A Beginner’s Guide on How to Grow Your Brand Through Content Marketing: Develop a Content Differentiation Factor & Audience Persona

Julia McCoy

Julia McCoy

Creator and Co-founder

how to grow your brand online

Here’s a scary fact.

Your blog probably won’t get noticed in today’s noisy, saturated online world.

Brian Dean from Backlinko and BuzzSumo did a study of 912 million blog posts.

What they found:

94% of content has zero backlinks.

Now that you know what you’re up against…

These numbers should uplift instead of discourage you.

Because think of it. 5 million blog posts per day, but 94% of them aren’t good enough to earn coveted backlinks.


You could step up, grab that attention, and be part of the 6% that’s super successful. ⭐️

In this blog, I’ll show you how to do it — how to grow your brand online successfully.

I’ll teach you:

  • How to grow your brand through content marketing (no matter how much noise is already online).
  • My 2-key secret to winning a legion of fans and skyrocketing your brand through your content.
  • How to know your audience, and more importantly, know yourself and your brand.
  • And more!

Let’s dive in.

how to grow your brand online

How to Use Content Marketing to Grow Your Brand: Watch Me Explain How to Develop a Content Differentiation Factor & an Audience Persona

How to Grow Your Brand Online, The Ultimate Guide: A Brief Introduction

OK, first things first.

Before I spill my secret recipe for content marketing success, let me quickly brief you in on how to use content marketing to build your brand.

I created this unique 6-step framework to guide you through the basics.

Let me explain it to you:

Step #1: Know what makes YOUR BRAND different and unique (your Content Differentiation Factor).

Step #2: Get to know your audience, then learn how to turn them into buyers.

Step #3: SEO! 92.5% of all traffic now comes from Google. Which means, it’s SUPER important to optimize your content for search engines.

Step #4: Hunker down and build your brand presence online. Build your own content house (your website),and focus on making it a source of your audience can trust. 

Step #5: Create content your audience will love and devour. Content that converts by the droves.

Step #6: Keep moving forward! Set a reasonable budget, promote on the right channels, and keep updating your content for relevance.

Follow all these steps, and you’ll be on your way to content strategy and marketing that works.

Want to dive deeper into the framework? Sign up for my FREE, choose-your-level training here.

Now, let’s get into my secrets to content marketing that (really) works.

I know!

You go online and find people listing 10 or even 20 ways you can boost your content marketing success.

But for me, it boils down to an essential two.

Here they are.

How to Grow Your Brand Online Through Content Marketing

Key #1: Develop Your Content Differentiation Factor

“Get to know your audience first,” they say.

“Scouring analytics is the #1 step for any marketer,” they say.

What do I think?

“They” are missing the mark.

Although, yes, your audience is SO important…

…there’s one step that comes before getting to know them.

Developing your content differentiation factor (CDF).

Let’s get into it.

1. What Is a Content Differentiation Factor (CDF)?

In simple terms, your CDF is who you are.

It’s the #1 thing that sets your content apart from all the other brands out there.

I bet you’ve heard of a USP (unique selling proposition). A USP is about how your product is different from your competitors’ products.

A CDF is like that, but slightly different. It’s how YOU and YOUR CONTENT are different from your competitors’.

What makes your content stand out in a world where 5 million blog posts are published per day?


Let’s look at an example.

There’s a ton of financial advice online. When you go through it, it’s the same thing again and again.

Live like a pauper. Don’t buy that Starbucks. Stop renting.

But then one day you see content like this.

Ramit Sethi blog content

Source: iwillteachyoutoberich.com

This turns your head. You wonder, “That’s a MYTH? Why, I’ve believed that my whole life!”

Let me tell you this.

If you can create unique content like this, you’re on your way to turning millions of heads with your CDF.

2. How to Find Your Content Differentiation Factor

Now, it’s time to get your hands dirty and find your own content differentiation factor.

Follow these five steps to get closer to your goal.

Step #1: Tell Your Story in a Unique Way

It’s unlikely you’ll be the only brand doing what you’re doing.

But you don’t have to be like everyone else.

