What is content strategy and how does it work with branding?

So you have a solid brand. One with a strong visual identity, voice, values and target audience.

But that’s just the beginning in the big picture of modern storytelling strategies!

Building a strong brand can lay the foundation for a strong content strategy — but you need both to truly build and grow relationships with your target audience.

If branding is the *what* and the *who*, content strategy is the *how.*

Here are three ways content strategy works with branding:

A good content strategy includes communication and engagement plans for different segments of your target audience.

For a small business, that might look like prospective customers and customers segmented by loyalty.

For nonprofits, that might look like major donors, current donors, first-time donors, volunteers and donor prospects.

A good content strategy tells stories that show, not just tell, the value of your brand.

Through using the ‘personality’ of your brand, effective content strategy shows target audiences how your organization solved a problem for a similar customer or brought value to their life.

For mission-driven businesses, good content strategies show results or how a real person’s life was changed by what that organization does.

A good content strategy is dynamic, while a brand can be static.

When goal-setting for the year, content strategies should align and support those goals, adjusting to actual results from projected results.

Content strategy keeps your brand message strong and moving forward to authentically connect with the audience you want to reach.

Ready to take your business from a brand to an effective storyteller? Set up a free 30-minute consultation with Minerva Media Co.!

Content planning roadmap: Learn how to align your goals and content strategy

In this easy-to-implement content planning guide, you’ll work through aligning your business goals and your content plans. 

Inside, you’ll find content strategy worksheets, examples and a checklist so you won’t miss a step.

Ready to jump in?

If you’re in business, you’re in the content business. Content marketing is an effective and authentic way to connect your organization with people — and grow.

Yet often, businesses share or create content that isn’t in line with what they actually do — or where they’re strategically going.

A smart content strategy can be built onto your business strategies. In this free guide, Minerva Media Co. will guide you through examples, worksheets and a helpful checklist.

Free content planning guide

How to be a better writer: Sign up for our new guide!

Want to transform your brand’s storytelling with the help of an editor? In this totally free guide from Minerva Media Co.’s founder and longtime editor for national and local publications, learn:

  • What are the components and structure of a good story?
  • What type of stories resonate with businesses sharing stories
  • Common mistakes editors catch even from experienced writers

And more insights to take your writing for your website, social media posts and even in-person storytelling to the next level.

Are you ready to be a better writer? 

Amazon Alexa skills are open to brands. Here are some content marketing ideas for voice.

A bar cart at a home in Palm Springs
Want to create a content experience for customers at home?

With the rise of voice virtual assistant, Alexa, and hardware Amazon Echo and Dot, you might be wondering what that means for your business. Earlier this year, Amazon opened up building skills to everyone — which means its the perfect time to start experimenting.

First, let’s talk about what storytelling using Amazon Alexa is. It’s not repeating an ad message. It’s serving a function for users as an engaging, modern storytelling strategy.

It’s a prime example of content marketing (which the Content Marketing Institute says produces three times more leads than traditional outbound marketing).

Instead of pushing products to consumers, good storytelling on Alexa develops a trusted, expert voice that develops brand loyalty and converts consumers.

Here’s an example of Alexa Skills storytelling:

Talisker, a scotch brand, is using Amazon’s Alexa to give drinkers a tasting experiencemuch like you might get on a distillery tour and tasting IRL — but this is from the comfort of your home.

The head of tech and innovation said: “Voice is the perfect technology to do just this and provide an enhanced brand experience by putting the consumer, product and brand at the centre of a tasting, in a completely seamless and non-intrusive way.”

How to determine your Alexa skill content strategy: Enhance an experience

While the scotch company might be building digital ambassadors and brand loyalty with their virtual, self-guided tasting, it also smartly considers how it can enhance an experience that’s already happening: People drinking scotch, maybe their product, at home.

Ilker Koksal wrote in Forbes that brands should think about how people are currently engaging with their brand and translate it to voice.

For example: People use Food Network in the kitchen. When their hands are messy, it looks up recipes. Starbucks allows a hands-free ordering service for commuters on the go. “Focus on the experience for similar ideas to translate your brand to voice marketing,” he writes.

