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Content Strategy

You invest in events, send out emails, educate, and send invoices.  But how well do you really know your target audience?  

Beyond the basic demographics, perhaps not as well as you might think.  Do you capture the answers to these questions?

  1. If asked to describe your organization to a third party, do you know what they would say?
  2. If asked to describe your service quality, do you know how they would respond?
  3. Do they view you as strategic, or merely a ‘vendor’ that they must grudgingly pay? 
  4. Are they open to using more of your services, or do they see you only in the narrow context of your current interactions?
  5. Do they know how important referrals are to you?
  6. Connection frequency:  Do you know specifically how often they may wish to hear from you personally over the phone?  Or via email?  Or in person?
  7. Media format: Do they prefer to read what you write, listen to what you say, or watch you on video?
  8. Broadcast Frequency: Do they prefer a weekly newsletter, a monthly one, or perhaps none at all?
  9. Time:  Do they prefer long-form content (books or white papers), shorter articles, or perhaps just 140 character snippets?
  10. Do they want to receive information about your professional development events, industry news, or immediately-relevant action items (or all)?

Too often, we make assumptions about our target audiences: that everyone thinks the same, that they have identical needs, and that they can be served in the same way.  What else explains the ubiquity of the monthly newsletter?   (Does everyone really prefer to read about us monthly?)  Or what explains social media community management that quits at 5pm?  (Does every target user really stop using social media at 5pm? The opposite is true.) 

The truth is that each person or organization typically thinks of themselves as unique: they have a unique history, unique strategy, and unique culture.  

For those that you know well, answering these ten questions is not that hard.  But for newer relationships, it is almost impossible.  The only thing that you know is that (for example) some may be attracted to a daily tipsheet, a weekly newsletter, a monthly newsletter, a short YouTube clip, or one of the other many formats of communication.  And that if you don’t have what they need in the format or frequency they prefer, they will likely give you pass. 

This week’s action plan:  Just because you have always done something one particular way, doesn’t automatically mean that it suits your target audiences today.  Capture the answer to these questions in your database, and then use the data to plan how to deliver what they want. (Hint:  Marketing Automation and Content strategy is the only way to make this happen efficiently.)

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com
:  Professional credentials site
www.108ideaspace
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
www.ProfessionallySpeakingTV.com
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders

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Many marketers have recently “discovered” content marketing.  The theory is that if you put more content out there, prospects (clients, job candidates, members, etc) will find it, self-identify, and then beat a path to your doorstep.

The benefits of investing in content are legion: an easier education and sales process, better quality leads, better conversion rates, reduced cost of sales, and a group of engaged ambassadors who willingly spread your good word throughout their networks.  So with so many benefits, an organization would have to be foolish not to invest in content, and invest in it significantly.  So they do.

Unfortunately, many of these benefits are never delivered – and the reason is clear:  Content in and of itself has zero value.  Content only has value as a tool to help the target user achieve a goal or solve a problem.  To build a viable content marketing program requires three elements:  Relevance, Relationships, and Results.

  1. Relevance to the audience:  The right content must be available for the right audience in the right format at the right time.  If the audience feels the content is irrelevant, it will see the organization as… irrelevant.  If the quality is poor, it will see the organization as poor.  And so on.  A common mistake: content is created that is important to the sponsoring organization – and not the audience: this is a sure-fire interest-killer.
  2. Relationships:  The underlying goal of any content marketing program is to build a relationship with the target user.  The relationship moves from awareness, to preference, to trial, and ultimately commitment. For this reason, the goal of each content piece (howsoever delivered), must also be aligned to these four relationship curve stages.  This blog post, for example, achieves the goal of awareness (in case you discovered this from an email link or Google search) as well as preference (since reading many posts builds affinity and trust.)
  3. Results:  If the goal is to deliver results by improving relationships, how do you know when you are successful?  Or if you are producing the right content?  Measuring engagement and conversion allows for easy mid-course corrections, and a more aligned content strategy.

In a certain sense, content marketing is like a magnet.  When done well it serves to attract, but when done poorly – by not following these three R’s – content yields the exact opposite effect.  It diminishes the brand.

So is content dead?  Dead content is dead, but relevant content that builds relationships and delivers results is alive and well.

This week’s action plan:  Look back at all of the content that you have produced over the last year, whether it be newsletters, blog posts, whitepapers, or video, and evaluate it against these criteria:  How did each piece grade for relevance?  For building relationship.  And most importantly, for results.

Marketing Insight:  As more and more organizations flood the market with their content, the value of content will be driven lower and lower.  Quality content, on the other hand, can differentiate your organization, achieve higher Google rankings, and increased social shares.  Implication: if you are building content today, it is competing for attention with the better quality content of tomorrow. Build it right the first time and it will have a stronger, and longer, long tail.

Marketing Insight #2:  Relevance, Relationships, and Results are just as applicable to email marketing.  And to all marketing.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com

www.108ideaspace
.com
www.ProfessionallySpeakingTV.com

 

 

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Growing Your List (Part 2)

by Randall Craig February 19, 2016

In the first part of this post, we consider the importance of growing all channels – not just email.  In this post, we look specifically at growing your email list – 11 different ways of doing so: Plug the leaks:  Sometimes a list is growing just fine, but the growth is negated by people who leave.  While some of the […]

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Testimonials and References

by Randall Craig July 24, 2015

When you make a purchase decision, what is the one thing, more than anything else, that gives you confidence that the other party can (and will) do what they promise? Yes, statements of work, contracts, and case studies all play a role.  But what about references and testimonials? References are those conversations that happen just prior to […]

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Viewpoint: “Branded” Content Builds Brands?

by Randall Craig April 2, 2015

Back in the early days of journalism, there was a clear distinction between the “news” and paid advertisements. It was considered of the highest ethical imperative that journalists could not be “bought” or even influenced – by an advertiser looking to make a large ad purchase, or a threat to pull their dollars. If a […]

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Consuming Content and Scanning Video

by Randall Craig January 9, 2015

How fast can you “consume” content? Or better yet, how quickly can you scan it?  Likely pretty quickly, if you are reading. Since most people consume by scanning – not reading – experienced bloggers (and website writers) understand the need to chunk content into smaller bits: Headings and subheadings Short paragraphs Bullets and lists Judicial […]

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Four Tests for Auditioning your Posts

by Randall Craig September 19, 2014

Have you ever considered whether you should comment on a post that mentions you or your organization? As a leader, have you ever been concerned that someone in your organization might choose to respond inappropriately? If so, consider these four tests that a post needs to pass: Is the post legal? Many organizations operate under […]

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