By Peter LaMotte, Senior Vice President, LEVICK and Chair of the Digital Communications Practice

The days of the hard sell are over. What works today to build a brand (both for businesses and individual leaders) is content marketing – delivering information of value to a targeted audience and promoting it strategically across a variety of social media platforms.

Here are six ways executives and business leaders can use content marketing to improve their brand reputations:

1. Offer quality blog content.

Of the nearly countless blogs out there, what drives prospective customers to choose one blog over another? For starters, people recognize quality when they see it. Blog posts that address the issues and concerns of a specific industry, in a distinctive voice and with a fresh perspective, are often too compelling to ignore. A blog that’s concise and gets to the point is equally persuasive, as opposed to long-winded articles designed to stroke an executive’s ego.

As a business leader, you’ve accumulated considerable knowledge and experience over the years. What’s your take on current trends in your field? How do you see future developments affecting your industry? Are there new laws and regulations on the horizon your clients want to know about?

Look at the problems your clients face. Offer cogent solutions. Speak to them in a voice they can identify with (which means adjusting your tone and language for, say, Millennials as opposed to Baby Boomers). Give advice and insights people can act upon.

Providing insights and guidance builds your brand by demonstrating your expertise and reliability as a trustworthy source.

2. Offer images, video and infographics.

These days, it’s not always enough just to offer quality content in text form. People respond favorably to well-chosen imagery (a different type of “content marketing”) and if this entices them to read your blog post, so much the better.

Videos have become a wildly popular brand-building and content-marketing tool. They’re shared more often among Web visitors and can drive significant traffic to a website (especially if a video goes viral). Think about ways you can translate the information from your blog post or article into a video format. What types of images lend themselves to what you have to say? How can you repurpose content in an entertaining and engaging way?

Infographics – combining text with eye-catching graphics – is another effective shorthand tool for delivering quality content. If a particular topic involves some impressive statistics, consider employing this option for building your brand.

3. Promote your expertise through social media marketing.

Your great blog posts aren’t worth much if they don’t get read. Fortunately, through social media marketing, it’s possible to steadily build a significant audience (and enhance your brand at the same time).

As a business leader, you should already be well represented on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other key social networks. When you publish a new post, let everyone in your various networks know about it. Make your posts easier to share by including sharing buttons in your blog and across your website in general.

Here’s where your knowledge of audience preferences becomes most valuable. For example, if visitors and prospective customers in your field seem to favor Twitter over other channels, devise a schedule for tweeting new content on those days and times when your audience is most likely on Twitter. Just be careful not to overdo it.

4. Take time to build online relationships.

As your audience grows, so does your brand reputation. When visitors comment on your post – regardless of where they come across it – keep the dialogue going by responding to their comments, answering any questions that arise and/or asking questions of your own. Another great brand-building tip: Follow other industry experts and add helpful comments at the end of their posts. People will gradually come to recognize your feedback and look forward to more.

5. Explore guest blogging as an option.

Who are the key figures in your industry? It’s likely they have blogs that require an influx of fresh content. Reach out to these individuals (or online publications), offering to do a guest post on an important topic. Appearing on even one or two of the most highly touted industry blogs almost instantly brands you as an up-and-coming executive to watch.

6. Share your presentations online.

Short text and visual presentations are also good brand-building techniques. Either use a presentation you’ve recently delivered to a client or live audience, or convert a blog post into a series of bullet points, then upload a PDF or PowerPoint version on sites like Slideshare and Sliderocket.

Content marketing encompasses a wide range of formats (including podcasts, webinars and e-newsletters). The strategic delivery of quality content builds trust in your brand and moves prospective customers closer to doing business with you.

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