Figuring out how to do enterprise content well is no small undertaking. Often, there’s a lot of experimentation and one-off initiatives that don’t reach their intended audiences and are not conclusively worth the effort and investment.
In 2016, Altimeter analyst Omar Akhtar and digital partner Mat Zucker published the report, “Key Elements of a Unified Content Strategy.” The research aimed to help companies jump-start their content strategy development. Findings recommend prioritizing audiences and selecting one of five content archetypes that can serve them best.
5 Simple Steps to an Effective Content Strategy
Since then, we’ve built on the methodologies based on various needs of clients across industries. We’ve developed a framework and 5 simple steps to help companies tackle the hairiest content challenges and create a modern, effective content strategy.
1. Get Your Brand On
Content is a powerful way to activate a brand strategy. It can help build awareness, engage audiences, and highlight how various brand levers are being received. We recommend anchoring on the brand’s purpose, promise and principles to connect diverse content needs back to the business. Your company story or mission could act as a proxy.
Establishing 3-5 key messaging themes is important to your strategic communications. A messaging strategy ensures teams are collectively covering key messages and clarifies ownership of messaging areas. They help marketers understand which of their messages resonate with audiences. Messaging themes may be tailored for execution, may change by year, but are foundational for content.
2. Commit to Business Value
A vision for content—what you need content to do inside and outside the company—helps build cohesion enterprise-wide. One of my favorites is Marriott’s “tell a story” that sparks excitement and passion to make Marriott the world’s favorite travel company. It anchors content on the brand’s mission to lead within the travel category while celebrating their audiences. For some clients, we also build content principles that create guardrails for how best to execute this vision.
3. Tailor to Audience
We usually tackle 3-5 audiences at a time, building discrete content personas; identifying what each audience needs and wants as well as where and how they engage with content. For example, a corporate audience like job seekers would have very different needs from a line of business’s consumer audience. Picking a priority archetype like “Content as a Window” for job seekers, or “Content as Support” for consumers, helps teams make choices around what content to create, and keeps audience needs top of mind.
4. Get Organized
Content planning is a detail-oriented and coordinated effort. Often, various departments oversee paid, owned and earned activities, or manage disparate channels (e.g. web, social media, intranet, etc.). When teams align their efforts into shared content programs, their content is more likely to be encountered by their desired audiences and deliver value.
A content program is essentially a broad theme that meets a specific user-based need. They logically connect back to global messaging themes. A meaty program can inspire dozens of topics and experiences across paid, unpaid and earned; executing two or three programs at once can help meet multiple objectives.
Programs help guide holistic content experiences that drive the next best action. They tend to be more efficient to produce and can be linked to business impact versus a series of one-off content pieces which are less meaningful in the long run.
In early 2018, TurboTax launched “There’s Nothing to Be Afraid Of”—an integrated marketing campaign focused on Latino empowerment. TurboTax wanted to reach Hispanic audiences and help them learn more about filing their own taxes. Besides running paid ads, the effort was supported by numerous content efforts. For example, they collaborated with influential Hispanic lifestyle bloggers and experts to create authentic educational content. They also erected a Hispanic community forum on their website and prepared relevant responses to topics that came up within the community. They developed the “#taxconfessions” sweepstakes encouraging the creation of user-generated YouTube content. And, of course, much of the content was in Spanish.
As with the TurboTax example, a holistic program is comprised of several components. Topics are specific content assets that cover various aspects of a program. They could be campaign-based (e.g., time-sensitive) or evergreen. The formats that are selected will often align with the content archetype that is chosen. If your audience needs “Content as Window”, you may choose case studies or video. “Content as Support” may include more selection guidance and post-purchase onboarding materials.
5. Ready, Test, Go
Coming out of content planning, teams are armed with fleshed-out programs and a set of prioritized activities that usually fall into one of two buckets:
- Good test and learn opportunities (i.e., what can we execute and measure today)
- Worthwhile investment opportunities (i.e., >6 months)
According to a recent Content Marketing Institute report, about 90% of B2B marketers in North America were committed to content marketing, yet only 37% had documented it.
It’s time for all marketers to create cohesion across the enterprise and take an audience-led approach to content marketing. If your content efforts have not been paying off, it’s probably time to get hyper-focused on a few key audiences that are critical to your success and begin understanding how you can use content to deliver value to them—in a highly focused and coordinated way—throughout their journey.
Learn how Prophet is strategically helping evolved enterprises across the globe create better content strategies that provide value to their audiences, align their organization and produce measurable outcomes for growth.
Gain insight into what goes into a content strategy and how it can take your business to the next level.
*Content Marketing Institute, B2B Content Marketing, 2018 Budgets, Benchmarks and Trends – North America.