'In order for content marketing to be effective, you have to be speaking from the heart. No matter what your company is selling, there has to be a human story.'
Content marketing meets core values
David Mizne (or Miz, as he prefers to be called), is passionate about content marketing and authentic brand storytelling. He is the Content Manager for 15Five, a communication tool that helps managers and employees align goals and uncover obstacles and opportunities that are often missed. The question-and-answer software platform has radically transformed many office environments and the employees at 15Five believe in it wholeheartedly — you can hear it in Miz's voice when speaking with him.
'We are growing as a culture through the use of the product ourselves,' he explains. This allows the 15Five team to be truly authentic as they create content to help promote the brand. 'Authenticity is required for any message to resonate,' he says.
This kind of authentic culture and brand doesn't just happen automatically Tweet this! , though. It takes work and dedication. Miz explains that it starts early on with the creation of core values, and doesn't stop there.
'Some companies create their values and just put them up on the wall and then over time, they become deemphasized,' he says. Miz explains that this kind of culture and values misalignment erodes trust — and this can seep into the company's brand and voice.
15Five has 10 Core Values. They are:
- Find the leverage
- Cultivate health and vitality
- Grant trust and be transparent
- Commit to customer success and delight
- Keep things simple
- Always be learning and growing
- Hold and be held accountable
- Maximize our zone of genius
- Embrace freedom and flexibility
- Dare to dream
These core values play a role in everything they do at 15Five. The team is often asking questions about company decisions that point back to the values. The core values are also the foundation on which their company's content is built. Their values are woven into their content strategy, which is seen nowhere more clearly than in their blog.
Connecting core values to content marketing: tactics
'Our blog strategy can be broken down into 3 parts, designed to effectively communicate our brand's voice and company's values,' says Miz.
- Thought leadership cases — for example:
- How to be a better manager
- Importance of communication and trust
- Working with millennials
- Product Focus — 15Five believes the blog should solve the same problem that the product does, so they work out some of those problems on the blog. For example:
- How to use communication software to increase employee engagement
- How regular communication improves morale
- How to use question-and-answer software to improve employee reviews
- Fishbowl — this is where they widen the angle of visibility into 15Five. For example:
- What questions did they ask on their last team leadership retreat?
- How do we make key messaging decisions for our brand
- How To posts – we share the success stories and processes of some of our favorite companies. For example:
- AppMakr/Infinite Monkeys
'At the end of the day, in order be be sure we are keeping a strong, authentic brand voice, we must maintain that our core values and our content strategy align with our WHY,' says Miz. He's referring to Simon Sinek's famous Start With Why principle — 'People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it.' For 15Five, this principle is at the core of their brand voice, it drives every bit of content they create:
- Our WHY is to create the space for people to be their greatest selves.
Content Marketing and The Golden Circle
Simon Sinek's Start With Why principal centers around the Golden Circle, which flips our traditional method of marketing communications on its head. He explains that most companies start by first explaining WHAT their product is, followed by HOW it works, and then WHY you should buy it… if they ever even get to that last part.
Apple, he argues, is a phenomenal example of a company that has flipped this approach on its head. Apple's marketing feels something like this:
'With everything we do, we aim to challenge the status quo. We aim to think differently (WHY).
Our products are user friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use (HOW).
We just happen to make great computers (WHAT).
Want to buy one?”
Starting with the WHY leads the prospective buyer on a dramatically different journey than starting with the what Tweet this! . Marketers that master this messaging strategy build a brand voice that resonates with prospects in a much deeper and more effective way than traditional marketers can ever hope to attain. People want to do business with people who believe the things they believe — and starting with the WHY communicates shared belief above product features and benefits. The Golden Circle links in directly with how our brain works, creating a powerful, influential voice that makes the content we create so much more effective.
Connecting to core: King of Pops and “finding the why”
Discovering your brand's WHY is a crucial exercise that every company must go through at multiple points throughout the company's development. About 5 years into the life of their company, brothers Steven and Nick Carse, co-founders of Atlanta-based popsicle brand King of Pops, found themselves at a point where their voice needed a refresh. Their vision for the future of King of Pops continued to expand and their voice needed to match, so they sat down with a couple of us, Lisa Calhoun and Natalie Black at Write2Market, who helped them rediscover their essence.
As Nick and Steven sat with Lisa and Natalie for over an hour exploring their brand and their story, everyone in the room came to a fascinating realization. While King of Pops sells delicious pops made from fresh, high quality ingredients at their carts in multiple cities and in select stores — they are not a popsicle company. They're not even a quality foods or dessert company. King of Pops is a community company. Tweet this! For Nick and Steven, it's the interactions with the customers at their carts and pops stands, or their free yoga classes in the local park that really highlight what they stand for as a company. The people that buy their pops, the community that their pops create — that is their WHY. Tweet this!
Write2Market took the facts from the company's strong history and combined it with the founders’ intentions to present several options for 'how to describe the company.' Eventually the team chose:
King of Pops (Boilerplate)
Summertime, smiles and Southern culture on a stick–we're King of Pops. Founded in 2010 and headquartered in Atlanta, our growing team of 100 passionate people scours the South for sustainable fruits and sourceable farmers. In our six locally focused kitchens, we milk, mash, freeze and ship thousands of artisanal popsicles a day. We are inspired by our founders–two chill brothers who started earning money by making pops for a summer music festival. Today, we're a lot bigger but no different. Drop by our carts at your favorite festival, suggest our 500th flavor, find us a new farmer, or snag us at the best retailers in your area. www.KingofPops.net.
As with any company, the right messaging content will continue to evolve Tweet this! –but the brothers felt this paragraph was a great next step in how they tell their story at scale.
Content marketing for your company: find your voice
Now it's your turn. How do you connect your values to your content, like 15Five? How do discover your WHY, like King of Pops?
Once you have that, you're well on your way to creating a memorable position. Once you understand your why, and have a voice that connects you to your values, that foundation can be polished through ongoing message strategy. We'll talk about Message Strategy in more detail in a later chapter. In the meantime, sign up below to get a copy of our Messaging & Positioning Template to help you get started on taking your heart and wrapping the facts around it.
Ultimately, the following 3 things are at the heart of effective content marketing:
- Your core values
- Your WHY
- Your message and position
Once you find these elements, you'll be able to create content that truly resonates with the consumer. It's not a quick and easy formula–there isn’t one–but the outcome is definitely worth the effort.