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3rd August 2018 – by Julian Wakefield

Why do I even need a content strategy?

Consumers are becoming less receptive to ads, they tune out as soon as they feel like they are being sold to. Brands must change the way they market themselves to their audience, creating content that is sought rather than seen. Instead of interrupting a user’s experience of media consumption, branded content must become the experience, and brands must act like media hubs with structured content strategies.

Brands embracing holistic strategies that are reverse engineered from consumer behaviour are far more successful than those who see content just as an opportunity to pitch a sale.

 

Where do I start?

There is a little housekeeping you’ll want to get done before setting out to devise your content strategy.

  • Establish your brand image and tone of voice. Are you more exclusive? Casual? Playful? Keep your brand values in mind.
  • Think about your audience. Who are they? What do they care about? What do they want?
  • What is your competition doing? What works for them? What fresh perspective can you offer?
  • What are your goals? What is your message? How would you measure success (awareness, sales, engagement…)?

The answers to these questions will inform the structure and direction your content strategy should take.

How does this translate to a content strategy?

Here’s where it gets tricky. There are many variables and establishing the right strategy depends largely on your brand and your goals. But as rough template, I recommend an approach based on Google’s Help Hub Hero framework to which you add ‘structure’ content.

Structure

Structure content is the backbone of your web presence. It’s your profile picture, your cover artwork, your introduction video… It introduces your brand, values, and services. It’s the first impression your audience gets when they visit your website or social media profiles. As such, it’s important to get right.

Hero

Hero content is for the big moments. They are shorter intense bursts of activity pushed out around key moments in your marketing calendar. They have a higher production value and get you noticed by a wide audience. However, engagement with this content is limited in time and drops off after the initial peak.

Hero content drives awareness.

Hub

Hub content compels people to return (a.k.a. subscribe/follow) by developing an expectation and creating comfort and familiarity. It is regular and consistent. It should aim to be informative and/or entertaining. This will speak to your regular audience and keep your brand in their mind for when they are ready to consider a purchase.

Hub content drives conversion.

Help

Help content is the content that answers frequent questions and therefore stays relevant throughout the marketing cycle. These include how-to or instructional content. The sales pitch is kept to a minimum but positions your brand as a reputable source of expertise. They meet your core audience’s needs and generate loyalty. As a bonus, this content is discoverable to those searching for similar queries that your content answers.

Help content drives engagement.

Give and you shall receive

Once you have your Structure content in place, Hero content is the obvious one to most people. It’s the closest thing to a traditional TV ad, and seems like a safe opportunity for a sales pitch. Hub and Help content are often overlooked, and I get why. The ROI is not as obvious, it’s hard to sustain, you’re not showing off your product or service as explicitly as you feel you should… It’s a risk!

But is it really? Times have moved on from when a brand could afford to just flaunt the (easily replicable) manifest functions of a product and get away with a sale. By leveraging a good content strategy, you can create engagement and enthusiasm, stand out as a go-to brand, and even kindle purchasing intent. Give your audience what they want before expecting them to give back to you.

An old acquaintance just got in touch with me for the first time in five years, asking me to like and share a piece of content they are trying to ‘make viral’. Do you think I am more likely oblige now, or if we had kept in touch, given each other regular updates, and maintained the friendship over the years?

The same applies to your content strategy. Create and maintain a relationship with Hub and Help content, then go in for the sale with your Hero content.