It’s good to talk. To have conversations with your customers and your target audience. It’s revealing, engaging and it helps you do better business. It’s the message that we, at Spinnaker, put out and it is a belief that we apply to the way in which we do business with our own clients and prospects.
Recently these conversations have been enlightening. Particularly when it comes to a growth in positive attitudes to content marketing. It is encouraging to listen to a burgeoning belief in a tangible role for content as part of the marketing mix.
‘Hitherto direct response only’ driven clients are now talking about the risks of reaching a DR performance ceiling if this avenue is pursued to the exclusion of other avenues. They see the potential of content to take their brand story to a more engaging level as an emotional differentiator as well as a sales driver. Other client categories are waking up to the power and potential of content as complimentary to traditional forms of marketing. Growing engagement, cheaper means of video creation, and low cost/highly targeted means of content distribution are all contributing to this shift.
All good news but what comes through loud and clear are two key challenges.
- THE PAIN OF CONTENT OVERLOAD
Firstly, as consumers we can all see the mass of content that we have to wade through every day. Marketers, whose internal and external teams have been producing great swathes of the stuff, are now gasping for air and wondering how to make sense of it all. What is relevant? How should it be organised? How can we ensure it is consumed by the right people at the right time? Filling the airwaves with quantity is no longer an option. It might look good on a PowerPoint slide at an internal marketing round up but, most likely, it will be achieving little in terms of engagement.
- THE INFLUENCE AND IMPACT OF CONTENT MARKETING
The second point raised by new and old marketers alike is the perennial debate about measurement and the need to finally get to grips with what is contributing what. Acknowledgement that content is important – tick. Understanding and selling the worth of it to other internal stakeholders – needs work.
Given the importance of these two points I am going to cover these off in two separate blog posts.
So right here and now let’s tackle the challenge of ordering and organising content. While this is pertinent to organisations who have amassed a lot of content it is equally important for new kids on the content block. Both parties need to set the ground rules and framework for content order.
It has been very tempting for brands to jump to the approach that, if it glitters it is gold. Images, video, hilarious memes, infographics and pithy copy are all key components of great content but will only trigger interest if the prep work has been done. Content of this nature may look great but it may be irrelevant or tonally wrong and, even if it is on brief, it may be drowning amidst a load of crap content. It deserves air time but it won’t get any unless the hard yards have been done.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PROCESS
We have a method at Spinnaker stemming from our essence of ‘The Art of Conversation’. It is called the Spinnaker Way
It is how we believe content marketing should be approached to ensure relevance, oxygen and light. There are many methods to achieve the same thing but it is our way of laying down the checks and balances. It offers order where there is disorder.
PURPOSE AND MISSION STATEMENT
The obvious starting point? Well it should be obvious but too often it is not properly considered or documented. Always ask what is the purpose behind your content marketing efforts? What is your organisation’s content mission statement? This should be simple and contain the core elements of what you want your content marketing to achieve (define the overarching aim) amongst your core audience target (who are they) with the desired outcome of x (what actions do you want your audience to take). There will be subset objectives behind distinct personas, particular campaigns and certain stages of the customer journey but every successful content programme needs a clear and singleminded mission statement around which all stakeholders can group.
Auditing brand and competitor content is an imperative next stage. How is current and past activity performing against key metrics (search rankings, backlinks, shares, engagement, views, UGC), and in particular that which has been defined within our mission statement? How are things performing when measured against competitors? Is there clear and consistent tonality to the output of your brand’s content? Is a clear story line emerging? Which influencers are proving the most compelling – current or potential? As part of the audit we use social listening and insight tools & research to determine whether we are in-step with topics within category and amongst our audience.
This leads naturally to the point where personas are researched and defined. Geo demographics are useful and lifestyle pen portraits provide substance. But how does each of our audience types behave within category and within the digital landscape. What are the triggers for relevant behaviour and which channels, platforms and content types are most compelling?
All of the above is building a clear picture of where we want to be headed, how well we are currently faring and the characteristics of the audience we are after. Our next step is to mine our own story to unpick those aspects of our brand which are going to be most pertinent and effective for the aims and outcomes we are after. Defining these story pillars, sense checking their relevance to our persona types and then overlaying this onto the current content audit enables a much clearer perspective on what should be in and out across our current content range.
CUSTOMER JOURNEY PLANNING
The final step in the organisation and ordering of our content – that which is previously created, to be created or shortlisted for curation – is to create a matrix defining content by persona type and by stages in the customer journey. This will inform the type of content by channel, by type that needs to be used across the journey. Based on the bias of mission and purpose it will also inform the weighting that needs to be put to different types of content i.e from awareness through to action.
Tackling the above enables structure and order to be put to your content planning. It also tees up perfectly for the creation and curation of ‘on-strategy’ creative content; it enables clarity behind outreach, community management content calendars and influencer engagement; and it sets the rules for what, when and how to measure – the topic of next month’s blog.
So don’t let a content overload situation paralyse your content aims and ambitions. And don’t embark on content development with no clarity of framework. Get these points right and your content marketing will start to make sense – to you and all those to whom it is targeted.