In the world of content strategy, we are strong advocates for a consumer focussed approach, in fact it’s pretty much the foundation of what we do.
Too many times I have looked at a brands content and found it to be self serving, congratulating themselves for work well done and creating public facing content that is of no interest to their external audience. There are reams and reams (screens and screens just doesn’t have the same ring to it) of merger, take over and promotion announcements, with very little content that adds value to the people actually buying their products or services.
This is often as a result of the brand not embracing a consumer focussed approach, which regularly comes hand in hand with a marketing team that has not been empowered, leading to the ill fated words, “the boss wanted it”.
In this environment it can be a tough challenge to justify an effective content strategy to the powers that be. Creating content that focusses on the needs of the consumers and adding value to their interactions with the brand, can be a big step away from a previous adhoc approach that focusses on sales and other more corporate aspects of the company.
I often come across brands that have started to embrace content marketing, but not content strategy, this scenario can lead to a well created landscape, but a landscape that is devoid of all meaningful content, that generally has an internal focus. This may seem like a great starting point for those frustrated creatives, get the infrastructure in place, get the decision makers behind the idea of spending money on content and go from there. The problem is, this approach can cause more damage than good! In essence you’ve internally sold the concept of content (maybe even content strategy), but what you are delivering is an extremely marginalized and ineffective copy of what could be achieved. There will come a time, often before you’ve been able to stretch your wings and create “the good stuff”, that the powers that be will want to hear how successful that content is and where their investment went. It is at this point, that you will have to tell them that only 5 people have read about their latest acquisition piece, potentially killing off all chances of a meaningful content strategy from being created.
Sometimes there is no getting away from the corporate content, if this is the case, then you need to serve it up in the correct way. Hopefully the corporate content is only part of what you are producing, but whatever the case, the way in which it is delivered can be as important as the content itself.
Without its own distinct home, corporate content can be a distraction and if really handled incorrectly, can water down your brand image and reputation. If everything is published in a news stream on your public facing website, then any well crafted content of interest to your consumers is at risk of getting lost. When this happens, it can alter the perception of your brand to corporate and stuffy, in spite of any hard work to the contrary.
Ideally content that has an internal focus, should be served up to an internal audience, via an intranet, newsletter, or corporate email. If it MUST be on the website, then it needs to be served up in a way that those with interest can consume until their hearts content, but that your wider audience can skip it, knowing “that’s not for me”. This will prevent your valuable content from being lost and allow your brand to portray the image that it desires and hopefully keep those that are paying your salary happy.
With the creation of any content, you should be able to define its audience and its worth, this will quickly help you identify what is filler and what has real substance. If handled correctly, this should also provide you the tools needed to question its creation, or at least start a conversation about what the brand is trying to achieve.
As more and more brands open their eyes to content strategy and a consumer focussed approach, here’s hoping we all get to create more value added content in.