A good story helps your audience to connect more deeply with your brand. Content marketing is generating a lot of buzz in 2013. Businesses of all sizes are engaged in finding ways to leverage this new approach to marketing.

According to Gary Vaynerchuk, wine entrepreneur and social media advocate, content marketing is changing the rules of marketing. To paraphrase Gary’s comments from a recent video, brands that are about giving and paying it forward can benefit as the user ends up giving equity to the brand. But, in a world of content overload, how can you use content marketing to make your small business stand out?

Is your brand story stuck in neutral?

Let’s start with the audience you want to reach. A persona is a model of a character that represents the different user types who may buy or influence purchase of your products. These different persona models are based on a collection and analysis of needs, behaviors, concerns, usage, loyalty, etc. This information enables you to create a compelling messaging strategy for reaching your target audience or consumer base.

Next, now that you have a good picture of the persona you want to impact with your content, focus on creating your brand story. This is easy to say, but how do you create your own brand story for your small business?

Creating your brand story: Asking the right questions

You need to find something relevant about your brand that is meaningful to your audience. Coca Cola talks about Open Happiness, IBM has Smarter Planet and Zappos talks about Delivering Happiness.

As a small business, your goal may be to create new relationships with prospects or to strengthen the relationship with your customers. Of course, you probably don’t have the resources brands like IBM and Coca-Cola have, so how can you still make the power of a brand story work for you?

The right story will help your small business stand out in the marketplace by building trust through emotional connections, demonstrating that you understand your customers’ needs and showing that you are the brand that delivers. Ask yourself how you add value, and then find ways to present your brand as human and caring.

Here are 11 questions for you and your colleagues to seriously ponder as you work to determine what kind of story you want to tell. Like a fingerprint, your story is your brand’s unique point of difference. Once you have defined your story, you will need a platform that you can use to tell it. One of the best ways to tell your story is through a blog.

1. Why was your company started? How did you get where you are today? Most of all think about why you do what you do.

2. Consider something you did for charity. Did it help define your brand?

3. Did you help a customer to overcome an obstacle because of the product or service you provide?

4. Are you doing something for the planet (eco-friendly, sustainability) that people care about?

5. Find the story your brand represents—what’s your promise? What is the reason to choose your brand vs. all the others?

6.Do you have a mission statement? If not, dig deeper into the reason why you do what you do.

7. What are your values? Your beliefs? Do they shape your brand?

8. Does your brand have a purpose?

9. What do you profoundly believe in that others share? What makes them want to be part of your community?

10. Think deeply about what defines your social brand and how that defines your success.

11. Think customers: Do your customers tell your brand story best?

Now that you are on your way to creating the core idea behind your brand story, ask yourself:

  • Is your story true?
  • Is it authentic?
  • Is it relevant?

The next step is to work on developing a content strategy to leverage your content marketing efforts.

I would like to hear from you about how you created your brand story, or how you use content marketing to engage customers. Feel free to share your story in comments.

 

Mark is a digital marketer, social brand strategist, speaker, blogger and educator. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.