Let's face it, life rarely goes as planned. When things go awry and we face uphill battles, adversity, failures, and disappointment it can range the gamut from bummer to devastation. Wherever disappointment falls on the scale, there's one thing all these experiences share.
Whether you’re marketing your personal brand, your own business, or are a career marketing professional, having an in-depth understanding of your brand and how to incorporate it into your campaign and content strategy is vital for consistent growth.
Marketers for largely successful companies like Coca-Cola, Nike, and Target know long-term influences can add real strength to pretty much any purchase decision. They do this through careful branding strategies which recognize that a target audience will consume things and services that they like and are familiar with and that have predictable, desirable, and dependable qualities. Brand identity isn’t the same as a business model or a marketing plan: a brand is a way of communicating to the audience what they’ll get if they buy from the company. Marketing professionals at big name companies steadfastly maintain these brands to ensure consumers consistently get what the brand has long been known for.
Having a solid brand identity is necessary for effective business operations because it allows everybody on the marketing team to get things done faster and move forward more efficiently by keeping them all on the same page. Good branding also allows for more efficient marketing campaigns, especially for brands that care just as much about social change as they do turning a profit.
When your company aligns its core values with a cause, you cast a wider net that attracts your target market and draws more people to notice the social change or cause your brand champions. Broadcasting your company’s mission like this is a helpful tactic for building brand loyalty and repeat customers.
In a digital world with fierce competition for the audience’s attention, quality content is king. Every piece of content you create – blog posts and white papers, email newsletters, social media assets, photo and video, etc. – should be carefully crafted to align with your brand and marketing goals. Any digital marketing strategist knows this. It’s not new information. This need for creating evergreen content can create a huge amount of stress when you are feeling stuck or uninspired… now add to that your teams working remotely and the whole social distancing during a pandemic aspect and things become exponentially more daunting.
Whether you are working remotely or your company doesn’t have access to an in-house studio, the need to be able to create content as part of your digital marketing strategy remains the same. That’s why we are going to share our top tips and favorite tools to help marketing professionals and content creators at all levels create content without a studio.
What is Evergreen Content, and Why Does it Matter?
To be able to efficiently create content you need to understand what evergreen content is and is not. The most basic definition is simply content that continues to be relevant after it’s posted. Usually people think of this in terms of SEO and copy for blog posts (just like this one!), white papers, or newsletters that can be continually repurposed for social media and other channels– more on this later.
So why is it important to have evergreen content as part of your digital marketing strategy? The most glaringly obvious reason is because it is relevant all year long, year after year. This means better website traffic and brand awareness because presumably it’s valuable information that will be shared and linked back to over time. This helps to establish your brand as an authoritative voice in your industry by showcasing your experience and business expertise, which is a fantastic way to promote your business while also helping you better serve your clients.
How to Create Effective Content For Your Brand
The key to any content creation strategy is to make sure you have clearly defined goals for the content and the campaign the content is for as well as knowing who you’re creating this content for so you will best know how to reach your audience. Once you have that down, it’s time to move on to the fun part.
For the purpose of this post, we will talk about creating audio and video content together because though different mediums the creation process is similar, as are the tools and basic editing skills.
If you create a loose outline ahead of time, you can save yourself a whole lot of time recording and headaches in editing later. Briefly listing your key points ensures you stay on topic and don’t forget anything important that you wanted to say. It may be tempting to just write out a whole script for yourself, but that requires far more effort than is actually necessary and can come across as sounding robotic and unnatural, which is going to virtually kill your engagement. Part of the appeal of video and audio is the human element to it so don’t waste that opportunity to further flesh out your brand voice. It is important to have an organization system and story structure that works for you so you don’t go off script and have a ton of extra stuff to cut out later.
Record your footage in small increments. This works best for short videos and audiostories but could be implemented into longer timeframes if necessary. When you break your clips down into a few sentences or time recorded less than a minute it makes your editing process much swifter because it is much easier to stay on topic for a few lines without messing up than it is to try and do the whole thing and then have to go back and edit out any missteps along the way. If you mess up, just immediately delete that clip, re-record it, and keep going.
You may feel like you don’t have the proper environment for video or tools for audio. We can tell you from experience that recording video from your phone works very well for both audio and video footage (sidenote: many audio stories are actually recorded as video footage and separated during editing). We’ve tested whether or not the iPhone does better with a plug-in rode mic of varying budgets and when using the native voice recording app it is virtually undetectable in difference. It does, however, make a massive difference in video because of the distance of the phone mic to the sound source. You can pick up a decent rode mic for around $30 on Amazon.
The biggest tip here is to use what you already have and make the most of it. Even professional photographers in large studios with big budgets abide by this rule. Whatever camera you have access to is perfectly adequate for the purposes of creating social media assets and basic flat lays. As long as you aren’t planning on using these photos for very large prints, your phone should work just fine, though by all means use whatever camera you are most comfortable with and have access to.
When it comes to the creative aspect, it’s really easy to fall in the trap of decision fatigue. Look to the small mundane things for inspiration. That furry rug or blanket just became a great flat lay background. Those fancy scrapbooking papers from the craft store can be layered in dynamic angles on top of each other or on posterboard for endless flat lay possibilities. Speaking of flat lays, you absolutely can’t beat seamless paper. The smallest width is perfect for flat lays and headshots, but storing these can become quite cumbersome, especially when you start accounting for background stands or additional lighting. The solution? Get some white (or whatever color speaks to you) posterboard and put it on a flat surface near a window. Prop another posterboard up opposite the window and you just created a perfect little lightbox for your product. It’s up to you to work with the small details and props that fill in your brand message, but that is something that tends to come naturally once you start setting it up.