Alexa Skills marketing for businesses who sell products and services to consumers:

Some examples that Hubspot mentions in its guide is brand-building efforts by Purina (ask about the best dog breeds for kids) and Tide (whose stain-removal instructions voice storytelling positions them as an expert in removing stains).

Hubspot writes: “Your Alexa Skills plan should complement your company’s existing content strategy and should be a natural extension to the queries your customers are conducting in other formats.”

How to get started with Amazon Alexa Skills

So what does this mean for small to medium local organizations without a fleet of developers? Like with anything, you’ll be investing resources with time or money, but if you have an organizational modern storytelling strategy, you can determine if it’s right for your business by whether or not it fits in as a tool to meet your goals.

If you want to learn more, The Amazon Skills site has resources for marketers, trainings and more.

Decide it’s a yes? These components in a good strategy would help you decide on your Alexa storytelling:

SEO research: What do people look for most in your industry or area?

Website analytics on your site that determine most popular content — and least.

Social media analysis that shows how people engage with your business and brand now.

Audience analysis that looks at your existing customer base.

What customer problems you can solve from the discovery process.

Need help in creating your strategy?

Find more storytelling strategies like this in the Minerva Media Co. newsletter.

So what is content strategy? A proven success in content marketing

Have you ever heard of someone actively seeking out an ad on the Internet? Probably not.

But did you know that AirBnB has a magazine? Or that MailChimp has a podcast around pivotal moments in a person’s career? Or that Creative Mornings has a newsletter that shares inspiring links for creatives?

Increasingly, businesses are becoming publishers of their own stories — and of other stories that connect with their target audience.

It speaks to a larger trend: Traditional publishers are no longer the gatekeepers between the public and a business. And now, consumers expect that they can engage with a brand on social media. This has necessitated that all businesses be storytellers and we’re seeing the effects:

Marketers spent a reported 56% more on content creation over the last year, making it the top growing area for content marketing.

Content Marketing Institute’s 2019 trends report.

Content creation and strategy is so central to business in 2019 that Axios published a story a few weeks ago with this headline: “The job of the future is editor in chief.”

Quoting their chief financial correspondent, the article went on to say: “(it’s) Much better to create something that people do want to read directly, and give them that.

“You know how every company is a technology company? Well maybe on some level every company is a media company, too. There’s no point felling trees in forests if nobody hears them.”

That last point is key — a content strategy outlines what story you’ll tell but how it will reach and engage your target audience. Just blogging isn’t enough — you have to think about the whole customer journey.

Content strategy increases your success

The Content Marketing Institute report shows a huge increase in just having a documented strategy for content. Of their surveyed respondents, 65% of “most successful” content marketing performers had a strategy, compared to 39% of all respondents.

That means if your strategic goal is to up your blog game this year, you can’t just get an intern to create some posts about the cool stuff you’re doing and hope that works. You can’t pick clip art memes or try to hashtag every #NationalWhateverDay.

You should be creating optimized content that supports your business goals — and if you’re a business owner like me, you don’t have time for things that don’t work. That’s where Minerva Media Co. comes in.

With more than a decade of experience in content production and more than 8 years in social and digital strategy for content, Minerva Media Co. can help you create a sustainable plan for content that performs.

So, what are you waiting for?

How storytelling helps your business

If you’re like me, your passion didn’t come from pursuing a degree in business. It started with a passion for something else — design, a cause, a craft.

That’s why I’m often in the library, poring through the business book section. It’s where I found my latest inspiring read, “Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets.”

In a chapter on strategy, it discusses the importance of having a story. It’s important for businesses pursuing investors and businesses hoping to connect with customers.

The authors, Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson, Christopher Lochhead and Kevin Maney nail it here:

A quote from "Playing Bigger" by Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson, Christopher Lochhead and Kevin Maney.
A quote from “Playing Bigger” by Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson, Christopher Lochhead and Kevin Maney (Harper Business)

“Stories alter perspectives and exert influence. … Raw information reaches us on an intellectual level, but stories reach into our hearts and our pants.”

Yep.

The research supports it:

The book cites two studies. One is a Stanford study, “Narrative Stories as Mediators for Serial Learning” showed a link between stories and memory.

