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How Far Can You Stray From Your Client’s Core Business?

Can You Stray From Your Client's Core Business in Content Marketing Strategy?

Thanksgiving is around the corner, and we all know that certain subjects should be off the menu when it comes to table talk. The weather and main course are always safe bets, but in a sea of distant relatives, how can you toe the line between good conversation and controversy?

The same question can be applied to your content marketing strategy. Talking about your industry is safe and expected, but how far from the main topic can you wander without confusing your audience, or worse, wasting your own time and resources?

Related: The content marketing rule of thumb: Always know who you’re talking to.

Part of a solid strategy is figuring out the proper ratio of brand-specific education and marketing info to general interest and lifestyle content. Like everything else, it all ties back to a solid strategy and a thorough understanding of your audience.

Brand Affinity: Beyond the Buzzwords

Plenty of B2B companies can benefit from branching out into lifestyle and educational pieces that are still valuable and applicable to their audiences.

If the purpose is to raise awareness for your brand and retain the clients you already have, your content doesn’t have to be overtly actionable and relevant. Brand affinity matters: You can add value by simply connecting to your audience in a positive way.

The goal with our client Texas Farm Bureau Insurance is to build and maintain relationships with prospects and current policyholders. Clearly, people don’t really want to read about insurance and only insurance at each contact point. So to build affinity for the brand, TFBI focuses on its Texas roots while continuing to educate clients on ways to protect themselves and their loved ones.

It Pays to Be Curious

Just like you wouldn’t appreciate your rambling uncle hogging the table conversation with a play-by-play of his latest round of golf, your audience might appreciate a break from your amazing product lineup to talk about something a little more tangential. This is when you ask yourself:

  • Who am I writing for?
  • What are their interests and issues?
  • How can I make my content worthy of their time?

Your customer personas, their interests, and the length of their relationship with your brand all determine what topics are fair game. The point is to maintain your voice and tone throughout, delivering consistent quality.

Choosing Your Tangential Topics

By packaging tangential topics in a way that resonates with your audience, you’ll open new doors of communication and connection. Safe bets for tangential stories include:

  • Industry education
  • Community involvement
  • Human interest
  • Customer testimonials
  • Travel

Whether your aim is to get people to visit your website or to buy more products, one thing with tangential content remains true: Your content must always be compelling.

Really Know Your Audience

Don’t think too inside the box when crafting your content agenda. When we worked with Avocados From Mexico to create content pillars for the education section on its website, we devised a content marketing strategy that included everything from tips on how to pick and eat avocados to natural beauty recipes and book reviews. There are still plenty of foodie topics, but you can only reach so many people with recipes. Taking that lifestyle approach opens avenues for new communications that still align with the strategy.

Get to know your customer base, what they’re interested in, and what will keep the conversation moving in a positive direction.

Don’t Lose Sight of Strategy

New content is a great reason to reach your audience again and again, even if it diverts from your actual products and services. But there’s a line: You could publish a provocative post about the Kardashians every day and get loads of hits, but that probably won’t drive potential customers to your website, build your brand, or establish you as an authority in your space. The goal of indirect marketing is to keep a conversation going, not to start a new one that’ll lead to a dead end.

Getting creative with your content can help generate interest, but be sure your reader can trace the thread from the brand to the content topic so that you don’t clutter up your overarching message.

So What’s the Perfect Mix?

There’s no textbook bullet point that defines the ideal ratio of industry copy versus marketing copy versus general interest copy. How you appropriate this will depend on the tolerance of your management team and your readers, and the ratio will likely evolve over time, dictated by feedback and analytics (you’ve either wandered too far or not far enough when engagement nosedives).

You know your business and customers best. Now what can you give them to demonstrate that?

For more tips on generating interesting, relevant content for your audience, check out our blog.