So, advertisers of the world, how do we make content that is worth consumers’ time?

Make it valuable to them is the obvious answer.

For starters, the approach to content strategy should be like all other advertising – get to the consumer in their time of need with something that adds value to their situation, at specific points in their purchase journey. Ah, the elusive purchase journey. Figuring out where the points are that need to be addressed in the customers’ purchase journey takes research – know your funnel, know your customer, create impactful content. But before you can do that, you need to set the stage.  

Now we get to talk about the most unrepresented aspect of content marketing – context. If content is what you say, then context
is the best time and place to start and have the conversation
. Nailing down your content strategy is mostly about context. To find the best time and place to deliver your content, you’ll first need to define the basics of content strategy.

Start with your strategy’s mission statement. Identify your core audience, what you’ll deliver to them, and what they will get out of it. Print it off and slap it on a wall where everyone can see it to forever ensure you’re adhering to your mission statement. Next create the persona(s) of your core audience. You’ve got to know the demographic and personality of the people you’re trying to reach if you’re ever going to produce content tailored to their needs.

Once you know who you’re talking to and why you’re talking to them, decide what kinds of content you’re going to give them. Could be articles, videos, infographics, design pieces, handwritten love letters, pictures of donuts – whatever will best speak to them as they embark on their purchase journey. Equally, if not more important here is where/how you’re going to reach them. Blogs, social media, community forums, email, your own website, etc. Where you’re putting out content will largely depend, AGAIN, on their persona and what their purchase journey looks like.

You’ve got all that down. Your strategy is looking good; your context is almost set. Now you need to define – very clearly – the metrics you’ll use to measure your content’s success and failures. Social media likes and shares, comment or review engagement, CTRs on emails, unique visits on sites (sometimes) and many other metrics commonly fall under your KPIs (key performance indicators).

If it isn’t crystal clear why you need all of this – establishing this kind of context before making the “ask” is a must. What’s the ask? The ask is whatever you’re trying to get the consumer to do. It’s usually something like subscribing to a newsletter, sharing content with others on social channels, or straight purchasing a product/service. The ask could also be more intangible like probing consumers to click the like button, comment on the page, or spread the content via word of mouth. The trick to a successful ask is sort of an equation:

Successful Ask = subtlety + genuine commitment to helping customer

It’s usually never a great idea to flat-out ask the consumer of your content to share or directly make a purchase. See, content is a form of creative no matter how you split it. Creative things are best admired, bought and sold without a ton of commercial undertones. Which brings us to the matter of intent.

Content can’t be completely self-serving if it is to be successful. Don’t sell in every content piece you post, and certainly don’t create content just to sell. You have to walk the walk and talk the talk. You’ve got to be committed to actually helping consumers. The main reason is because it’s not authentic and your audience will probably notice.

More importantly, people aren’t interested in your story – they’re interested in their own story. Your job is to post content that:

  1. Helps them tell their story
  2. Adds value to their story
  3. Makes them identify your brand with their story

If you accomplish any of these, you’ve succeeded in creating impactful content. Cheers.