Content marketing: Time to take off the blinders

bigger view - content strategy

Developing a content strategy that effectively engages people involves more than simply choosing the content to put on yourwebsite or tweaking what’s already there. It should center around ALL aspects of the way your company communicates with its target audiences.

Recently, I had conversations with several content specialists. Their definitions of the term “content marketing” were tactical in nature rather than strategic. They suggested things like, “Do a review of the client’s current website and make recommendations on how to improve it.”  And, “Do an overall communications assessment – including the client’s website, SEO and social media efforts, and develop a plan for improvement.”

A lot of fix-it stuff to do, but no real big-picture game plan.

You’ve got to take your blinders off!

A bigger view of content strategy

Don’t get me wrong.

Assessing what you’ve done to date is an important part of creating a content strategy. But it’s only one small part of it. The other core pieces ought to include this list of important elements. (I’ve made the a checklist so you can keep track of your progress):

☐ Objectives that are tied to key business objectives. Content marketing cannot be an end unto itself. It must deliver a business impact in order to be successful.

☐ Detailed research into customer needs, which is used to build customer personas for each segment of your target audience.

☐ Development of a customer journey map that visually depicts the process customers follow from the time they realize they have a need until they purchase a product.

☐ Customer content needs that are mapped against that customer journey.

☐ An editorial calendar that considers all media where messages can be communicated.

☐ A tightly-designed set of content should move prospects toward a desirable action, usually a sale or a deeper relationship.

☐ An assessment of competitors and their messaging, to help you differentiate your content so it stands out.

Think “Big Picture” about content strategy

Don’t limit yourself to just improving what you’re already doing.

Get creative with these additional channels:

  • Podcasts: For some industries, a podcast may be an excellent way to educate prospects.
  • Print: A print magazine may be just what’s needed to provide your target audience with an engaging experience that builds trust, understanding and preference.
  • Educational Video: If your product or service is very visual in nature, perhaps a series of brief educational videos will help your company to stand out in their minds.
  • Integrate: Look for integration opportunities in your communications. For example, what if you produced a printed mailer that was a “teaser” for a more complete message online?

Don’t be blinded by cool, new technology, however. Always be mindful of where your customer is at and the channels and messaging formats they’re most comfortable with.

Content assessments: Your mileage may vary

If you lack the staff and expertise to launch and manage a consistent content program, a content marketing agency may be able to help you. But keep in mind that having an agency assess the quality of what you’re doing can be a very subjective exercise.

Also know that an agency’s point of view tends to be biased by its existing business specialty. In other words, a social media expert will tend to look at content as a tool for social media channels. An SEO firm will tend to view content as a tool to increase search engine rankings. You’ve probably heard the saying, “When you have a hammer, everything tends to look like a nail.”

Ideally, the agency you select to help you ought to be agnostic. They need to be committed to accurately assessing your current communications program AND identifying new opportunities.

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