BtoB marketers often position their content marketing to portray 4 kinds of relationships. As you publish content, does it convey that you’re a guru, guide, partner or helper? Are the content’s nature and voice consistent with that relationship?
Be mindful about the kind of relationship you wish to have with content consumers and customers. Don’t unconsciously position your content all over the map .
Guru content offers observations, insights and wisdom that come from big-picture thinking. Guru content comes from brands that work to stay 2 or 3 steps ahead of their followers or tribes.
You may have several gurus in your life, each operating in a different dimension. Imagine:
- Your friend who always knows the great new restaurant, the book to read, the movie to see, the music to hear.
- Your colleague who’s always onto the latest business trends, new technology or marketing approaches.
- Your friend who understands the intricacies of politics, sees regulatory changes before they happen, forecasts who’s going to run in the next election, what legislation has a chance and what doesn’t.
That’s guru content. In social media, you’ll find gurus on Yelp and Trip Advisor. What’s your favorite guru content?
When a guru is successful with his content, you feel like you’re getting smarter just by reading the blog, studying the book or hearing the speech. Here are 5 ways to develop guru content for your brand:
- Think deeply. Gurus win respect by thinking deeply about a topic, its history, its role in life, in the economy and in the future. That gives gurus a platform to discern what works, what’s already not working (but people haven’t figured it out yet), and what may work best in the future.
- Put forward controversial observations, opinions and forecasts. Gurus make statements and ask questions that can instantly divide an audience into ardent supporters and vocal doubters. Be thought-provoking. Gurus don’t leave a lot of people in the middle. If your goal is to be all things to all people, to be popular above all, then a guru position won’t work for you.
- Think globally. Another guru example is Springwise, who collects examples of innovation from around the world. For example, a beer bottle that unlocks content online. An exercise desk that charges your smartphone in the airport. It takes a guru to follow what’s happening in innovation globally.
- Present content simply to deliver useful insights. For example, Siegel & Gale champions simplicity, publishing a global simplicity index.
- Be a generous teacher. Generous gurus give away their knowledge, expecting nothing in return. Their unselfishness draws people closer to them.
Gurus speculate about the future. A guru’s crystal ball is sometimes crystal-clear and sometimes cloudy. Some of the forecasts and predictions will come true. Others won’t. It comes with the territory.
Gurus can irritate people, particularly if they appear to be arrogant know-it-alls. The best gurus radiate humility. They admit they don’t know it all. They admit when they’re wrong – and share what they’ve learned.
It takes a bold CEO to set the tone for a guru brand – a Steve Jobs or Richard Branson. Someone with the courage to be right, or to be wrong. For example, one year Steve Jobs said that a closed ecosystem for apps was ideal, then a year later he reversed himself. The market changed, his thinking changed, and he adapted – which is crucial for a guru.
Guru content promises to stay ahead of its tribe. It takes itself pretty seriously. Does guru content make sense for your brand and your content?
Next week: 5 ways to become customers’ guide through content marketing.
As a marketing change agent, I consult with clients, lead content marketing workshops for the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), and write the weekly Simplify Marketing blog.
With experience from Fortune 500 companies such as AT&T, RR Donnelley and Tellabs, I've been named:
- Content Marketer of the Year by the Content Marketing Institute.
- Best Marketer by BtoB magazine.
- A B-to-B CMO to watch by Fierce CMO.