Do you have a content strategy? I appreciate that this is probably unlikely, particularly given recent research suggests that less that 27% of businesses do.
So let me ask another question – do you create content? Do you take time to create social media posts? Do you write a blog? Do you vlog? Have you written copy for a whole website? Do you send marketing emails or a regular newsletter? Do you have a leaflet, or set of posters? All of these things count as content and whilst they can be great marketing tools, have you considered how consistent you are with your style and the messages and the story you are telling? Stop thinking of content as lots of individual items and start assessing it as a whole.
This is when a content strategy can help you with. It helps drive forward your business. It helps ensure that the time you spend creating output is worthwhile. It means all of your content works together.
I could write pages about why you should have a content strategy and how you go about it, but in this post, I want to focus on the importance of consistency across your content output and how all of it can work together to achieve business growth, better engagement and more return for the time you put in.
The main reason for being consistent across your content is that it is the easiest way to grow your brand identity and to grow recognition. How many advertisements for big, international brands have you seen and know instantly who the ad is for even before the name appears (usually at the very end of the ad)?
It is well-known that simply using the same two to three colours helps clients to recognise your business; let alone the use of a particular logo, strapline, font or image. Most people have a ‘personal brand’. By this, I simply mean that they have a style of imagery that they like, products they buy or style of clothing, for example. Think about what you like and what ‘defines’ you and how this may be reflected through your business and, hence, your brand.
For example, you’ll notice that my colours are purple (the cadbury’s kind!) and yellow. My image (and favourite flowers) are daffodils. And I use serif fonts for headings. On social media, I use a lot of photographic imagery, opposed to illustration or patterns, with a professional but casual feel, i.e. people meetings with laptops, notepads, but with a coffee, in a café environment. I like photos of people and some sense of ‘doing their work’, either writing or typing, rather than inanimate objects only.
I would love a logo too, and I have a designer working on this! Interestingly, when I came to brief my logo, because certain aspects of my brand are really important to me and ‘pinned down’ it was quite easy – I wanted a logo in purple, perhaps with yellow as an accent colour. I wanted a daffodil and I wanted ‘The Content Consultancy’ in a serif font. Easy to brief and ‘on brand’!
An insight in to you
Another reason consistency is key, is because it allows an insight in to you and your business. On our business planning workshops, we talk about mission and vision. The main ways these are communicated is through the content you create and share. Your mission should be consistent with what you are trying to achieve with your business. Your vision should be consistent with how you want your business to grow. Therefore, it makes sense that your content should be consistent with both of these and reflect them.
As I often say with content, you have to create stuff that you enjoy creating, that you like ‘putting together’, otherwise it becomes difficult and laborious. Hence, automatically you and your personality will shine through, especially if you are consistent and true to your business and its values.
Predictability is not a bad thing for a business. Sending mixed signals can be really damaging. If you social media is humorous and informal, but your website is plain and serious, it leaves consumers not knowing where they stand and how they want to engage. Should they comment on your Facebook posts with cheeky messages or will they get a formal ‘corporate’ reply, in line with the tone of your website? It seems extreme, but you want clients to feel like they ‘know’ the business, even before purchasing from you.
Consistency also increases the chances of your business being in their minds. When someone says ‘do you know any businesses which offer X?’, if you are X you want your business to leap to the forefront! There are many businesses, shops and professionals, who I have never personally bought from or used the services of, but I know their name, I believe I know their ethos and I know what they offer in terms of products and services, because of the content they put out and the consistent messages I see (and am reminded of) constantly. I will recommend them or at least mention their names, because they feel familiar enough to me to do so.
Finally, consistency across content is key for building trust. Taking a very basic example, imagine if you stated on your Facebook page that your opening hours are ‘Monday – Friday; 9am – 5pm’, however on your website you state you are open ‘Tuesday – Saturday; 9am– 5pm’. If a prospective client, sees the inconsistency imagine the message this send out. Which content do they believe? It’s the same with services, products and pricing. People want to trust your content to know that it is reliable and valid. Even small discrepancies can be annoying and potentially damaging. When it comes to communicating your values, ethos or customer service approach, consistency and building trust becomes even more important to secure a sale.
Your content will help people to develop opinions and make assumptions about your business. Good quality and consistent content will help nail down who you are and what you are all about. You want people to trust you and to believe what you say in the content you publish and share.
Consistency is key
If content is king, then consistency is definitely key. I know it is time-consuming, but allowing some space for consideration and reflection on the content you produce, across the different outlets, including social media, your website, blogs and newsletters, is always worthwhile. Are you transparent about what you offer? Are you consistent with the messages you convey? Are you telling your story clearly? Consistency will help enhance engagement, build familiarity and help consolidate trust – it is worth your while.