Integrated Content Strategy – it is like teenage sex, where everyone is talking about it, but no one is doing it.
We have been employed to help several clients build truly integrated content strategies. Here are some of our Content Marketing Strategy observations and top tips.
What is content for you?
Before you do ANYTHING, make sure you have a formal written definition of what content means for your marketing organisation. It can be one of those empty buzzwords that mean everything or nothing. Is it all pictures, words, videos, games and programs (including advertising, digital, social and PR) or just some social videos?
A lot of folk rush to hire people, agencies, without working out what content is, and how it fits with other departments, disciplines and agencies.
What is the business problem you are trying to solve?
As with digital, social and mobile before it, somehow people who run around muttering “content” seem to have a tendency to forget that it is a tool to solve a business issues, not a panacea for all known problems. Defining the business issue, and creating metrics around the issue that content marketing is designed to solve, is the way forward.
We use content (like this blog) to help keep us top of mind, and drive natural SEO, also to give us an arsenal of relevant content to send to respective clients. We track our progress accordingly (traffic, engagement, key search term rankings). What is your goal? What are your measures?
The “what” AND the “how”.
Many clients rush, encouraged by their content creating agencies, to decide what content they want to make. They call this their Content Strategy. However, they rarely consider the “How”?
How I am going to organise structures, processes and finances at the client side? How can get I faster approval process? How can I make the content I need a price point that renders it cost effective? How do I get PR, Social, Digital and Advertising/media departments and agencies to integrate around the content? How am I going to track and monitor Content Marketing Success? How can I benchmark creative quality? How will the Content be stored, managed and distributed, with what technologies?
At Flock we bring together that How and What into one cohesive strategy to make sure that sure that Content Marketing Strategies are sustainable, agile, accountable and above all effective.
What content does your customer need? Want? Will share? Where else can they get it? What makes your content different and better than everyone else’s?
These simple questions will ensure that you develop a content strategy that has a chance of cutting through the dross.
A key element of any Content Strategy is the development of an integrated Content Calendar; a list of all content elements required by a brand or business, for each marketing channel. For a large organisation creating this list can be a big task. We created the Flock Content Calendar Creator to build Content Calendars for our clients and link in all costs, all predicted responses etc.
Many clients do not spend enough time doing detailed planning especially in estimating the performance of each and every piece of content.
Created, Curated, User Generated
Spending time understanding what sources of content are available to you, to fulfil your customers’ requirements is critically important. So many clients and agencies rush to produce new material when there is so, so much great content in existence looking for a home!
To inform a strategy it is a great idea to use curated content, to set up the systems, and to learn, before spending funds on new and original content. This will help inform the nature of the content that is working best, the likely responses and returns etc.
It is likely, despite what we have said in the previous point, that you will need to create unique and differentiated content as part of your integrated content marketing strategy.
As part of the “how” clients really need to carefully consider their content production requirements and facilities. To make the volume of content required by many strategies will require a new system of production, a new Content Factory. Many agencies are using legacy production processes, systems and technologies created for advertising production.
Will you decouple production from agencies? Will you bring production in-house? How will the production process be simplified? Will you use idea archetypes, templates, formats, and pre-produced animated or CGI sequences for long term efficiency?
As we have mentioned, getting the proper metrics around the business issue is very important before a programme begins. There are SO many potential measures, it is vital to pick as few as possible, that are as relevant to the business issue as possible.
‘Sales’ is a good place to start, but it is amazing how many content strategies are not measured for their contribution to sales. Look at the attribution effects online, look at the conversions for website visitors who have viewed content, versus those that have not. You may be surprised at how well content works to drive sales directly, rather than just as a source of web-traffic, or low cost awareness.
It is our belief that most organisations have many of the skills, capabilities, and an over-abundance of agency resources, to develop a good content strategy.
However, they must be brought together seamlessly, fully integrated, to both develop the strategy, but also execute it. To do this you may need to revisit processes, contracts, appraisals, remuneration etc. This is not the “sexy” side of developing an Integrated Content Strategy, but it IS very important to the success of any strategy.
Who is going to do this work? It is hard for the agencies to be independent and neutral in this regard, and this is where a number of our assignments have started.
So, there you go. A few top tips and observations to help you develop an Integrated Content Marketing strategy, but for more specialised and detailed information do not hesitate to call us or fill in the form below.