For instance, my brand Express Writers sells content. No, we’re not the only brand selling content online. But we thrive on our unique story: impactful content that can grow a company without paid ads.

We did it ourselves, and we can do it for you.

That’s our unique story, and a huge part of our CDF.

Express Writers story

Source: expresswriters.com

How to do it: Spend time thinking about why you started your brand and what you believe in. Keep this in mind every time you write content for your brand.

Step #2: Tie Your USP into Your Content

Your USP and CDF are closely united.

To find your CDF, dig deeper into your USP. What does your brand offer that’s different from other brands?

Take a look at Michelle’s USP in her blog, Making Sense of Cents.

Making Sense of Cents USP

At first, you roll your eyes and think it’s like all those other frugality blogs that force you to live like a pauper.

But the USP is clear. It’s not only “save more.” It’s “earn more,” and “live more” as well.

This is Michelle’s USP, and she ties it in nicely with content that tells you how to live richly and freely while avoiding unwanted expense.

How to do it: Ask yourself, “What sets me apart from other brands?” Tie this USP into all your content.

Step #3: Don’t Talk About Features

Imagine this.

You walk into a car dealership and you’re met by a salesman who’s grinning ear-to-ear. For the next half hour, we raves on and on about a car’s:

  • ABS brakes
  • 450 horsepower
  • 500 lb-ft torque

Your eyes are closing.

You don’t care.

But what if he told you:

  • Your baby will be safe in the backseat if ever you have to abruptly hit the brakes.
  • Your car can get you to your destination in two hours instead of four.
  • You’ll beat every other car on a stoplight.

Now you’re listening.

Because the truth is, people don’t care about features. They care about benefits.  

Check this landing page for an excellent example of benefit-oriented content.

benefit oriented content

Source: start.growthlab.com

How to do it: List down the benefits your brand provides. Focus on these benefits when nailing down your CDF.

Step #4: Nail Down Your Tone

It won’t work if you’re chatty and fun in one blog…

…and then drop-dead jargony in the next.

A consistent voice is a HUGE part of your CDF.

Check out Brittany Berger’s fun, upbeat tone. Scroll through her blog and see how she maintains this tone in all her content.  

Brittany Berger

Source: brittanyberger.com

How to do it: Spend time thinking of how you want to portray your brand through content. Fun? Serious? Bold? Fresh? Surprising? Then, develop a tone and keep it consistent in every piece you publish, whether that’s blogs, landing pages, emails, social media content, etc.

Step #5: Perfect Your Approach

What you believe in determines how you approach your content.

Do you believe the whole world is beautiful?

Do you believe humans are kind by nature?

Do you believe you should start a savings account at 20?

For example, Ramit Sethi believes the standard rules for budgeting simply don’t work. He believes in living a rich life, and approaches every piece of content he writes with this belief.

Ramit Sethi email content

How to do it: Take a piece of paper (or open up a doc) and write down the #1 thing you believe in as a brand. Keep this belief forefront each time you write.

Want to keep up with the best in content marketing and get awesome tips, hacks, and advice? Grab the Content Hacker Educational Resource List, where I’ll give you all the blogs, books, and shows every up-and-coming content marketer should follow. 

Key #2: Build Your Audience Persona to Grow Your Brand Online

“Know thy audience.”

The first commandment in the Bible of marketing.

Except, what does it mean to know your audience?

A few hours scouring Google Analytics? A day imagining who can possibly benefit from your product?

It’s not that easy.

Here are five steps I’ve developed for really getting to know your audience and building your buyer personas.

serious business owner map

Step #1: Talk to Your Audience

If you want to know what someone wants, ask them!

A ton of marketers make the mistake of thinking of their buyers as statistics. “40 years old.” “Lives in Georgia.” “High up in the funnel.”

But your buyers are more than just that.

They’re real, living human beings. They’re unpredictable. They’re constantly changing.

The best (and maybe only) way to really know them is to talk to them.

Here are two proven-and-tested tips for attracting an audience and learning about them.

