Five Tips for a Content Strategy

Patti RennerBack in J-School at Ohio State, my professors hammered home the point that “Copy is king.” Again, when my path went from newspapers to magazines to direct response, it was the same mantra. But 25 years later, it seems that King Copy has an heir to the marketing throne – her name is Content.
Even though today’s consumers may claim that they get too many emails or they have too much information, don’t believe it. People are becoming more and more connected – perpetually connected – which means they’re using multiple digital devices at multiple locations to tap into the content they need at all hours of the day and night. They’re always on, and because they’re always on, they will continue to crave even more content – just not the same old garbage some marketers keep putting out there.

Consumers do want your brand’s marketing content, provided it’s what they’re actually looking for. Like 24-hour news channels, today’s marketers need to plan around the 24-hour content age that’s upon us.

Here are five tips to help you streamline your strategy to keep feeding meaningful content to a hungry audience.

  1. Get a schedule in place – Marketers are now publishers. And like most publishers, having an editorial schedule in place increases clarity and efficiency for your team. If you’re pushing a special on Product A in July, what collateral pieces can support the buying experience or solve additional problems for customers of Product A? During what season does Product A sell best, and what seasonal advice or entertainment can prove useful to your audience? Plan your content production cycles accordingly to maximize value for your audience.
  2. Develop a recipe – Consider how your customer at each step of the buyer’s journey prefers content from you. Reviews, reports, comparisons, how-to advice, articles, tips, blog posts, newsletters, videos, workshops, training, inspiration examples – choose the format each persona or market segment prefers and work on those first. Build your plan around your people. Then you know the elements needed to support the process so you can schedule production of each piece.
  3. Rewrite and repurpose – It’s time to clean out the perpetual cupboards of old content. Dig through the archives of blog posts, articles, whitepapers, etc. Like a surgeon, cut away that which is no longer useful or no longer supports your current positioning. See what you have left that’s valuable and consider repurposing it to expand your content available. For instance, an article you wrote two years ago could be updated, edited and turned into a blog post (or series of posts), a screencast or video, a Prezi infographic, a case study, a “top things you should know about…” article, and more. You also can compile multiple small pieces of content into a short report, guide or ebook to give away.
  4. Remember the three Es – Engage. Entertain. Enlighten. Great content should do all three. More on this in a future post.
  5. Think like your customer – Use your enterprise data. Use your customer service inquiries. Read the online forums. Go where people are talking with other people to see what their concerns are. What frustrates them? What questions do they have? Consider who your customer is and how to make their life easier. Making a list of top concerns, questions and gripes can give you a good head start when creating a content strategy – one that will be embraced by those you serve.

And did you notice I said “those you serve” and not “those you sell to”? Taking a servant’s mindset to your approach to content – focusing on brand relationship instead of specific product push – can go a long way in attracting and delighting these connected, scattered customers we so desperately wish to impress. Do something useful.

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