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Creating a Holistic Content Strategy

Creating a Holistic Content Strategy

I have a confession: I truly believe in the underlying meaning of clichés: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. All that glitters isn’t gold. Read between the lines. But my favorite is that content is king. To me, the content and the strategy for leveraging it make or break a campaign in a heartbeat. You can have the best survey results in the world, but without a thought through and well-defined content strategy behind it, that survey will not help your business objectives.

For years, I have loved the challenge of determining how we can use the messages in a planned piece for email, visuals, paid placements, microsites, press releases, media interviews, roundtables and more. A good campaign is an integrated one where all of the pieces play off of each other. But how do you even start to plan such a campaign? In my experience, good content strategy that results in a truly integrated campaign follows the same process each time.

  • Establish a goal for the content – With any campaign, you need to know what you are trying to accomplish and how are you going to measure success. Are you trying to get new leads? Is your goal to gain share of voice in the media in a new vertical? Do you want potential investors to see how you are filling an industry gap so that they will consider being part of your next round of funding? Once you determine the marketing goals, you can determine what type of content to create.
  • Focus on addressing a concern for your target market – With a goal established, you should know better who you are targeting. Let’s assume that you are a revenue cycle management (RCM) vendor that has traditionally been in the hospital space but are now moving in physician practices – this is a fairly crowded market so you need to focus on cutting through the noise. To do that, you know that physicians want more information about time to collections and data on the increase in patient self-pay and how that is impacting their bottom line. This will be the central theme of your content.
  • Define the seminal piece of content that you will create – If we continue with the RCM idea above, you may create a survey about the impact patient self-pay has had on the bottom line for physician practices. Then you can create a report on the results that leverages visuals and analysis. It is critical to understand what the first piece of content you will create will be – you will need to focus on creating that so that other content can spin off it easily.
  • Let your imagination go wild with how you can use that content – Now that you know that you are creating a report based on survey results, take time to think through how it that will be further leveraged. In addition to the traditional press releases and byline articles about the results, some potential options include:
    • Media interviews with embargoed pre-pitching to key media so that you generate a buzz
    • Email campaigns to potential leads to show the data that you have collected
    • Sponsorships on industry websites – this could include “gating” a version of the content to get new leads (people interested in the content provide their name and contact information to qualify for access)
    • Paid digital ads that point back to your website for further leads – using Google ads, LinkedIn promotions and more, you can accurately target prospects who may be searching for your content
    • An interactive microsite that highlights the data that can drive retargeting efforts
  • Layout a timeline of when all the content can be created and disseminated – Once you confirm the exact content you will produce, it is time to create a development and dissemination timeline. At the launch of a campaign, you need to know exactly when content will launch – this would include the seminal piece and the initial promotional pieces such as a press release, social content, email blasts. You can then divide the paper into snackable visuals and create infographics, articles and sponsored content so that can continue to capture leads. The goal will be to continue to provide fresh insights or analysis of the data that will encourage people to download the paper and fodder for the digital team to use for paid marketing. But you must have a calendar of when each piece and each channel will be engaged to keep the campaign on track.
  • Measure, measure, measure – As you did in the beginning, you should have established how you will measure success. Whether that is new leads, greater share of voice or other metrics, you need to start measuring sooner than later so that you know what channels are or are not working. So set a standard process for reviewing metrics and making tweaks to the entire plan.

 

By following these steps, you will be well positioned for a strong integrated marketing campaign that leverages the value of your content and thought leadership.

Content Marketing in Eight Seconds or less

Content Marketing in Eight Seconds or Less

As you work on your content strategy, think about this: According to a recent study, the average person now loses concentration after only eight seconds. I would ask you to pause and think about that but then I’ll risk of losing the remaining seconds of your attention entirely – if I haven’t already. As a “fun fact,” researchers noted that even goldfish which are “notoriously ill-focused” have an average attention span of nine seconds.

So, whether that fact is fun or concerning is still be determined, but it really isn’t that shocking. This study simply quantifies the impact of a highly digitized lifestyle on the human brain. After all, we live in a world where our phones are constantly buzzing with emails, texts, news alerts, and social media notifications. We live in a world where…

Sorry, I got distracted for a moment. Did you know that Kim and Kanye are expecting their third child via surrogate? My phone just vibrated with that “breaking” news, as well as four work emails, three personal emails, and two trivial text messages. And even if celebrity gossip isn’t your guilty pleasure, you’re likely experiencing a similar scenario every hour of every day.

But to be clear, the aha moment from this study is not that goldfish are smarter than us. It’s an aha moment for us as marketing and public relations professionals. The study has profound implications for those of us who communicate for a living. To be successful, we must adapt our strategies and tactics to the reality of eight second attention spans.

Why evolving content doesn’t mean dumbing it down

In today’s world of digital and information overload, crafting content that is relevant and meaningful for your target audience is mission-critical. Remember that having shorter attention spans doesn’t mean that your customers are not decision-makers. It doesn’t mean that they’re less intelligent. It doesn’t mean that they don’t have the same pain points. It just means that they need to absorb information differently. It just means that despite downloading your white paper, they’re probably not getting past page one. There’s no shame. It’s the new normal.

That’s why evolving your content marketing is not about dumbing down the information. It’s not about simplifying or going back to basics. It’s about making your content snackable. In fact, your new bite-sized content can still convey the same concepts and ideas as the longer pieces—but that content must be more concise and free of fluff.

Even more importantly, it must provide just a taste to satisfy their brief hunger and keep their interest. It must leave the audience wanting more of your content snacks. That’s what marketing is all about.

How to create tasty content snacks – a recipe for success

Snackable content for the eight second attention span is just a new way of creating, organizing, and promoting content. To create tasty content snacks, you don’t need to start from scratch. You don’t need all new ingredients. Your content kitchen is likely full of big, heavy content meals which can be remixed and reused to fit the new snackable content mold. The good news is that one content meal equals several content snacks.

Now, let’s enter the content kitchen and see how to turn those content meals into content snacks. Here are three examples:

  1. Transform your white paper into an infographic and a cheat sheet with must-do’s.
  2. Transform your case study into a checklist of best practices, or a series of checklists that span everything from implementation to training and optimization.
  3. Transform your 30-minute webinar into a sequence of 30 second videos that highlight that key learning objectives.

And rather than being sad about the lost of art of white paper reading, keep in mind that multiple content snacks derived from the same content meal not only convey the same messages but also can easily become a lead nurturing campaign or useful follow-up references for your sales team to share with prospects.

I think it’s time to stop mourning the white paper. Instead, it’s time to cook up some bite-sized content. After all, it’s just waiting to be eaten.