Speaking of lighting, you don’t need a fancy studio set-up (though they are a nice luxury to have) to get quality light. There are in-expensive continuous lighting and video light options that you get for a reasonably low price if daylight just isn’t cutting it for you. Another option is to using LED flashlights to supplement or fill in where natural light isn’t strong enough for the mood or the shadows are too dark. Color correcting the white balance in your phone’s native photo app works really well to combat any odd coloring, but if you are more advanced or are using a camera, there are plenty of desktop and mobile apps that will do this and so much more.
Using templates is the most efficient way to create dynamic graphic design either at your desk or on the go. Many websites and social media management tools are offering content creation tools directly within their platforms now, which means you potentially have a one-stop-shop for stock images, template design, and resizing the same graphics for multiple platforms. Don’t waste your time by not capitalizing on the work you have already done. This will allow you to consistently create more graphics that are on brand, visually appealing, and far more efficient.
When you are putting together designs look to interesting photos to add another easy visually appealing element. Photos can add to the mood without having to say anything with words (think mood boards) so look to interesting textures in nature, the city, or just out and about through your day. We like to keep our phones handy when we are going about our business to snap a quick shot of anything we see that catches our eye and then you have a whole library of backgrounds and elements that you can implement literally at your fingertips.
Tools for Content Creation
There are a ton of free content creation tools available online. They range from completely free to a limited “freemium” plan that can be upgraded. This isn’t a comprehensive list, but these are some of our favorite free online content creation tools ranging from stock images, design, video compilation, and editing. There should be plenty here to get you started with your content marketing.
Images and Graphics
Video and Motion
Memes and Gifs
Blog Topic Generator
Content Idea Generator
There are many more time-saving free content creation tools out there that help with every step of the process, from coming up with ideas to actually creating content, but these are some of our favorites because of their ease of use.
Even for the most experienced brands, effective content creation can be time-consuming and overwhelming. It can also be difficult to decide where to begin.
If you feel stuck or need a refresh, our faction of creative talent and their marketing superpowers are at the ready to save your strategy.
We all love a good story. It’s what sucks us into the books, movies, and tv shows that we love most since the storyline is what connects us to the characters. Storytelling is one of the most compelling ways to convey information because of how it connects the storyteller to their audience.
This makes storytelling marketing essential to a solid content marketing strategy because it can be wielded as a technique to gain insight into the target audience by establishing empathy and gaining emotional access.
In this post, we’ll define what storytelling marketing is, underscore why it is important, and provide a few ways for you to get started with implementing stories as part of your company’s content marketing strategy.
What is storytelling in marketing?
People love stories and the wisdom they offer, the journeys they take us on, and the knowledge and ideas they provide.
Stories relay culture and are reminders of the lives people lived. It’s humanity’s way of sharing information no matter where they live or where they come from and has the power to create friendships, shape history, and bring families and other communities together. Basically, it’s the core of what makes us human.
Good storytelling in marketing doesn’t focus on the product but uses emotions to show how customers will benefit from the values of the brand. Successful brand storytelling won’t necessarily emphasize logic but will evoke an emotional response from the consumer.
Why is storytelling important for your brand?
Simply put, brand storytelling is educating and entertaining your audience through the sharing of events by words and images.
When considering how to implement this into a good content marketing strategy, it’s important to remember that while all brand storytelling is content marketing the two terms are not interchangeable because storytelling is a specific type of content meant to evoke an emotional response.
Storytelling is a critical aspect for brand marketing because:
The right story can create tremendous brand loyalty, which means people are much more likely to recommend a product or business by word-of-mouth marketing, which is arguably the best and perhaps even the only way to establish social proof.
3 Tips for Making Brand Storytelling Part of Your Marketing Strategy
Whatever your industry, your brand has plenty of stories to tell.
Each stage of your journey, from the inception of your brand concept to the direction you are moving in, is a story. Look to the mundane - not just the highlights and successes - as well to cultivate even more resonance within the audience.
If you are feeling stuck, think about:
#1) Don’t be afraid of emotions and laying bare both the good and bad.
This is how a story can inspire and motivate someone into action. When you are able to tap into raw emotion through authentic storytelling, you humanize your brand and let your audience know that you understand their pain points. This connects you, builds rapport, and drives empathy. Showing you truly get it and then offering a solution stakes your brand’s claim firmly in their memory so even if they aren’t ready to purchase now, your brand will be at the forefront of their mind when they are.
#2) Remember what makes a good story.
Beyond the high school literature lessons of all stories consisting of characters, conflict, and resolution, remember that good stories flow well and are entertaining, educational, and memorable to keep the audience engaged and their curiosity piqued. Some sources will tell you that a story needs to be universally appealing, but this depends primarily on the goal of the specific campaign. We focus on authenticity in advertising, which means that the ability to reach certain groups is innately not universal. The key here is to make sure you have well-defined goals and a solid grasp of your target market so as to know how best to reach them. If this is something you need help with, we are brand wizards and can work our magic to help you solidify your brand goals and build an effective marketing strategy.
#3) The main character of your story must be relatable to your audience.
A story is not a story without characters. Your main character can be a person, place, or thing, which opens up room for a lot of creativity. Whatever noun you land on must be a character that appeals to your audience. This doesn’t mean you have to implement a ton of character development within the story itself, but it will significantly aid you in creating the story since your entire story must revolve around this character. Making the consumer the main character is an obvious path to conveying a message that resonates though using a different angle on an otherwise overlooked item is another idea that can give your story an extra little edge to stay at the front of the audience’s mind.