Finding your online value proposition through education
Positioning your brand as an educator with deep domain knowledge could be considered your online value proposition (OVP) and help your wider organisation pivot their approach by doing something your competition is not.
This starts with your audience, understanding their needs and building your content strategy around their requirements.
It could be an opportunity to build something that is unique and remarkable within your industry sector, to become a knowledge centre for your audience.
So, what is a knowledge centre?
The primary aim of transforming your brand into a knowledge centre is to become the go-to destination for information, advice, helpful and relevant content tailored to the audience your brand is wanting to attract. This approach can help build an “anchor brand”, a phrase defined by Forrester in 2016 as a brand built on authority, trust and relevancy.
Content provides the platform to help reconnect your brand with your audience needs.
To do this requires your brand audit and assess the environment in which they operate. Take a step back from the tactical elements of the content strategy and look at the brand, it’s mission and the content being created.
Ask the question: Why do you exist? What do you offer? What is it your audience needs from the industry that you could be providing?
Example: Geek Squad
Geek Squad have built their narrative around answering customer problems through helpful, short videos. Anyone can access Geek Squad video content, whether you are a customer or not. Their view is that positioning themselves as a teacher helps to not only build the authority of the brand but also indirectly, attract new audiences.
Organisational theorist David Aaker (Building Strong Brands, 2011) supports the notion that the emergence of websites as knowledge centres has allowed brands to become go-to authorities for the sector in which they operate.
This view is also supported by author Mitch Joel, who writes in his book, Ctrl Alt Delete (2013) that many brands fail to realise that “the branding opportunity is not of broadcasting the messages but that the true marketing story is to tell a great brand narrative, a story that takes place over time and through different channels.”
And it’s in this narrative, this trusted voice where a content strategy plays a key role in bringing the idea of a knowledge centre to life, meeting the needs of the audience, rather than the organisation.
Robert Rose, writing for the Content Advisory, explains that “The better argument for content strategy should be that it creates a process that can move the creation of content as close to the customer as possible.
It’s the only way to balance enterprise scalability, and a consistency in brand, customer experience, and effectiveness, while moving the creation of content as close to the customer as possible”.
Finding the right narrative
Building a trusted narrative relevant to your audience provides the foundation from which to build your unique content approach. But finding what that narrative should be is tricky.
There are many examples of organisations deciding to take a content approach but failing to keep the momentum moving forward in producing relevant content.
This could be for a number of reasons – lack of internal support, lack of senior management buy-in, little understanding of how to measured success and tie it back to the business objectives, or treating content as a communications campaign with a start and end date.
What’s essential is building a credible narrative, something that not only helps to get organisational buy-in but something you can easily call on for contributors to generate content ideas and activities.
All organisations have a topic on which to educate, teach and provide advice – after all isn’t that one of the key reasons why your organisation exists?
Your organisation was established to fill a need or desire and just by looking around internal departments there is most likely a pool of people that can contribute or provide support to building a narrative.
Example: River Pools
River Pools – Marcus Sheridan, founder of River Pools and Spa is the classic example of just this. In the height of the recession he pivoted his approach, building a content narrative by answering customer questions. The company curated customer service calls, questions and insights and turned this into content through blog posts, website content and explainers.
This approach positioned River Pools as a teacher brand to help and provide advice and support to would-be customers looking to purchase a swimming pool. Through customer insights and information gathering, the company optimised its content, packaged it and promoted it in the right channels.
So, could you see yourself as a teacher? The best teacher in your niche? Content provides you with that opportunity to re-position and market your brand by helping your audience, not by hyping your product.