Content, content, content - Yes, it’s still king and should still be at the top of the marketing or digital strategy agenda. So where to start? How does it fit in the overall marketing or communications plan? How to consistently produce? After helping a dozen or so organizations tackle the challenge of content, I’ve distilled it into four main phases and developed a content framework (at the end of the post) to help visualize the process with your team.
But first, what’s the difference? Content Marketing vs. Content Strategy.
Whereas content marketing is typically aimed at building an audience and meeting marketing or communications objectives, such as lead nurturing or engagement (it’s the ‘why’ of the content), the content strategy as a whole should also outline how the organization will create, gather and distribute the content. I like to simply refer to it as a content strategy as it combines both of these disciplines.
At its core, your content strategy should answer the following questions:
Who are we helping? What do they need? What problem are we trying to solve for our customers with the right content and information at the right time? How will we produce and distribute it consistently?
Four easy steps to get your content groove on:
1. Identify the audience and their needs
Who are they? What do we know about them and their needs? If you have many audiences, it certainly helps to prioritize them into primary and secondary.
Think about and define the needs of each group.
What are the needs that we address as an organization? Are there any unmet needs?
What do we need FROM them?
Why are we trying to reach, inform, serve, and educate this audience? To what end?
2. Identify your Content Assets and Activities
This is where you examine your existing assets or your gaps. What content will we produce or are we already producing to meet the needs identified in phase one? What assets do we already have?
What activities will make a connection between our content and the audience (i.e., blogs, emails, apps, web content, meetings, webinars, etc.)?
How do key audiences and stakeholders want to /or need to access this information? Does it need to be mobile, fast, just in time, secure, bite size or in-depth, etc.? Are we co-creating content with other partners?
All of the above will inform platform and channel choices. This will also be somewhat dependent on the organization’s resources and marketing tech stack (tools).
3. Define your Content Workflow. How you will execute?
A strategy is nothing without execution. This is where you define your processes by reviewing your workflow and how you will consistently produce relevant content. The goals at this phase are to: address current challenges, improve operational efficiency, and maximize resources.
What can we standardize and template?
Who needs to be involved in writing/review/publishing for each platform?
Are there any gaps in tools or resources?
What does the schedule look like?
What tools will we use to manage our content plan, distribute and publish?
4. Develop a Measurement Framework
How will you know you are successful? What metrics should you be using?
A general rule of thumb for all measurement frameworks is to structure your data collection and metrics around future decisions you want to make. In other words, what do we need to know about this particular activity that will help us refine our strategy next week, next month or next year?
You also want to ensure your metrics are tied back to overall marketing Key Performance Indicators. Is it brand awareness, increasing leads, increase reaching into a new market, increasing engagement with a particular segment? This will provide some rigor to your content planning and steer you away from vanity metrics (i.e., metrics that are easy to track for the sake of tracking, unless they are specifically tied to a goal: visits, users, downloads, time on site, etc.).
If you’re like me, it helps to visualize the process from end to end. The framework below pulls all of the elements in the four phases together. I’ve found it particularly valuable to explain where the content strategy fits within the various strategic plans the organization might be developing.
Content essentially pulls all of your integrated marketing and communications together. It can engage and build a following, instil trust in your brand by answering key questions and establish your organization as a thought leader.
Send me your thoughts on this framework and if you’d like to have a copy that you can share with your team, send me a note.
In working with marketing, BI and sales teams over the years, I've noticed a regular misuse of the terms segments and personas. Although often used in complementary ways, they are not one and the same. Here’s how I would differentiate.
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