The Golden Arches. The “swoosh.” The mouse ears. What do these three things have in common? They’re all examples of brands that have built up such a reputation over the years that a single symbol is recognized around the world and associated with a multitude of ideas, stories, and values. Of course, it’s taken McDonald’s, Nike, and Disney decades and billions of dollars to develop this kind of brand recognition. Even with a short time frame and a limited budget, though, you can harness your company’s brand to engage and expand your audience.
Building a brand means telling your story to your audience in the way they want to hear it. Copyblogger contributor Frank Strong writes that a “brand is a promise. It’s an expectation of an experience.” Content is one of the strongest tools at your disposal when it comes to outlining this promise. The new term “content marketing” refers to leveraging a variety of original content to expand and energize your brand.
Like any tool, though, content marketing only works when it’s used the right way. Beyond the usual challenges, auto dealerships face an additional challenge: weaving the OEM’s brand into their own brand narrative while showcasing what sets them apart. But this challenge can yield its own unique rewards.
As a content writer who’s worked with multiple brands—as well as someone in love with writing in all its forms—I’ve seen both the good and the bad sides of the stories that we tell one another. Here’s how content can help you build a better brand.
- Tell a continuous story. The Internet is a big place—and one with a very good memory. Every time you publish a blog post, video, television spot, or even a tweet, it becomes a part of the public perception about your company. Instead of looking at this as a hazard, consider it an opportunity to showcase the consistent voice and integrity of your brand. For dealerships, it helps to use your local community to build this story. By aligning yourself with local interests and groups, you can add greater depth to your dealership story beyond your OEM brand.
- Leave nothing open to interpretation, and anticipate arguments. If there’s one thing this election season has taught us, it’s that there’s always someone waiting to turn your words around on you. Get the upper hand by being clear and concise in your messaging, and by anticipating what detractors might say. Turn the challenges of competition into beneficial results for your brand. What turns people off in the dealership experience? Use your marketing story to convince customers that they won’t find those things with your brand.
- Speak your customers’ language. Human nature has shown that we’re more willing to listen to those who share our interests. What interests your customers? It’s actually incredibly easy to seek out blogs, news stories, and events related to your OEM models. Share them with your audience on your dealership’s personal blog, or interact with popular and respected voices in your market to expand your reach.
- Find the right “spread” for your content. Imagine your content as a layer of engaging ideas spreading out from your website. Keeping your homepage content updated is important, but so is drawing in new leads from other outlets. However, casting your net indiscriminately across social media outlets and other channels can also mean a lot of wasted effort. Find out where the majority of your dealership customers are coming from, and focus your external posting there. Every word you write (or that a content marketing company writes for you) has a cost, whether it’s money, time, or something else. Make sure that each one counts.
- Join the conversation about your brand—don’t end it. When someone responds to your brand online, they’re sharing a positive or negative emotion they’ve had with your company or product. One is obviously preferable to the other, but both instances represent opportunities. If someone had a good experience at your dealership, thank them and find out what made it that way. If you’re dealing with a dissatisfied customer, treat your response like any other piece of content: be clear, consistent, and available. Most importantly, follow through—and make sure your prospective customers can see it.
If you’re feeling lost about where to begin, 3 Birds Marketing can help. Our specialists in content marketing, design, and SEO can help you tailor the message that your brand is sending. First, that means asking the right questions to determine your company’s voice and core values. Will you know the answers?
Paul Mirek is Content Coordinator at 3 Birds Marketing. He has been professionally involved in building strong online profiles for a variety of brands, and has a B.A. in Creative Writing from Elon University.
Tags: branding, content, marketing, paul mirek, writing