Many companies view marketing as a cost that keeps growing year by year. Some brands are even adopting an in-house agency model in an attempt to manage marketing costs and quality over time. (Not a terrible idea — but that’s a topic for a different post.) Thanks to the ever-changing landscape we are asked to navigate in order to keep our audience, it’s true… content costs can add up.
And, it doesn’t have to be that way. Content is definitely capable of being an asset more than a liability.
Do Your Homework
Begin with the end in mind. Do you want a group of early-adopting, rabid fans? Or maybe a thoughtful, considered group of industry leaders who believe in your mission and products? Or perhaps you need the longevity of repeat customers who know the value of your product and aren’t swayed by flashy substitutes? There are a lot of audience profiles to consider, so start with your end goal firmly in mind.
Now, we do the research it takes to figure out what your target audience REALLY wants. Where does your brand story connect with your audience needs? This isn’t about you, or your brand. This is still all about them.
Take a look at your mission statement, brand messaging, and values. Do they resonate with your target audience? Are you living your values with your employees? (When everything aligns, your employees are often your number one marketing tool.) This step is all about creating an internal culture that magnifies your value rather than conflicts with your mission.
Let’s put your marketing program under the magnifying lens. Is your marketing team on-board with your brand goals? Or do you have some mavericks off trying to create a little marketing empires?
How are your values and messaging lining up with your content plan? Do you have a brand value of transparency, but gate your content? Do you champion the rights of your consumers, but bombard them with pop-up advertising or unsolicited emails? Do you claim to be “disruptive,” yet follow dated marketing guidelines?
How about your channels? Are you spending your time and money on FaceBook ad targeting when your target audience looks for industry news on LinkedIn? Do you want rabid fans, but insist on owned channels while dismissing the importance of inbound marketing?
It doesn’t pay to take shortcuts with alignment. Consumers are savvy people these days. The more cohesive your values are with every step of your marketing, the better off you’ll be for creating a long-lasting customer impact.
Creating a Content Asset
So, what about the actual content? When a brand is producing high value content (meaning it’s interesting, unique, entertaining, informative, thought provoking) aligned with brand goals and values, then you have what I consider a content asset. I think of it like my dad used to always explain investing … when you have your dollars invested and working like little compounding soldiers, you can move beyond a mentality of dollar in/dollar out budgeting. Same with marketing — a high quality piece of marketing content makes its own way out into the world thanks to sharing and word of mouth. Combined with an army of other high-value pieces, your market share conversion metrics compound exponentially.
Building an army of content soldiers takes time. And an investment mentality. This is where all of your hard work to align your values and messaging pays off. We all know that it costs quite a bit to acquire a brand evangelist. So, keeping that evangelist only makes sense. A good suite of content can do just that. And when you have a suite of value-add content based on what your target audience wants and needs, you now have content longevity that can easily refresh or rebrand as needed over multiple platforms and over time. (Read: Save lots of money over time)
You aren’t done yet! Now, you relentlessly optimize that content. Until your end-goal consumer comprises the majority of your audience, you have quite a bit of room to move and iterate with the content you’ve already created. Sometimes data gives you all the insight you need and you can A/B test until you’re completely satisfied. And sometimes you need to engage your intuition or get out there and talk to real people to finesse your content soldiers. Most of the time, we need both strategies to create a compelling picture. But the outcome… so worth it.