In my last post, I set out to explain my approach to digital content strategy development, which ties everything back to specific business goals and objectives using the POSTT approach:
People, Objectives (as in Objectives for the Content Strategy), Strategies, Technologies and Tactics.
This post is the companion piece, where I want to further explain the Strategies, Technologies, and Tactics components.
What is a Strategy?
Strategy defines the parameters of the actions you will take to achieve your objectives.
In the simple analogy I used in the previous example, if the objective is to get to Atlanta from Birmingham for a job interview on Thursday, your strategy would be to drive to Atlanta early Wednesday morning and spend the night. That’s one strategy among several that are possible, and probably the best given normal circumstances.
The tactics would be the choices you make about departure time, which highways to follow, which hotel to stay in that’s most convenient to the interview location, etc.
Inbound Marketing Content Strategy
Inbound marketing is based on the creation and delivery of useful content to your prospects. This content is designed to help your prospects come to know, like and trust you and to move them through your sales funnel.
In this context, I prefer to craft an overall content strategic framework and then develop separate strategies for each technology channel in the mix. Hence, the extra T in my version of POSTT.
Let’s use a landscape design firm as a possible client. This hypothetical firm focuses on upscale residential landscape design.
An inbound marketing content strategy might be built around creating and publishing a series of articles on topics that address the why-and-how of various techniques for caring for turf, certain plants used in landscaping, how the investment in landscaping adds to the value of a home, how the homeowner can incorporate pollinator friendly species into the mix for eco-friendly reasons, and so on.
As I emphasized in the previous article, the bulk of the content would be created and published first on the website, for SEO benefits and to ensure that the content isn’t lost when prospects leave one digital network to join the next shiny community. Hosting and publishing the content on your own website also helps you with lead capture and tracking the prospect through your sales funnel.
I’m writing this on the premise that text (written) content will be the primary type of content you're using, but every content strategy must also include some visual elements. A client like a landscape design firm would also require lots of photos and, perhaps, even videos (even simple DIY videos shot on the fly with a smartphone are invaluable).
Some clients could benefit from an audio content strategy, either as stand-alone audio segments, longer on-demand white papers, or an ongoing series of profiles, interviews and company news updates. On-demand audio strategy and production is one way I differentiate the services I offer, but on-demand audio and podcasting isn’t right for every client. I’ll cover on-demand audio n a separate article.
An editorial calendar will be created to identify who is responsible for creating and approving each piece of content, along with when the content will be created, reviewed, approved and published on the website.
The editorial calendar is a key part of the content strategy at this level.
Social Media Strategies
Identification of social channels where you’ll also publish the content is another aspect of the overall content strategy.
Continuing with the example of the residential landscape design client, we might choose to use Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram as the social channels to reach prospects.
Based on the likely demographics of this client’s prospects, I would probably focus on Facebook and Pinterest, primarily because the Instagram audience skews younger and this audience might not be at the socio-economic stage to be a great prospect for this particular client.
Then next step would be to develop specific strategies for repurposing and enhancing the articles, photos and videos for publication on Facebook and Pinterest and, perhaps, Instagram (mainly for aspirational brand awareness, if the client has someone who can take ownership of the Instagram publication schedule).
Each social network requires a separate strategy that is designed to maximize reach with the target audience on that network in a way that’s consistent with the cultural norms of that social network.
The biggest failure I see in business marketing on social media is an effort by many small and medium sized businesses is to use a one-size-fits-all approach to social media marketing. [Actually, that might be the second biggest failure. The first might be simply to follow the “let me throw some stuff out there and hope someone sees it” strategy.]
Example of Simple Facebook Strategy
Let’s use Facebook to briefly describe a strategy for this hypothetical residential landscape design client.
We have a Facebook business page and the strategy is to publish a mix of photos, articles and videos on the Facebook page that target a certain demographic with the objective of brand awareness and lead capture.
Tactics for the Facebook Strategy
Next we create the tactical plan for Facebook:
The plan includes publishing 2 pieces of content each day, excluding Sunday.
We create the Facebook-specific portion of the editorial calendar. This should that identify most of the content for a 7 or 14-day window, with some flexibility to respond to weather issues, current events, etc.
All content published on Facebook will be shared using link customizers or tracking pixels to identify the source.
Possible Types of Content for Facebook
- Content might include photos of work performed.
- Short excerpts from the text resources created for the website with links back to the website
- One 30-60 second video each week from a job site (without revealing the home, unless the homeowner gives written consent)
- Three items of promoted content that lead directly to lead-capture tools on a landing page.
We can get a lot more advanced in the tactical stage and talk about tracking pixels, using dark posts for promoted content on Facebook, the benefits of uploading video directly to Facebook, issues with organic reach of content published on your Facebook business page, but all of that is beyond the scope of this article.
Wrapping it Up
I hope this 2-part overview of the content marketing strategic planning process helps to explain the difference between objectives, strategies and tactics.
Perhaps more importantly, I hope this 2-part series convinces you of the the necessity of crafting specific audience profiles and a plan-of-action to reach those audiences in an engaging and meaningful way to build awareness, familiarity and trust to grow your business.
The terminology is less important, in the end, than the results.
If you speak with your clients, customers and prospects as people, not demographic segments, you’re more likely to find success than if you throw out one-size-fits-all content, as a traditional media ad or on your social media channel.