It seems not to be enough to tell people about the product or service; you need to surround it with content that helps guide the customer around your product and the category.
What's hard about content is maintaining focus. On day one of a content launch, you can see the enthusiasm. A whole lot of content ideas that you kick off in the first few weeks, promoting on your social channels, popping into your email. But the challenges moving on from that initial content sugar rush are hiding just around the corner.
We see many issues for clients when they try to commit to producing content on an ongoing basis. In general, these challenges breakdown into three main areas:
What channels do you use for what segment? Do you need different assets for different channels? How do you coordinate this? Do you need a video? Do you need a podcast? What socials will work? All this becomes harder and harder to get a hold of.
The customer outcome on this complexity is that it's difficult for them to then find the content they're looking for. Finding content isn't the problem online; finding relevant, quality content is.
Who's creating this content? The person with the best idea may not be the best person to write it. You may have different divisions within a business writing about the same topic but with slightly conflicting points of view. This in turn starts creating problems for your search optimisation strategy. Which article does Google rank higher, and is it the one you'd want to have listed higher in the search results?
The customer problem that arises from this is confusion and mistrust. If you're getting different messages in a different tone but from the same organisation, even if that's on social or on the website, then you're going to slice away at the Salami of Trust that you have with your customers, and they'll go elsewhere.
You're putting money into this content and then putting money behind promoting that content. You should expect a return. If you're putting content out there that isn't attracting the right people or not improving conversion, or not achieving your overall goal, then the outcome is probably worse than not doing it all.
If your content isn't achieving something, then it's just going to lead to customer dissatisfaction. Given that your customers will engage with your content before someone buys from you, it can shape the customer's expectation of the whole customer journey from there. And if that content is leaving a customer with a nasty taste in their mouth, what will they assume about the rest of the experience they are considering going on.
So three client content problems, Complexity, Inefficiency and Ineffectiveness, in turn, creates customer problems; finding the content that's right for them, confusion and mistrust in your content and dissatisfaction with the whole customer experience. Not good.
How do we get back on the right track? Firstly, let's agree on some shared definitions around 'content'. It's one of these terms that can mean different things to different people.
- Content is information with a purpose for a targeted audience.
- That information may be text, video, audio, photos, etc.
- The purpose might be to educate, entertain, or persuade (convert).
So that's quite a statement. The key thing to understand is that the content has a purpose. A PURPOSE. That purpose, as you may have guessed, is tied to broader business goals. It's not because Bob in product design wants to talk to about red acrylic embeds of paper towels. Wanting to create content needs to be around a broader purpose for a business.
That could be explaining the applications for a new product feature to help customers understand it better. It could be to answer a customer service request to create content on installing a new part as they're getting a lot of service calls about it.
Understanding the purpose for creating content is essential—otherwise, it's just busy work.
Target audience is another key to creating great content. When clients tell us that they have bland content, it's because they've not defined the audience group that the content is for. Understanding the customer means that the content will be more relevant to them, and they may decide to dig deeper. Bland, for everyone content, ends up appealing to no one.
So when you're setting out to create content, it's helpful to create content strategies. A content strategy is built around 4 points:
- Business goals (what this content helps us achieve?)
- Customer focus (who is it for?)
- Customer needs (what will our customer look for in this content?)
- Content product (what type of content should we produce?)
For Good, our Content Strategy is:
To demonstrate the strategic thinking behind our creative work, we'll provide useful, straightforward content that helps marketing and brand managers make better decisions and positions us as a potentially useful partner in the future.
The content strategy is all about what we do to support our business goals. The goal of the content is to show our expertise that helps influence the customer group as seeing us as a potentially valuable partner in the future. Of course, we are; this is a new business tool that is useful rather than forceful.
Customer focus: marketing and brand managers. We love our jobs, and as such, it's easy to get into the craft of design, the intricacies of creating a website. But that's not that useful to the people that we're trying to work with. This content needs to be about you, the reader, and what helps make you better at your job.
Customer needs: knowing who our customers are, we need to create worthwhile content. We hope that we create content that makes you think and helps you make better decisions. Not saying we're expecting people to say, "What would Chris from the Good Round-Up podcast do?" but perhaps give you another perspective.
And finally, that all rolls up into making sure that our content product is "useful, straightforward content". This is us very much living our brand values here. The content you get has to relate back to the experience you'd get from Good as a client. Simple, honest and with a splattering of love. Our brand values and how we approach brand challenges mark our content out from everyone else.
And that's the framework for a content strategy. It's the top-level direction for your content. And you can have more than one content strategy, that's ok. But, to make sure that you're creating great content for each customer group, you're probably going to define the strategy for each one.
We've seen businesses try to create one big old content strategy for the business, and as people who love themselves some simplicity, we get it. But as your content approach tends to get less specific, more general and then you're back to the bland content problem.
Now, that isn't the end of the content story; you've got to come up with ideas for content, define a content calendar, understand the content as part of a customer journey, putting in place a content improvement plan and other stuff. But it starts with the content strategy to help guide all the other parts, a North Star to put Bob in product design in his box when he comes up with ideas.
We've got other content related articles here on the site. Take a look at the first steps for a content strategy, which adds more detail to some of the points here and some thoughts on when, or if, you should gate your content.