Your organisation is an unstoppable content generation machine. Whether you are in technology, telecommunications, publishing, financial or professional services, think about how much content you produce: news, press releases, research reports, white papers, case studies, insights, sales presentations, proposals, copy for your brochures, websites, products, solutions, manuals and the list goes on. Usually, content appears to just happen; nobody plans it, nobody owns it and nobody is checking to see if anyone out there is reading.
Typical pains associated with arbitrary content generation are:
- Product managers focus on feature jargon only they can understand
- Strategy people tend to turn thoughts into dissertations
- The company website’s copy was more or less copied from the previous website
- No one knows if anyone reads the case studies on the website and if they add any value
- Is a white paper better off as a registration sweetener or reward?
- The PR agency is writing some stuff for the news section, but they don’t understand SEO
- A work experience person wrote the LinkedIn company description; he even misspelled the company’s name
Such problems lead to a lot of effort invested into content creation but for very little return. Call it “Content Strategy” or “Content Marketing”, content should be treated with a lot more love and attention than many companies show it. Content should aim to be 3 things:
- The single voice of your brand
- An investment for your business
- An asset for your audience
Your strategy to achieve these three aims should include the following:
As with most marketing activities, your goals are likely to be data capture, sales, leads, relationship building, brand awareness, etc. Take data capture for example:
- Well crafted, targeted and promoted email newsletter content will entice registrations – it is certainly helping a client of ours grow their database by 10% year on year.
- A market report on a current topic relevant to your audience will definitely get their interest – a great trick is to partner with your industry’s main publication and push a fact-finding questionnaire to their database and incentivise responses with the promise of a free copy of the report.
Establish who your audience is, how it is segmented, what the pains and triggers are and where you can add value – segments can be defined based on factors such as industry, discipline, stage of the buying cycle and geography. We are currently helping a client segment their audience for content marketing and we are looking at 5 industries, 5 disciplines and a global footprint – tricky stuff!
Appoint and involve your content creators; probably a mixture of internal resources such as colleagues from product development, sales, marketing, strategy and corporate comms and external like your PR agency and other creative and technical suppliers. Such a diverse group of people, often with conflicting interests will need to be managed as a team with regular meetings, briefings, etc.
There are numerous channels to help you push your content, capture interest and involve your audience; from the traditional (email, news feeds, blog, website, printed collateral) to the exotic (Twitter, LinkedIn, Slideshare, mobile apps). To maximise ROI you will have to experiment with various channels in order to establish the most effective and efficient ways for your content to reach your audience and for your audience to reach you. For example, your audience might not be using RSS readers, which means that the blog you have spent so much time populating with the latest insights and innovative thinking is not read by anyone that matters and that you have to use your well received email newsletter to promote new blog posts.
Tracking is mandatory for a number of reasons: without it ROI will not improve as you won’t know what works and what doesn’t; without success stories it will be difficult to engage everyone in your organisation and to accelerate content generation; without learning what your audience is interested in, you won’t be able to deliver more of what they want.
The plan is the most important component as it will bring together authors, audience, production capacity, channels, content and goals. For example, a 12-month plan for white paper generation could include:
- Frequency (i.e. one per quarter)
- Audience (i.e. CTOs)
- Author (i.e. Product Development Director)
- Research (i.e. timings, source of information, owner)
- Promotion channels (i.e. email newsletter, Twitter, samples on your blog and Slideshare)
- Data capture mechanism (i.e. form)
- Distribution (i.e. PDF, HTML text, print)
- Follow up (i.e. feedback form, permission for further comms)
- ROI expectations
Content is a powerful marketing tool: Recognise it, harness it and exploit it. Often, recognising the potential is half the effort needed to achieve something. Ownership sits with you, but the whole organisation has to also see the value and follow your lead.