A more recent study by a Claremont Graduate University found a connection between strong storytelling and an increase in oxytocin.

“Oxytocin is an empathy chemical, and it motivates cooperation and understanding–quite important when trying to convince someone to, as Apple used to say, think different,” the book says.

So what does that mean for your business?

Content strategy should be a central part of your marketing and advertising efforts. You can hope that your work speaks for itself, but there’s an economy to making your passion sustainable.

And content strategy is another opportunity to authentically talk about why you do what you do, build empathy and loyalty with existing and potential customers.

How to start with content marketing strategy?

Here are a few easy prompts to start thinking about your story:

  • Is there a project that you can show the behind-the-scenes process on? What might make it more human? A note from the project lead, artist or director?
  • What was the genesis of your business or organization? Is there a retelling of that story that expresses vulnerability and authenticity? What emotion does it express? Is there something that you can tie in that’s an action point to leverage that emotion?
  • Was there a time you learned something or felt connection to the community you’re trying to serve? What happened? Write out what that story might look like, with words and visuals.

Without a distribution strategy, your content will live on its own little lonely island.

Think through these questions on what’s right for you: How will you get it in front of your ideal audience? Think about platform-specific storytelling, not “pushing” out the same version connecting Instagram and Facebook. How can you be consistent?

This is just the beginning of a content strategy that leverages storytelling for connection with the people you hope to reach.

Looking for more? Sign up for the Minerva Media Co. newsletter or contact minervamediaco@gmail.com for help on creating your own modern storytelling strategies.

How to create the best email newsletter for your small business

Hey y’all, Sarah Day Owen Wiskirchen here, founder of the newly launched Minerva Media Co.! For my first blog for businesses about content strategy, I wanted to start with my favorite platform. Nope, not Instagram. Email.

I love email newsletters, and with the tools available now, it’s easy and free to start in just an afternoon. That said, you want to think about your newsletter strategy first.

Here are some things I’ve learned through experimenting with newsletters.

Decide on your goals

Newsletters are a great way to deepen loyalty. The people who sign up for your newsletter are likely existing or interested potential customers. Newsletters shouldn’t feel like ads, they should feel like a more intimate letter from a friend.

Think about your greater business goals: Is there a certain day that you want to drive more traffic to your brick and mortar? Is there an upcoming event you’d like your loyal readers to evangelize?

Then, think about how to make it a measurable goal. Is it total sales on Thursdays? More registrations to a free event, or ticket sales? Mentions on social media? Come up with an actual number.

Decide on your value for subscribers

What’s your incentive to get people to sign up, and how can you keep that value consistent?

You want to have a short explanation of what you’ll offer that gets people to sign up that doesn’t exceed a sentence.

Consider putting together a Google Doc with ideas so you know you have enough topics to fulfill what you’re promising. And bonus, when you have writer’s block, you have a list to pull from.

Think about the logistics: Who and when?

You want to be consistent enough for people to anticipate your newsletter — maybe it’s weekly or even monthly.

Deciding who will own the project will make sure it happens. You may also want to set up a system for looking over the newsletter before it’s sent.

Respect people’s inboxes

Quality over quantity. Newsletters that consistently don’t add value will result in unsubscribes and low open rates. You have to win them with every email you send!

Also, consider making the reply email one that people check. Newsletters are all about deepening relationships, so being responsive counts!

There’s a lot more you can do with newsletters, like setting up welcome sequences, adding personalization and following up with people who haven’t opened a newsletter recently. This blog post just outlines the basics!

If you’re interested in learning more about what content strategies can work for your local business, sign up for the Minerva Media Co. newsletter! We’ll send insights via email so you won’t miss a thing.


What is Minerva Media Company?

Today is the launch of Minerva Media Co., a different kind of local media company whose expertise is modern storytelling strategies.

With the Raleigh Convergence, we’re creating a conversation around ideas, engaging on issues at times Raleighites can take action and sharing stories of creative neighbors.

With Minerva Media Co., we work with local businesses to create authentic connections with potential and existing customers through sustainable content strategy.

On this blog, you’ll find new content strategy ideas for your small or local business! Looking for a blog on journalism? Find us on Medium.

Looking for something else? Send us a note at minervamediaco@gmail.com.