‘The Fundamentals of Content Strategy’ Presentation Recap

tl;dr

The presenter  at the Feb 25th Portland WordPress Users Meetup, Jim Woolfrey (@informative) demonstrated ‘The Fundamentals of Content Strategy.’ He covered content strategy from a seller, marketer and agency perspective. During the presentation we saw an actual content strategy brief and the process Jim uses to build a strategy plan.

The Fundamentals of Content Strategy

Jim introduced himself and his presentation. Ultimately he will answer why digital content, good content, is more important than ever.

What is content?

  • Info that delivers meaning, communicated via audio, picture, image, etc.
  • Anything that we use to communicate with each other. Here’s a big list that we won’t read to you

What is strategy?

  • Plan to reach a specific goal. Roots in military & politics. Also applies to business & organizational goals.

Content Strategy

A repeatable process for planning, creation, distribution and government of informational content–written or in other media–throughout the entire content life-cycle.

  • For planning, creation, & re-use of content: What content. How to produce. By whom. When & why
  • See Kristina Halvarson’s book, Content Strategy for the Web

Why? … due to how consumers & buyers are changing. They’re educating themselves & want to keep it that way – old way of doing sales is with dinosaurs. People avoid contact until late in the sales-cycle, once they know what they want.

Content Marketing

  • It’s now about using content to inform and educate people. Engage them & provide good info so they can become informed about our product.

Content Across the Lifecycle

Lifecycle Stages:

  1. Awareness
  2. Exploration
  3. Decision-Making
  4. Post-Decision

Awareness:

Think about customer’s view of who you are.
The people we’re targeting may not be aware of who you are or that they even have a need for your product/service. Content can help to let them what to solve.
Content also helps to push them to explore

Exploration:

Help steer consumers to more information about what you solve, how you help

Decision-Making:

More exploration leads to more of your information in decision process
Content should provide value

Post-Decision:

Maintain engagement

Biggest Challenges in Content Marketing

(or any content production, especially recurring basis)

  • Create breakthrough content
  • Provide value
  • Compelling content is a necessity
  • Balance business objectives & buyer needs
  • Success is rooted in developing a repeatable process to keep content going

Why Content Marketing Fails

  • Lack of goals
  • Lack of planning
  • Poor messaging
  • Bad quality, lack of talent, etc

Why a Strategic Approach?

  • Align organization with audience needs
  • Enables organization to better deliver to needs of different roles

The Fundamentals

  • Identify
  • Create
  • Distribute (Publish)
  • Govern (and maintenance) – Governance is about the macro process of repeating production & the stuff including maintenance

Establish Goals & Objectives

  • Go back to what is at the core of the organization … what are we doing, selling, etc
  • Identify & prioritize the target audience – map it to a buying life cycle

Research the target, make sure they’re aware of the need or figure out how to create awareness. Then, prioritize & map those

Buyer Personas

  • Champion
  • Influencer
  • Evaluator/Biz User
  • Decision-maker

Remember, there will be more people & personas involved in more-complex sales (ie: Boeing)

Personas

  • Create personas or mental models
  • Framework for establishing need mapped to customer life cycle
  • Ingredients:
    • Narrative Overview (ie: is this a “SysAdmin”)
    • Keywords that resonate
    • Objectives, priorities, orientation, obstacles
      • Q: Are personas “fluffy”?
      • A: Not when they help you refine the voice of the content, but they need to match the customer life cycle. The important part is the next question…
    • Define the questions you need to answer

Q: Should we create personas using a blog?
A: Not necessarily, a PPT or Word doc works. Anywhere you can create lists and add some thumbnails

Example Docs

  • Persona “buyer’s Journey”
  • Persona Questions: Buying Stage > Questions Content must Answer

Identify Content

  • Content Inventory
  • Content Audit
    • Get a value of what you have and understand if it answers questions in your persona
  • Gap Analysis
    • The “blank spots” in the Excel grid of questions & content
  • Content Maps (persona-specific)
    • Look at what you need to create
    • Do a flowchart of the customer life cycle & make sure you have something to get each persona through all the steps of the buying process
  • Content Plan (prioritized)
    • Figure out what’s the most-important, the most-quickly
  • Editorial Calendar
    • Build this from the Map & Plan, and assign resources to the needed items

Note that we go from a conceptual level, to a structured matrix, to execution

Q: How do you create or define a life cycle for your content?
A: This is where governance comes in (later in presentation). In terms of life cycle of the target audience — amount of content per-persona should pay attention to how long the sales cycle is.

Content Creation Guidelines

Reason for this is to think about how & who will produce the content

This isn’t typical in web dev cycles, which tend to rush the content-production or give it low priority & end up late

Delivery

WordPress is the tool, but think about: (1) How the team will get content into the site, (2) How users will consume the content (* This is where design fits-in)

Governance

  • Maintain, Measure, & Update
  • Build a team who have a defined workflow about how to go through and revise content plans/maps quarterly (or whatever)

Measure:

  • Quantitative – analytics, etc
  • Qualitative – how people answer surveys, positive comments, ratio of +/- comments, number of referrals, etc

Analyze & Optimize:

  • Compare performance w/ organizational goals
    • More awareness?
    • Changed attitude?
    • Stimulated taking a trial, viewing a demo?
    • Influenced a purchase decision?
    • Signed up new subscribers?

The sooner you connect content to org-goals, the sooner you can change & refine what you’re doing

Example:

Big client did a lot of getting people to webinars & ebooks. Found that ebooks were 10x better at generating sales than the high-effort webinars

Finding:

Best sales came from people who didn’t watch the webinar live … instead they downloaded & watched it later (* This was the busy decision-makers at-home when they had time)

Promises of Content Strategy…

  • Why content strategy should be the foundation for UX design, social strategy
    • Someone from IBM had great success applying this to the sales-cycle

How to execute on this:

  1. Step away from the CMS
  2. Identify goals
  3. Map & plan
  4. Put a team together, identify who does what
  5. Develop metrics & Create!
  • Why focusing on hot topics may not be the best strategy:
    • People get excited about new topics, but that may not be the best idea b/c it doesn’t answer the fundamental questions. Don’t skip those.
    • Lesson: Keep hot topics to a minimum & remember they’re only for buzz

Further Resources

  • Google, really. Search for ‘content strategy’
  • Kristin Halvorson book ‘Content Strategy for the Web’
  • Jonathan Colman – REI – jonathoncolman.com post “The Epic List of Content Strategy Resources”
  • Strategy & Creation: Margaret
  • Quality & Measurement: Colleen Jones book “clout”
  • Marketing side: Ardath Albee book “eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale”
  • Marketing: Joe Pulizzi started The Content Marketing Institute
  • CMS side: Structure content Sara Wachter-Boettcher
  • CMS/Technical side: Cleve Gibbon
  • CMS: CMSwire.com
  • James Mathewson – Global content strategy for IBM
  • Karen McGrane book “Content Strategy for Mobile”

5 thoughts on “‘The Fundamentals of Content Strategy’ Presentation Recap

  1. Pingback: Content Strategy presentation, Recap posted | Always searching

  2. mbijon Post author

    No problem Daniel. Took longer than I expected because we had such long notes, but without the slides I wanted to make sure I covered as much as possible.

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