Opinion 5 minute read
Brands are embracing content marketing with varying degrees of skill and success. A brand in the UK doing it well at the moment is Barclays, in my opinion. I've been impressed with both the Digital Eagles and Life Skills campaigns. These are targeting particular challenges faced by two segments of society, teens and the older generation. They're doing it in a way that's engaging, informative and interactive. This positions them strongly in order to start a conversation and develop a relationship with these target audience groups.
So what should brands consider before adopting a content marketing approach?
Who should own the strategy?
This can be a challenge because the PR/communications team, as well as the marketing team, should have a role to ensure the message is consistent and the content is well written. In addition, they should identify the avenues for exposure and make sure they are accurately defined. They will also determine which audience group is targeted. If you have a separate social team then they will need to play a part.
The product and sales teams should be included so the tone of the content reflects a particular challenge the audience group is facing or reflects the solution the company is offering.
Overall, it needs a team approach.
Take a long-term view
It’s important to consider the strategy over the longer term. Content needs time to live and breathe out there in ‘Audienceville’ and different dissemination mechanisms have varying degrees of engagement pace.
My view is to plan 12 to 24 months ahead, but again, it’s dependent on many factors including:
- Speed of the sales cycle.
- How quickly the audience adapts and changes.
- Speed of product/solution refresh.
- Internal politics of why the strategy is being adopted in the first place, i.e., is this a sales drive for Christmas?
- Time sensitivities around the content piece, considering, for example, if it will it be out of date at some point.
Corporate buy in
Importantly, the senior team need to have bought in to the strategy. There's no point starting a campaign if other teams are not amplifying it through their own external interactions. That just looks disjointed and reduces the credibility of the campaign.
Businesses can sometimes work in silos that could be departmental or even geographical. It takes the senior team filtering requests down to their line reports or an email to all from the C-suite to ensure a consistent approach is adopted across the business.
Identifying what success looks like
Develop the KPIs the campaign should hit with the key stakeholders in the business. Report on these regularly throughout the life of the campaign so that all stakeholders continue to buy in. This is pertinent to campaigns run over a longer time frame. Establishing and agreeing KPIs at the outset of a content marketing campaign provides clarity and manages expectations.
Identifying the topics
It's important to plan the topic areas out carefully and with due consideration as they will tell the story of your campaign. Remember, this is not an advert so don’t treat it like a competition where you get points for the number of times a company or product name is mentioned.
You need to write about something that is a challenge, solution or trend. If it comes across as a product or company plug then you'll lose your audience. Think about what the audience will be interested in. Identify if there is anyone within the company who has a strong understanding of this area and utilise their expertise.
Consider going outside of the business to find out if the content is of interest to your audience. Don’t be afraid to engage your customers or a focus group.
Identify who you want to position as the contributor of the content and why. Ask yourself:
- Is it to open doors for a sales person?
- Is it to raise the profile of a senior executive?
- Are they media trained?
- Do they have the authority and authenticity to add credibility to the piece?
- Do they want to do it?
- Are they likely to remain at the company for long?
The next challenge is to get the content out there in a considered and structured way. Think about the media you’re using. Maybe audit the owned, earned and bought channels at your disposal to make sure you’re not missing any opportunities.
Consider how the content should be presented in those media. The way you prepare a post on Facebook may be very different to how you would communicate to your customer base through direct marketing or the way you would prepare a blog post.
Establish how you can measure the reach of the content. Is it trackable? Have you included a key message to monitor? Is there a link back to a webpage?
Consider the “iceberg”. What I mean here is to treat the content amplification part of the process as carefully as you did the other elements that led to this point.
So often, campaigns are just blurted out to the world as quickly as possible. It’s a waste of the time and resource investment already given to the campaign to treat this end part with scant regard.
Finally, forego those delusions of grandeur. Accept that there may be some elements of this process that you don’t do well as a business and seek external support if needed. A carefully selected expert agency could make the difference between a successful campaign and the rubbish bin.