Crucial questions to arrive at a good content marketing strategy
Content is not something that just comes to you overnight. It is not questions like “what will we put on our Facebook page?” or “What should our website look like tomorrow?” that determine whether you are good at content marketing or not. It goes much further than that. Here’s some key questions to help set a good content marketing strategy.
The ‘what’ questions
• What answers are existing and potential customers looking for??
• How do they search for those answers?
• How does content help them with that?
• How does our content figure in that?
• Where do our customers and prospects search for/find this content?
• What type of content would help them the most?
• For what type of content would they be willing to pay?
• Which search terms do they enter online?
When analysing current content consumption, remember to ask yourself: which aspects will be key tomorrow? What trends are imminent and how can you link them to your content? What should you focus on in your own value proposition?
The answers to the what-questions can be used to determine your ‘content sweet spot’. This is the overlap between the defined problem areas or aspirations of your (potential) customers and the unique and specific expertise that your company and brand can offer or the value proposition you have. Defining it and making the right choice of this sweet spot will ensure that your content marketing remains focussed. Instead of churning out any old content, your pertinent content that will ‘make the difference’.
Ideally, of course, you would choose a sweet spot that has been overlooked by competitors or where you think you could do it better and more relevantly than the competition. Even though some rival brands may not be hurting you right now, the content they distribute may well impact the plans you have.
A well-chosen sweet spot y fits neatly within the DNA of your brand and/or organisation. Poorly chosen sweet spots feel uncomfortable and unnatural. For instance if, as a bank, you start sending out…. recipes to customers. Or if an energy supplier starts mentioning… holiday destinations. Customers and prospects instantly feel that something is not right. Now that more companies and organisations are discovering the power of content, your target group has more and more content available. The only way to survive in this ‘tsunami of content’ is to create content that is so good, so relevant that your reader will be willing to pay for it. In other words, premium content. Smart sweet spot choices put you on track to creating this type of content.
Smart sweet spot choices are the basis for premium content
Start with ‘why’
A widely-used model in content marketing is the ‘Golden Circle’ of author Simon Sinek. Sinek studied the motivations of buying behaviour. His findings show that consumers are almost always guided by emotions, that they will only rationalise afterwards. Too many brands are too self-assured and communicate very rationally about their USPs (Unique Selling Points). The problem with these features is that they are seldom so unique or special as first presented. There is no stimulus for a prospect to listen to the brand’s story or to consider the brand at all for that matter.
In the Golden Circle you always start your communication from the ‘why’. Why you, as a brand, do what you do and what that means to your target audience. In other words: why do you exist? Apple is a classic example. Apple did not sell computers, but a philosophy: ‘Think different’. If you are a person attracted by that ‘why’, then you will listen to what Apple has to say. How they do that – the ‘how’ – is by constantly pushing boundaries and, finally, by what they sell – the ‘what’ – is a result of the why and what: computers, telephone, watches, etc.
• Who provides the strongest content in our organisation?
• Who can be considered an ‘expert’ within our organisation?
• What content is there already in our organisation?
When you have answered the what-questions and found a content sweet spot, it is time for the organisational questions. These do not relate to your brand and how you market it (that was considered in the why questions), but at an operational level. What is in the organisation and what do you still need?
Finally, it is the target questions’ turn. It is vitally important to consider your targets carefully. What do you want to achieve with your content marketing efforts? Content for content’s sake is a waste of time and money. Your content must at least contribute to one marketing and/or business target. Content marketing has a great advantage because a combination of targets is possible. But no matter how tempting it is to prioritize a set of targets, it doesn’t end there. You must also be able to measure those targets and have a method ready for measuring them.
• Increase brand awareness
• Top of mind-position
• Better informed customers…
Remember that you cannot want everything. You can achieve each of the targets above with content marketing, but it will be very difficult to tick them all off simultaneously. For example, choose two or three and regularly check whether these are still the top priority. Compare your old or current way of working with content to the approach outlined above. It should be understood that: ‘Shouldn’t we do something on Facebook?’ or: ‘Shouldn’t we update our website content?’, are not the key questions that lead to success.
Testing to reality
When answering the target questions and the precise definition of your (combination of) marketing and communication targets, the questions quickly arise about how you will measure all this? How do you determine the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) on which basis you can measure whether you are well on the way to hitting your target? How to use KPIs to steer the right course?
A good and well-documented content marketing strategy also includes ways to measure effectiveness. For instance, include a customized ‘Return on Content Investment-ratio’ which summarises what you want to achieve and how you will measure it. However, remember (and also communicate this internally) that an investment in good content is an investment in something tangible. It is valuable and reusable. Consider your own content as an achievement and not merely as a cost.