  • Offer them a free gift card as incentive. Your audience is busy. They have 1,000 other things to do. To catch their attention and make them want to give you 30 minutes of their time, offer them a cool incentive like a gift card.
  • Hop on a call with them. Show your audience you care! Set up a Zoom call with them. Ask them how you can serve them. You can treat this as in-depth market research. Trust me, this works. Back in 2018, I conducted 15 interviews with prospects, and it was GREAT! Check out our happy smiles below. Here’s Sandy from Texas.
client call with Sandy

And Netanel from Israel!

client call with Netanel

Step #2: Run Paid Surveys

Right now, you’re thinking, “But what if I don’t have potential buyers to jump on a Zoom call with?”

No worries.

You can always run a paid survey for cold prospects.

One of the best ways is to run one with Google Surveys.

All you need to do to get started is answer a few questions and read their terms and conditions.

You’ll then be taken to a page where you can create your own unique surveys.

Google surveys

Source: surveys.google.com

Remember, set your budget before running the survey. You’ll be charged whenever someone answers it.

Google survey prices

Source: support.google.com

Step #3: Connect with Real Prospects on Social Media

There are currently 3.8 billion people on social media. (Over half the world’s population!)

This means your audience is definitely using social platforms.

To learn about and connect with them, start by typing in a keyword in the search field (you can also use hashtags if you’re on Instagram).

For example, “content marketing.”

Click Groups and you’ll see something like this.

content marketing groups on Facebook

Source: facebook.com

Request to join groups that catch your interest. Read what members are saying. Engage with them.

Remember though, don’t spam them. Do your best to feel their pain points and learn how you can help them.

(If you already have followers on social, then great! Get to know more about them, talk to them, and learn who they follow.)

Step 4: Build Your Buyer Persona

After you’ve gathered your research, sit down to craft your buyer personas. These should include:

  • Your audience’s goals and motivations
  • Your audience’s fears and frustrations
  • Your audience’s age, buying power, civil status, and stage in life
  • Your audience’s buying process

For example, let’s say you asked these questions in your interview or paid surveys:

  • Why is buying the right shoes important to you?
  • What do you hate most about shopping for running shoes?
  • How much would you usually spend on a pair of running shoes?

Depending on the answers you get, build a realistic buyer persona like the one below.

buyer persona - competitive Claire

Source: My Content Strategy & Marketing Course

Step #5: Use Your Surveys and Personas to Build New Products

By now, you deeply know your audience.

You know what they want. What they dream. What they fear.

Which means?

You can use your surveys, personas, and audience knowledge to serve them better.

A great example of this is how I created my course, The Expert SEO Content Writer.

After a brilliant light-bulb moment in which I learned I COULD teach people to write, I sat down and wrote a survey asking them what they wanted.

Over 50 people replied, and I got my brilliant idea: a course on how to write for search engines AND humans to rank better on Google.

I LOVE this technique, which is why I use it again and again to build new products and programs.

Just recently, I ran a survey on Twitter which helped me come up with my latest paid service, a POWERFUL, live, subscription-based community named G.R.O.W. with Julia.

G.R.O.W. with Julia went from “Here’s a great idea from a late night of insomnia, that I think my audience needs” (I’d heard the request for live and group coaching land in my inbox for years now), to “I know my audience needs this with a simple poll.”

How to Grow Your Brand Online with Content Marketing (It’s Not What You Expect)

I know, growing your brand through content marketing sounds HARD.

You hear a ton of advice from all directions.

You’re dashed by every wave of new trends that hits the shore.

If this is you, it’s time to stop listening to “them” and focus on what’s really important.

And you only need two essential elements to get started!

So go ahead.

Find your content differentiation factor.

Build your audience personas.

Once these are done, you’ll be amazed at how much closer you are to your content marketing goals than when you started.

And… if you need help finding and building these tools, not to mention, growing your brand through content…

Have I got the solution for you. 💡

Creative entrepreneurs: Are you tired of the ups-and-downs of trying to be successful? Ready to build a sustainable online business the long-term, strategic way?

Consider applying to my transformative coaching program, The Content Transformation System, where I’ll teach you how to set up your business, systems, and marketing in 90 days or less — and reach the income and impact you crave.

Apply today to get started.


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