Five Quotes to Guide Your Content Strategy
Branding is an essential part of building a modern business. For every business to develop that brand, it must tell a story of sorts.
Content is one way to tell those stories effectively, but you need a plan – a strategy – in place to make sure.
Brand stories can be dynamic, mundane, or even involve meerkats, but they are stories nonetheless. Content strategy is about harnessing material to tell your story, building trust, familiarity and sales.
As Julius Caesar once remarked, “To win by strategy is no less the role of a general than to win by arms.” To follow his comment, one strategy could be to win by arms – to dominate media. Travel company Trivago did this, apparently using every ad hoarding in Britain some time ago to tell their story. This is an expensive strategy.
Using content can achieve the same more efficiently and effectively, or as Caesar would have it, winning through strategy.
But don’t take it from us. Below are five more quotes to illustrate some of the major considerations of any effective content strategy.
- Know your market.
“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” — Decca Records rejecting the Beatles in 1962
Decca records had their way of doing things, and it worked for them.
But here they had the wrong information.
And bad information leads to bad decisions.
A viable content strategy relies on intelligence, whether that’s reliable data, interviews or insights on the ground to guide what you plan to do.
So in 1962, was guitar music on the way out?
Well no – far from it.
Where did Decca get its information from? Probably it was the opinion of someone important at the record label – opinion rather than objective information.
But Decca eventually got the message and signed another band with guitars – the Rolling Stones. They revised their opinion based on evidence.
Content strategy needs good information to work – know your client, the market, the competitors and what they are doing in their marketing.
- Don’t fall down on execution.
“The result of bad communication is a disconnection between strategy and execution.” —Chuck Martin, former Vice President IBM
An excellent appraisal, but what does this really mean?
A good strategy, based on excellent information, is all well and good but putting that strategy into action – developing content and making it work for your audience – is quite another.
For your content strategy to work you need… content. The plan has to live in order to work.
Use people who know what they are doing – creative people who have a view on how to execute creative content so it achieves what you want it to achieve.
And use the right media.
If, for whatever reason, your audience reads newspapers far more than the internet as a resource for information, then a digital campaign will stretch your campaign to breaking point, regardless of how well it is executed.
- Keep things simple
“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.” — Albert Einstein
Imagine your strategy is in place – a dynamic and elegant solution to your client’s problems. On paper, it’s great. The content also looks great. So go away and put your feet up – job done.
We live in a complex world, and a modern campaign passes through various departments and experts before it becomes a living campaign.
At each and every stage there will be something to consider that complicates your simple plan. Media, ad formats, data, legal considerations, budget and on and on.
Don’t let this complexity ride roughshod over your campaign. Hide the complexity in the background away from the audience you are trying to reach. Make sure that your messaging – what you want your audience to do, and what you want to achieve, remain simple and clear.
Make sure your content sticks to the plans you have made and isn’t diverted into something else.
- Have a contingency. Just in case.
“Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.” – Mike Tyson
Whatever your big plan was for this year, the chances are that unless it was to stay at home much more, that plan is in tatters.
But that’s OK – life doesn’t stop, it evolves.
Keep your eye on what you are trying to achieve but have a contingency in place in case the unexpected or the unpredictable happens.
This might mean pulling a campaign or adapting it quickly in the face of new situations or new information.
While this all seems like a headache, it may result in something interesting because the more constraints that are put in your way, the more likely you are to find an interesting route through.
Keep an eye on what’s happening around you.
5. Don’t make too many assumptions. Don’t be complacent.
“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” — Sir Winston Churchill
A content strategy doesn’t end with the end of your campaign.
You will learn from it – there will be pieces of content you would have bet your house would have been dynamite that tank.
And the reverse – pieces of content you had doubts about emerge as the stars.
Find out why.
Why did this work? Why did that not?
The answers will be there somewhere, and you need to know them because by the time you move onto your next strategy meeting, you need that information at your fingertips.
So now you have the tools to develop a perfect content strategy and turn that into a wonderful campaign for your clients. You just need that winning combination of good intel on your market, standout execution, oversight, a contingency, and the ability to learn. Meerkats, and in fact all small mammals, are optional.