I was asked recently for some advice on content strategy. I dug through my old NEXT agency BLOG archive and pulled this post as it was a very popular read. Enjoy!
The term “Content Strategy” is one of the most popular terms being used in marketing today and shows signs of continual adoption. With the increase in mobility, access to information and frankly, our incessant growing desire for the ability to share content, it is no surprise that businesses need a strategy for creating their content to be successful. It is essential businesses know WHAT to SAY about their business to stand apart in the marketplace and be remembered!
When assessing your business content strategy, you first need to determine which stage you are in and plan for all four to be developed. If you are a business that needs to re-position or refresh your marketplace distinction, you will need to begin with Stage One: Crafting the Message. Dedicated resources and time need to be allocated to this process as it is the foundation of all marketing efforts for your business.
Stage One: Crafting The Message
One of the most difficult aspects of marketing for businesses today is to determine WHAT To SAY about their business that is different, unique, memorable and enjoyed by their target audiences. Many businesses embark on creating their content through marketing campaigns or advertising. This is a short term solution and is very difficult to transition to the other stages for content strategy success. A marketing model and underlying strategy is required to determine which three aspects of your business you will promote through your content. At NEXT we use a visual marketing strategy model for our clients to help them have a framework they can “package” and communicate. This model acts as a training marketing tool for their team and aligns all content being created now and in the future. When crafting the message, we find creative ways to communicate the business uniqueness so that content is easily sourced, shared, remembered and managed. Remember, the goal of successful content strategy creation is to generate BRAND CHATTER™ – get people talking about your business!
Stage Two: Integrating the Message
Now that you have a completely unique marketing message, you must ensure it is integrated through all marketing zones in your business. You are not just placing your new message on your marketing materials, you need to ensure that all aspects of your operations is utilizing this messaging. Integrating your message works best when you involve your circles of influence – your team, clients, strategic alliances, etc. When we create a new business positioning with associated messaging for our clients we always recommend a team presentation. It is not only essential, it is energizing for the business. The new messaging needs to be communicated and learned internally first and then the integration will be more successful. The team typically finds a new sense of confidence and excitement for the business as well as they become champions for distributing and integrating the new messaging. Successful integration of your messaging includes all aspects of the business including the obvious marketing touchpoints requiring copywriting as well as the operationally dependent systems – website search engine optimization, sales scripting, keep in touch marketing materials, eCommunications, employee orientation, business documentation, etc.
Stage Three: Keeping the Message
Now that you have the message fully integrated in the business and marketing channels, it is critical that your message remain consistent. Too often businesses fail at maintaining their messaging or “keeping up with creating content” due to time constraints. Creating content is a system that needs to be implemented and maintained as a priority system for the business. A dedicated resource or team is needed to ensure the consistency of the message is intact. How do you create BRAND CHATTER™ if little or no content is being created? You must structure content creation into core responsibilities for your team. Social updates, ecommunications, marketing campaigns and employee communications need to be consistently delivering your distinction message in memorable and effective ways. A content schedule, key themes and image/video library are all critical tools to utilize to ensure consistency in your content creation and marketing messaging.
Stage Four: Measuring the Message
It is a powerful experience to hear or see your BRAND CHATTER™ at work. When you are consistent and predictable in your content creation, your message will be delivered effectively and shared. We keep a close eye on our clients BRAND CHATTER™ and do BRAND CHATTER™ Reviews to assess their marketing messaging effectiveness as well as the impact of their content. It is important to know what is being said about your business online and your content’s influence, reach and impact on your target audience. There are numerous tools available to measure your influence and impact including Google Analytics, Klout, FB Insights and more – the key is to USE the tool and measure the effectiveness of your content to be successful!