Posted: November 22, 2011
Content strategy: It’s about the information, not the highway
What's driving your firm's digital image?By Laura Speek
For years, business managers have focused on the technology that has created the internet "information highway." They've hired programmers and developers to ride the next big technology wave, flashing fancy graphics and paring down load time. Recently (and finally!), some savvy people have started taking a hard look at the information that's flowing as opposed to the technology that carries it.
Enter the idea of "content strategy" and the realization that a firm's internet and mobile presence is essentially its digital image. Smart business leaders are putting time, money and energy into carefully building their firms' digital images. Content strategists are emerging to help them do this in an organized, effective and measurable fashion.
The building block of any successful business is solving problems and fulfilling needs. That hasn't changed since days of trading posts and midnight rides. What has changed is the level of competition and the idea of harnessing technology to exchange messages that build relationships with existing and potential customers.
This leads to some very important concepts:
1. A firm's digital image is the starting point for crafting relationships with new and existing customers.
2. Relationships cement customer loyalty and drive sales.
3. The relevance, usefulness and consistency of your message, not the actual delivery system, is what solidifies your brand and sparks customer relationships.
4. Successful content strategies go beyond sending timely and well-crafted messages; they extend to engaging your prospects in conversations. This enables you to learn more about your market and to pinpoint relevant needs and concerns.
Businesses with successful content strategies enjoy strong digital images that are backed by loyal followers who provide enthusiastic and believable recommendations to potential customers. What's at the center of this kind of viral marketing? Fresh, engaging content that tells a story and supports your branding strategy.
Does your business need a content audit? Start by taking inventory of the content on your website, your mobile site, videos, ad copy, brochures, hand-outs, spec sheets, business proposals, white papers, articles, training materials, press releases, newsletters, emails, autoresponders, letterhead and business cards. Your company may have a lot more existing content than you realize.
Now, determine if your content is consistent across the board. Does it support your brand and address your target audience in a style and tone that grabs their attention? Does it tell a story that conveys your intended message? Did you add a new product or change your logo, colors or tagline at some point along the way and forget to update other pieces in your content library?
You will want to identify what content is working and what content has become stale and ineffective. Outdated, irrelevant content can turn off potential customers. Develop a plan to build on your effective content and chuck the old stuff that may actually be hurting your business.
As you create your content strategy, here are some questions to ask:
What problem do you solve?
Does your content convey your solution effectively and present compelling reasons to buy from you?
What type of content will attract and engage your target market?
How can you repurpose and recycle good content?
Who should be responsible for managing your content?
What is the best content strategy for your business?
Spend some time cultivating your content and watch it grow into a valuable asset for your business.
Laura Speek, MBA, is a professional in business communications and principal of Right Now Writing. She helps companies manage their digital images by creating business and marketing content that aligns perfectly with branding messages. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or (720) 922-9077.