The transformative power of content marketing: The why’s and how’s of writing content that sells

Anjana Bhaskar

By Anjana Bhaskar

The transformative power of content marketing: The why’s and how’s of writing content that sells

In a world that moves at the pace of change, where the competition is unforgivingly fierce, content is the undisputed king. It is the cog that sets the wheels of the buyer journey in motion, guiding them from a state of complete unawareness (Unaware) to a place of total awareness (Most Aware).

Quick, can you recall the brands behind these famous slogans?

“Just do it”
“Finger lickin’ good.”
“Think Different”

How about these ones from back home?

“Daag ache hain”
“Swaad zindagi ka”

I’m sure that didn’t take you more than a minute. What is important to note, however, is that these taglines didn’t entrench themselves in your memory by accident. They are the products of carefully deliberated semantics, detailed focus studies, and meticulously planned content marketing, delivered to the intended audience through a select mix of channels.

There is no doubt that in today’s marketplace content is strategically important to differentiating a product and helping organizations build a robust sales pipeline. This is common knowledge. But even so, when it comes to content marketing, we see a lot of companies continuing to make these three basic mistakes:

  1. Having a wealth of generic data, but no clear-cut USP or marketable content
  2. Not repackaging content in a way that speaks to the relevant target audience groups
  3. Lack of an effective content marketing strategy and meticulous follow-through

We tell this to companies every day: Make no mistake; all of your content is of virtually no use unless it is accompanied by a strategic content marketing plan and diligent execution. If you want your product to stand out in a sea of content and win over your customers, you must have a well-planned and carefully executed content marketing strategy.

How to write highly relevant B2B marketing content

Today, the majority of content marketing is done online, and with good reason. Studies have shown that content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing while generating 3x leads. However, effective content marketing requires more than just churning out blog posts and social media updates. The web is already inundated with those. Generating SERP-worthy outcomes takes a deep understanding of your target audience, their user personas, a strategic approach to messaging and distribution, and a commitment to quality and consistency.

For those who are willing to put in the effort, the rewards are significant. Studies have shown that businesses that prioritize content marketing see an average conversion rate six times higher than those that don’t.

Content marketing checklist 101

Let’s start with the basics. To create an effective content marketing strategy, you must know your audience inside and out. Understand their needs, desires, and problems to create content that resonates with them and motivates them to take action. By following this hygiene checklist, you can create content that sticks, drives engagement and conversions, and ultimately achieves your business goals.

  • Is your headline catchy and compelling?
    Your headlines need to grab attention and immediately communicate your value proposition or viewpoint.
  • Have you added an infographic or imagery?
    Use relevant visuals to break up the text into segments for an easy read.
  • Is your content conversational?
    Make your writing style more engaging and memorable by using a tone that speaks directly to your audience.
  • Is your content buyer-optimized?
    Use proven models like Eugene Schwartz’s Five Stages of Customer Awareness to customize your content for your specific audience
  • Have you done your SEO homework?
    Optimize your content for SEO by using the right keywords, meta descriptions, and internal links to help search engines understand its relevance.
  • Are you incentivizing readers?
    Add the final marketing touch with downloadable giveaways and lead magnets, like free e-books, guides, templates, or consultation
  • Are you promoting your content?
    Simply uploading content is not enough. Market your content using a diverse mix of channels, underpinned by compelling messaging
  • Is your content like-worthy?
    Make it easy for your readers to share your content with their followers by including social sharing buttons and using relevant hashtags and mentions.

Writing for the AI-enabled, digital world – E.E.A.T. all you can!

Let’s dissect things from an SEO perspective. Search engine algorithms rely heavily on the content of a website or web page to determine its relevance, quality, and authority. A website with high-quality and relevant content is more likely to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) and attract more traffic, which translates into more leads and sales.

With the rise of AI tools like ChatGPT, we’re seeing even greater potential for businesses to create high-quality, targeted, diverse and curated content that speaks directly to the audience. But it’s not as easy as it seems. Whether you are an independent writer, or you are reliant on an AI tool to do your writing, your content needs to align to specific standards to rank high on search engines.

One model that’s particularly relevant is Google’s EEAT model, which emphasizes the importance of experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness of content.

  • Experience and Expertise refer to the level of knowledge and skill demonstrated by the content creator. It’s essential to showcase your expertise on the chosen topic and provide accurate and informative content that speaks to your audience’s needs.
  • Authoritativeness refers to the reputation and credibility of the content creator. This can be established through things like user feedback, social proof, and third-party endorsements.
  • Finally, trustworthiness refers to the level of confidence that users have in your content. This can be demonstrated through things like transparency, authenticity, and a commitment to ethical practices that help to build trust with your audience and foster lasting relationships.

