions Nike as a brand that goes against norms, rails against authority and stands behind those in the right. Just do it, indeed.
So how can your brand do the same?
What is your Company's Purpose?
Gone are the days when businesses tried to remain agnostic on political, environmental and social issues. Today's brands need to be human - and being human means having values, opinions, and beliefs. Sure, you may lose potential customers on the opposite end of your values spectrum, but you'll gain the loyalty of those who are aligned with your beliefs.
Before you start branding your content, rallying people or partnering with influencers, you need to define your company's purpose. Because when you know who you are, communicating it is that much easier.
- What do people think about your company?
- What do you want them to think about you?
- What are your company's strengths?
- What makes you stand out?
- What is the ultimate goal of your company?
- What matters to you most of all?
When you know what matters, you can focus on solidifying your goals, purpose, and mission - and taking action to communicate them to the world. In doing so, it's crucial to be true to who you are. Don't try to shoehorn your business into a "feel-good" purpose or strategy if it's not who you really are. You won't be able to do it authentically, and consumers will call you out on it. So if you're selling single-use plastic doodads, skip the environmental focus and focus your efforts elsewhere.
(Need some tips on how other companies are doing it? Browse the companies who are certified B Corporations for inspiration.)
Remember, the gap between what people think about you and what you want them to think about you is critical. Define it, and you'll find your purpose.
Content marketing with a purpose
Now that you know you're why it's a lot easier to craft a content marketing campaign that supports it. After all, you're not just marketing a business anymore - you're marketing the ideas and values aligned with that business. And the best thing about ideas and values is that they resonate with people.
So start building a content marketing calendar with your "why" in mind. Your social media posts should embody it, your events should celebrate it, and your partnerships should extend it.
For example, if fair trade and human rights are your raison d'etre, take a leaf out of Tony Chocolonely's book and get others to join in on your mission. Flying in the face of other chocolate brands, this boutique chocolatier aims to end slavery in chocolate production - and everything from its packaging to its tweets to its Annual Fair Report are working to do so.
If environmental and social justice is at your core, look no further than Ben & Jerry's. Making the world a better place has been part of its mission since its founding, and the globally successful ice-cream business considers itself an "activist brand" (they even have a Corporate Activism Manager on staff). Browse through their blog, and you'll see that the majority of their content is focused on their social justice efforts - climate change, gerrymandering, and voter ID laws are just a few recent topics!
Sure, there's some risk that you'll alienate some potential consumers. But the bigger risk is staying "neutral" and being deemed irrelevant.
Purposeful content marketing matters. If it didn't, brands wouldn't be spending millions on Superbowl ads that highlight water stewardship and hurricane relief.
Consumers want you to take a stand. Do it, do it well, and go make the world a better place with a content marketing campaign that's about more than selling widgets.