There is a lot of writing about content marketing out there. There really seem to be two broad ranges of articles. The first of these is the nuts-and-bolts type of article. Here you learn how to actually content market. They’ll tell you about how to write content for your blog, how to get your message out there, how to attract new customers through your business blog and so on. The second strategy has zoomed a step outwards. It’s all about tactics. This is more in the line of who are you targeting and how you go about targeting them effectively.
The thing is, there is actually a third kind or article that’s necessary, and that’s the one that explains strategy. Basically, if you describe the first type of article as the ‘how’ article and the second type of article as the ‘who’ article, then the third type of article is best labeled the ‘why’ article.
Why Care about the Why?
What is the purpose of having this overarching strategy, you might well ask. It’s a good question. The short answer is “because it gives you purpose.” Of course, that begs all sorts of questions on its own, so we’ll expand on that a bit further.
Purpose creates cohesion. The first important thing to realize is that when all of your content is focused towards one goal, it creates a cohesive overarching conceptual level to your work. This means that even though you might post quite varied content, as it’s all aimed towards the same thing, your audience will still feel it hangs together well.
Purpose allows you to know what fits and what doesn’t. When you’re trying to decide if a post actually fits with what you’re trying to do with your brand, having an overarching strategy can be immensely useful. This is particularly true if you’ve really gone to task with summarizing what you’re trying to do. It then becomes a simple matter of saying “does post X fit with our overall strategy.” If it does, you continue. If it doesn’t, you drop it.
Purpose gives you direction. When a company doesn’t know what its overarching strategy is, it goes back to what it does know. And that is self-promotion. The thing is, self-promotion is not how you start off your content marketing, as you haven’t yet earned your reader’s trust. This is putting the cart before the horse. First, you have to build your content marketing and your followership. Then you use that to boost your brand.
Purpose lets you tell a story. Good content marketing tells a story. There are many to tell. It can be, “We’re hip and cool, and you will be too by associating with us.” It can be, “We’re passionate and knowledgeable, and we’re the best company out there.” Or it can be something else. That’s up to you. To tell that story, however, you need to first know what it is. And that’s where delving into your strategy comes in.
So How Do You Create a Purpose?
First, there’s what you don’t do, and that’s just leave it up to your marketing team. You see, if you want to have a successful content marketing purpose, it has to stretch beyond content marketing. You have to make sure that it’s something that goes from management to product design to the sales team and, yes, to the marketing team. It has to be a part of the whole company.
The best way to create a purpose is to decide upon it as a group that represents the different facets of the company. In this way, you’ll get input from numerous different corners and the purpose that you decide upon is more likely to actually fit into the core of your company rather than being window dressing hung up by the marketing team.
You need a mission statement. Deciding on an overarching purpose is only the first step, however. After that, it’s important that it gets written up in a clear and concise manner so that anybody who is asked to create content will have a clear understanding of what they’re trying to do.
To make sure that your mission statement is actually clear, once you’ve written it up, make sure that you run it by several people who were not directly involved in the process and allow them to explain what you’ve written. Don’t help them figure out what the statement says, as that will skew the results. Just listen to them. If they all seem to be relatively close together, then your statement is coherent. If they disagree, then, obviously, it is nothing of the kind.
Keep the different people involved. OK, this is a bit more tactics than strategy, but it’s too important to ignore. If you do manage to get a lot of people to sit around the table to talk about the overall design of the content marketing purpose, don’t let them drift away after that.
Instead, get them involved in writing up content (of course, make sure you edit the text to avoid common business-writing mistakes). After all, they actually know what’s going on in the company, and they no doubt have stories to tell. In this way, they’ll be in a far better position that some outside hired a writer to catch true elements and insights of your business.
Another important aspect is to let people write in their own names. In this way, if they produce an outstanding piece of content, not just your brand benefits. They benefit as well. What’s more, they can become thought leaders in their own part of the market. This will make it far more likely that they’ll put in that extra bit of effort to make sure that what they give you is great.
Content marketing isn’t like other marketing campaigns. It is far more involved, particularly because your content stays out there and is easily found by anybody that is interested (after all, it will all be readily available through your website). That means that it has to flow seamlessly from one piece to the next. In that way, you create the impression that you’ve got a cohesive strategy that your readers can understand and appreciate.
It differs on a second dimension as well, and that is that it isn’t a one-way street. Most marketing is informed by other aspects of the company but rarely informs other aspects of the company. This is not the case with content marketing. It can go both ways. The purpose can actually leak into the company and set people to thinking and creating in line with that purpose. (Note that this is something that will be further accelerated the more intimately other team members are involved with content marketing).
Ultimately, that’s a good thing, as it means that everything comes to feel like it’s part of a unified whole. In this way, your customers will be able to recognize what belongs to your company and what does not long before they see your logo.
Janet Anthony is a blogger from Kansas City and content writer at paper writing services who has been writing professionally for five years now. Her motto is “What you do today can improve all your tomorrows”.