Gone are the days of a blanket press release or annual media event. Brands are now afforded direct access to their customer base through a wealth of channels.
PR, email, social media – these are all just channels. The challenge is keeping them fuelled with relevant and engaging content. Not doing too much, or too little, and – most importantly – being timely. And we’re not talking time zones (though that’s a daily consideration for an international content marketing team!). We’re talking ‘being of the moment’ in an information-heavy world where getting cut-through takes more than having a prettily populated content calendar.
What’s the solution?
Ensuring a brand’s key messages reach their desired audiences relies on a carefully thought through content strategy framework. One that identifies timely opportunities to engage or ‘moments’ where a customer is seeking out ‘useful’ content. This could be a brochure, price list or data sheet if they’re in ‘buying mode’. But if they’re not in this zone, serving up this kind of content simply wouldn’t be relevant. After all, no-one wants to be sold to. But we all need a solution.
Serving up the right content solution, depending on what moment a prospect is engaging with the brand, builds belief. The belief that, when they’re nearing the point of purchase, the particular product/brand/service is worth re-engaging with – because they’ve already proved valuable, in some way, throughout the decision making process; perhaps by acting as a ‘useful’ source of inspiration, information and/or advice.
Useful content inspires, informs and, most importantly, influences
Whether it’s getting insights on an industry trend from a white paper report, following an inspiring social feed or downloading a case study – accessing content that satisfies a broad customer need at a critical time (where perceptions are being shaped and/or selections are being made) is what it means to be timely. This is targeted delivery in the modern marketing world; a world where user personas are arguably dead and the traditional sales and marketing funnel is now defunct.
An effective content strategy is centred on capturing these moments to influence and devising content that helps create further opportunities to engage. But catering for each and every possible scenario can be daunting – especially if you’re building your content suite from a standing-start. In this sense, it can be helpful to categorise the different types of content that could prove the most useful in nurturing a lead closer to conversion.
Introducing ‘Hero, Hub and Help’
As we touched upon earlier, value-add content largely offers inspiration, information and/or advice. For content planning purposes, these assets can be placed into three ‘buckets: ‘Hero’, ‘Hub’ or ‘Help’. The objective here is to make sure the right balance of content is being produced to serve a particular moment.
Defining Hero content
We describe Hero content as your ‘go-big’ content. This should be professionally produced and designed to attract as much attention as possible.
This could comprise an industry report or whitepaper, a video or webinar – the sky’s the limit as long as it provides unique insight to a desired sector. Once produced, the Hero content will be distributed across a number of channels for maximum exposure.
Usually thought provoking, this content is most valuable at the ‘awareness’ stage of the customer journey. Where there may be little or no prior knowledge of the product/ brand/ service. Arguably, however, this kind of content can also play a role in strengthening existing customer relationships. Helping to keep front of mind – offering reassurance and reigniting interest in perhaps additional parts of the offering.
Populating ‘The Hub’
Hub content is lower value, higher frequency formats designed to appeal to existing customers or prime prospects. It should encourage recurring interactions, be non self-promotional and provide valuable insights on an ongoing basis. This is the ‘bread and butter’ stuff that helps underpin everything else. It is also what’s known as ‘push’ content, which means its distribution is reliant on building networks of followers and subscribers to social media channels and owned newsletter lists. Hub content could include blogs, case studies, social posts or event round-ups.
Help content does what it says on the tin – it finds and fills gaps in information for a company’s customer base. Through establishing who the target audiences are, where they are active and learning their main interests, the aim is to produce expert insights that answer a question, offer tips or provide advice. This ‘pull’ content is then optimised to ensure it ranks well in the search engines.
The overall aim of Help content is audience engagement and building a loyal online follower base, which will share the content to their own followers. It might include brochures, how-to guides, FAQs or demos. Ultimately, the goal is to elevate customers, transforming them into brand advocates or ‘fans’.
Bringing it all together in your 2019 content marketing plans
Producing and organising content in a strategically targeted way avoids the churn and helps brands deliver more compelling outputs, resulting in more measurable outcomes.
Done right, these frameworks can form the basis of an all-encompassing content marketing strategy that covers all relevant channels and helps marketers determine where the greatest effort-to-reward returns lie (in terms of time and spend).
So, when colleagues question, shouldn’t we be dialling up social media? Do we invest in an e-newsletter? Which events and exhibitions should we attend? The content marketing strategy holds the answer. Plotting moments against content types and formats not only helps formulate a campaign prototype but it means marketing teams can very easily spot any potential gaps.
As 2019 plans get into full swing perhaps consider a change of ‘content marketing’ course. It may be that you don’t need tactical support on delivery but it could be that you’d benefit from some support in developing a truly cut-through content strategy.
If you’re interested in finding out more about our unique approach to content marketing, please get in touch.