The Waterfall Effect
Article Date: September 21, 2023
Cascading Content Assets for Your Building Materials Brand
Whether your company manufactures building envelope solutions, energy-efficient windows, or high-performance insulation, your brand’s success at driving business rests on its ability to tell a compelling story. You need to be able to differentiate yourself in the marketplace, to demonstrate that a customer should trust you and should buy from you.
That means you need to deliver impactful, consistent answers to these questions:
- What products and innovations have we introduced to the marketplace, and how do they address pain points for everyone from architects to designers, specifiers, builders, installers, and building owners?
- What do our customers say about our solutions and our approach? What value do they place on the services and products that we provide, and how has it made a measurable difference in their business?
- What knowledge or insight can we offer to educate our customers and prospects on key industry challenges, thereby empowering them to optimize their operations?
Marketers of all kinds are taking note of this growing mandate.
According to the 2023 State of Content Marketing report compiled by Semrush, an online visibility management and content marketing platform:
- Forty-four percent of respondents said that improving the quality and value of their content has led to success.
- In that same survey, 69% of businesses had planned to increase their content marketing budgets in 2023.
The development and execution of a comprehensive content marketing strategy is one of the most effective ways to tell your organization’s story. It requires perpetual cultivation and merchandising of meaningful stories about your business. It also means implementing the waterfall approach to ensure that you are squeezing every last drop out of the hard work your team has put in to develop that white paper, blog post, or case study.
Here are four best practices to implement today.
#1 – Variety is Key
The world’s best chefs know that a palate-pleasing entrée rarely has just one ingredient. The best dishes are a medley of tastes and flavors, whether they are served on white linen under candlelight or at your kitchen table.
The same goes for an effective content marketing strategy designed to tell your brand’s story.
You should not rely on just one kind of content to deliver the message and give your brand a clear, recognizable voice. You need to tell a variety of stories about your people, your products, your solutions, your differentiators, and how you bring value to the industry.
For instance, if you and your team only focus on promoting products via your content marketing strategy, its one-dimensional nature will only get you so far in impacting your target audiences. It can be perceived as self-serving or self-absorbed. Mix in some thought leadership, some company news, and an analysis of trends and issues, and you have the makings of a winning content recipe.
#2 – Select Your Tactics Wisely
Once you land on the story you seek to tell, select the best tactic to tell that story.
Ensure that your content plan includes the development of a variety of assets that are tailored for different types of stories:
- News releases remain an effective tool to share company news. Have you developed a new product designed to directly address a challenge your customers face? Share that news with the industry. Have you invested in new technologies or a new facility to upgrade your offerings? Have you hired someone that brings gravitas to your organization? Let people know what is happening.
- Case studies and project profiles provide your prospects with an inside look at how one of your solutions or products performed in a real-world scenario. These effective content marketing assets also enable you to introduce a customer’s experience after working with your brand, which carries substantial third-party credibility. According to Content Marketing Institute, 73% of the most successful content marketers used case studies.
- Blog posts or authored articles provide a platform for your subject matter experts to offer their insight and perspective on key industry issues, which can help position your building products brand as a thought leader in the industry. When engineered properly, these content assets focus on higher-level concepts that impact a broad array of your target audiences and include examples from your own business to buttress the case you are making.
- White papers and surveys take a deeper dive on an issue or challenge. They require research and the gathering of statistics and data to illuminate a specific issue. They are most effective when they offer objective data to support their conclusions.
- Videos – whether they are long-form or short-form pieces – take your engagement as a brand to the next level. Consider how prevalent they have become on social media. Whether the videos you produce provide your customers and prospects with an inside look at your operation, capture your people at work, or showcase your work on behalf of one of your customers, they are a powerful asset to maintain in your arsenal.
- Infographics often enable your brand to impart a large amount of information in a more approachable way. Because they are visual, they are engineered to break down data into digestible chunks, making everything easier to understand.
Sometimes, stories can and should be told using multiple tactics. For instance, a case study on paper can really come to life on video. Perhaps telling the story via both channels is worthwhile.
#3 – Choose Your Channels
You and your team have spent months developing a white paper or weeks writing a blog post. What is the best way to get the word out and share your work? What channels – earned, owned, paid – make the most sense? Ask yourself a series of questions to determine your next move:
- Does the content asset you have developed carry news value? Might the industry media consider it as a guest column or authored article? Could the author serve as a source on the issue? If so, perhaps earned media is the right pathway. This means you start with the development of a media pitching strategy to see if you can secure an earned media placement. Success in this arena means what your team has developed will carry added credibility if it appears in the industry press. You have not paid for the slot. You have earned it.
- Whether you are successful in placing the asset in earned media or not, you now have something that can populate your website or a landing page (depending upon the subject). Fresh blog posts enable your brand to share content via a newsletter, through email nuture campaigns, or on your social media channels, all considered owned media.
- Could the content asset you have developed serve as a lead generation vehicle on your website? Perhaps you share only 10 percent of the asset and ask respondents to share contact information or fill out a form before they can download the entire article. Gating the asset places a higher value on it and can help you generate marketing-qualified leads for the business.
- Could the customer testimonial you gathered serve as the springboard for a creative advertising campaign? A customer’s voice can go a long way toward convincing a prospect to try out your brand.
#4 – Slice, Dice, and Merchandise
Ensure you are exploring every pathway to share the content you have developed by waterfalling your content:
- If you have produced a three-minute video on a customer solution, go back and excise small bits of the video – as little as 15 or as long as 45 seconds to a minute – and prepare them for sharing on social media. These snippets are impactful and often stop people from scrolling by your content on their social media feeds. They also give your followers a taste of the story you have told. Embed a call to action so your followers can visit your website or your YouTube channel to view the full video.
- The same works for podcasts. Edit a snippet of an episode that poses a specific question and then highlights a short video of the answer from a subject matter expert. Share it on social media, and embed a call to action inviting followers to watch the entire episode on YouTube or on their favorite podcast platform.
- A smartly engineered blog post or case study can certainly optimize search engine results for your brand, particularly if you have employed the right keyword strategy in the development phase. At the same time, that blog post is static if you are not drawing attention to it. Get as much mileage out of it as possible. Populate your social media calendar with posts that send people to the blog post or case study so they can read the full story. Merchandise this brand journalism effort in email marketing campaigns designed to drive awareness or generate leads.
- Take a second look at a white paper or a blog post. Is there a way to bring a part of it to life in an infographic? Work with your graphic designers to visually impart the information so you are telling part of the story. This stand-alone graphic can become a component in an eNewsletter. It can also serve as a social media post that leads followers to the full story on your website. The sales team may also find a way to transform a white paper into a sales presentation or engagement tool as they work to secure new business.
The Universal Approach
It takes immense amounts of time and effort to sustain a perpetual content marketing strategy for a building products brand.
Success depends upon following a methodical approach to the stories you select, how you share them, and how you cascade and merchandise them across all the available channels. Do so systematically, and each content asset will be engineered to provide maximum return on investment.
BLD Marketing is a results-based, digitally-focused, full-service strategic marketing firm exclusively serving the commercial and residential building materials category.