November 4, 2021
Closing the Loop on Content Creation
We’ve been beating the drum that “Content is King” for over a decade now. As an agency that has focused on helping brands develop, engage, and empower a vibrant culture around their brands, we know that nothing pays the right kinds of dividends like a solid content creation plan. However, time and time again, we’ve seen many brands struggle to get the kind of content traction they deserve because they haven’t followed some fundamental truths to content development that are key to real brand engagement. So, we thought we’d share some advice with those out there that are trying to create content strategies that really return results.
You Can’t Spell Authority Without Author
We all know that one of the key goals of content marketing is helping a company or brand develop a leadership position within its target market segments. Thought-leadership may just be a word to many, but for brand strategists that are moving to the next level, it is a valuable resource that starts with real investment into both root words—thought and leadership.
It all starts with a thoughtful investigation into what knowledge your target audience values the most within your market focus. You need to carefully and thoughtfully craft a position that your brand is going to take on an area of the knowledge gap that you can begin to bridge. Your team, whether internally or in partnership with your content agency, should start with market research that evaluates the market segment and the kinds of confusion or pain points that are being communicated by the target audience you desire to influence. Once you know what your audience wants most to understand—and what expertise your brand has to offer—you can begin to map out a content strategy that is truly compelling.
Next comes the harder part, leadership. Any good leader will tell you that the most effective leaders don’t demand their audience to follow, but inspire others to a desired action through their genuine collaboration and/or providing a new perspective on an established problem. If your content is truly going to lead your audience to a behavioral change, it needs to be more than a regurgitation of well-worn platitudes or a basic representation of someone else’s insights. It requires that you find your own position and perspective, and then develop original content that resonates with your audience.
What’s Your Point?
Once you’ve spent some time building a unique brand content strategy as outlined above, your next goal is to validate your content plan against one of the oldest and most annoying tests of all… the “so what?” check. The worst thing you can do is spend a lot of time coming up with a unique and well-crafted content calendar that speaks to a question no one is really asking. The exception to this rule is if you’re asking a question that no one is asking YET. Some of the best thought-leadership content can provide leadership and solutions that the target audience hasn’t even considered yet. Either way, however, your first priority to making your content compelling for the brand is assuring that it provides information and perspectives that are genuinely valuable. It doesn’t really matter how clever or well-researched your content is if no one really cares about the issue.
Goal-setting should be a big part of your content strategy. You should be creating a behavior map of how you expect your original content to connect with, and influence, your target audience. What do you hope they will do after reading an article? Do you want them to buy something, share something, post something, or do something else? Content should always produce an action, or what’s the point? Unless you want to just invest in a lot of content and keep your fingers crossed that something happens, you’re going to want to spend some time creating a map for your creative and publicity teams to write to on your brand’s behalf.
Have a Voice
One of your goals in creating either short or long-form content should be to help define and demonstrate a personality for your brand. That means you start with a clearly defined human analog for your brand. Creative Energy has developed an efficient and effective set of exercises that we employ in our brand workshops that help us empower a brand’s executive team to discover the worldview and personality of their brand.
Once you have an empathetic understanding of your brand, and by association with your target audience, then you can start to craft content that is consistent and sincere in its voice. Your end goal should be to have your branded content to be recognized by a brand loyalist even if a logo or by-line is not easily recognizable. Is your brand snarky, serious, technical, emotional, or some other adjective? You should know this before the first article is published and you should always be writing from the same heart in order to develop a brand position that others will trust and embrace.
Throw Open All The Doors and Windows!
One of the big mistakes that many brands can make is not investing in the promotion of the content they’ve created. It takes a lot of time and resources to create great content. Why would you hamper its performance by just publishing it to your website and hoping the right people find it? That would be like a movie studio spending millions of dollars to produce an amazing movie and then not telling anyone it’s in theaters!
If you’re going to invest in creating great branded content, you should also have a multi-channel plan to promote it to your audience. The tools you use to promote your content depend greatly on who your brand value target audience is, but there are a few things that we’d recommend all content creators should consider.
The first tool you should consider is your own brand website. Do you have a structure built into the system that allows you to promote your content on the homepage of the site? Is your content easy to navigate to and clearly organized to help visitors find the articles they’re most interested in? Spend some time with your content and digital team to create a path for visitors to easily engage with your new branded content.
Next, we’d recommend you consider a well-executed email marketing campaign. While email marketing has become an old-school resource, it still has a lot of potential power in connecting your content with your most valuable audiences. You should have a plan to collect target audience contact information and then build out a well-designed email marketing campaign that regularly invites them to your articles. Email marketing also provides some insightful analytics that will help you refine and expand your content marketing strategy for brand growth as well.
Your social media marketing team should also be a big part of your content marketing efforts. Be sure you are communicating with your social media team about upcoming articles so they can build effective posts to inform your brand’s social media community about new content and drive them back to your site to read what you’ve written. Your social media posts should never simply regurgitate the information in your articles but should offer a glimpse into the issue or problem you’ve written about and then encourage viewers to go read your perspective on the solutions. Blatantly telling people to go read your article is not a great motivator. Most people on social media aren’t looking to be told to go read a long article. If you want them to engage, you’ve got to give them a bigger reason with your social media content. There are tons of other ways to drive traffic to your content—from public relations to paid advertising—but those tools require more one-on-one strategic planning between your marketing and advertising agency and your internal brand team. If you’re struggling with your brand content strategy, it may be time to start a conversation with a content marketing team that has proven their skill. Creative Energy has been creating industry-leading content strategies for national and international brands for nearly 30 years. If you’re ready to stake your brand claim to a profitable content position, then we’re ready to help. Contact us when you’re ready to grow, and we’ll help you close the deal with your loyal brand believers.