By keeping the principles of EEAT in mind, businesses can create content that not only engages their audience but also establishes their authority and credibility in their industry.

Leveraging reciprocity and storytelling for impact

Content marketing is a powerful tool that draws upon psychological principles to create a compelling pitch that clicks with audiences and drives business results. One such principle is the principle of reciprocity, which suggests that people are more likely to reciprocate when they receive something of value. In content marketing, this principle can be applied by offering valuable information, resources, or insights that inspire trust and build credibility with the audience.

Another principle is the power of purposeful storytelling. Stories are a powerful tool for building emotional connections, evoking empathy, and inspiring action. When used in content marketing, stories can help brands connect with their audiences on a deeper level, tap into their emotions, and create a sense of shared experience.

Box story

A high-impact use case that demonstrates these principles is the “Daag Ache Hain” campaign by Surf Excel, circa 2005. Surf leveraged the power of visual storytelling to promote its brand values of cleanliness and positivity, and elevate its positioning from being “product-based” to “purpose-led”. The Indian version of the campaign featured heartwarming stories of young children who stain their clothes trying to do a good deed. The primary messaging in play was “Daag Ache Hain,” which translates to “Stains are good”, encouraging the audience to embrace an adventurous and inherently helpful nature despite the effort it entails. It also demonstrated the principle of reciprocity by leveraging the idea of giving to receive.

The campaign was a massive success, generating millions in views and sparking a nationwide conversation around the value of cleanliness and positivity. It struck a chord with parents and children alike, creating an emotional connection with the brand and driving up business results. Two weeks after the company aired the ad, their proven ad recall had shot up and about six weeks later, so did their sales.

Daag achhe hain

The future of content marketing

The following five key trends represent the bold new face of content marketing. For those with the foresight and fortitude to embrace them, the rewards could be immense.

  • Video content will reign supreme. The power of video to captivate and engage audiences is undeniable, and with the rapid growth of short-form video platforms such as TikTok and Instagram Reels, the demand for bite-sized video content will only continue to soar.
  • Interactive content will gain immense popularity. As audiences crave more personalized experiences, interactive formats such as user generated content (UGC), quizzes, polls, and surveys will become a go-to strategy for brands looking to build deeper connections with their customers.
  • Personalization will be paramount. Consumers today demand content that speaks directly to their unique needs and preferences, and brands that fail to deliver on this front risk being left behind.
  • The possibilities of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will be fully realized.In the next five years, brands will embrace these cutting-edge technologies to create truly immersive experiences that transport audiences to entirely new worlds.
  • Voice search will emerge as a key driver of content discovery. With voice assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home on the rise, optimizing content for voice search will become an essential strategy for any brand looking to stay ahead of the curve.

A final throwback: The Hero Honda story

What makes content so powerful? For one, it allows brands to showcase their unique voice and perspective, helping them differentiate their offerings significantly. It also provides value to consumers, through educational resources, entertainment, or emotional connections. By creating content that resonates with their audience, brands can establish trust, build loyalty, and ultimately drive sales.

Box story

We have seen clear use cases in the past of how effectively executed content marketing built successful brands and empires:

In the 1980s, Hero Honda put the power of content marketing to test. The brand faced stiff competition from other Indian motorcycle manufacturers, and the struggle to stand out in a crowded market was very real. To achieve a strong brand identity and differentiate its products from those of competitors, Hero Honda launched a series of advertisements that emphasized the fuel efficiency and low maintenance of its motorcycles. The crowning touch was the tagline ‘Fill it, Shut it, Forget it’ created to emphasize the ease of use and reliability of Hero Honda CD 100 bikes.

The tagline quickly became one of the most recognizable ones in Indian advertising history. In the words of Sridhar Ramanujam, Founder, Brand-Comm, and a leading voice in the Indian advertisement landscape, “... the consumer forgot all the other brands (well, almost) as the new campaign and the new brand took the market by storm and even two decades later, continues to rule the roost.”

By using content marketing to create a powerful brand identity, Hero Honda was able to drive millions in sales value and establish a loyal customer base. Even today, the ‘Fill it, Shut it, Forget it’ tagline is remembered fondly by many consumers.

Content marketing has the transformative power to revolutionize the way brands engage with their audiences. As technologies like AI/ML, AR/VR and deep learning continue to evolve and consumer behavior shifts, content marketing will undoubtedly transform as well. But one thing is certain: brands that prioritize it and invest in creating and marketing high-quality content will forever hold the competitive edge to succeed in the ever-changing marketplace of the future.

Hero Honda CD 100