For many marketers, January is a time of action and acceleration. While December was spent closing out projects and compiling reports, now is when marketers are hitting the ground running at warp-speed.
Before you push the launch button, though, make sure all systems are go. For content marketers, that means analyzing last year’s program results and using this context to review the foundations of your strategy, e.g., personas, buyer’s journey, and critical topics.
I recently was inspired to review one of PR Newswire’s “building blocks” — our content marketing mission statement — while listening to Joe Pulizzi during the webinar “5 Essentials to Epic Content Marketing for Business.”
The founder of the Content Marketing Institute offered an insightful map to work out the various elements of a successful content marketing program, and it seemed a great time to look at the components of our own content marketing mission statement.
To start, a mission statement of any kind must have a purpose. For content marketing, the statement needs to cover WHO you will be addressing, WHAT you are going to engage them with, and WHY they will want to participate.
Here’s how PR Newswire’s Content Marketing Mission Statement breaks down:
Our content will educate marketing, communications, and investor relations professionals on the best practices they can use to drive greater impact from their programs.
WHO: We will be designing our programs for marketing, communications, and investor relations professionals.
WHAT: We will be producing educational and best practices content.
WHY: Marketing, communications, and investor relations professionals will engage with our content to deliver better results from their programs and campaigns.
Evaluating our mission statement in the context of end-of-year reporting and upcoming priorities, this statement still encapsulates the content focus that we believe will support our 2016 efforts.
So let’s now look at how this statement might be used tactically.
WHO: If you lose track of the audience for whom you are writing, designing, shooting, recording, blogging, etc., your content is almost guaranteed not to engage them.
I often coach team members to identify the target audience right at the very top of their document; I have read pieces that I thought were for one audience and it turned out the author was supposed to be crafting a message for another persona. (Practicing what I preach: the first line of this blog post’s draft originally read “Audience: Content Marketers.”)
Now, Pulizzi strongly recommends only one audience persona per mission statement, and I understand that this is to ensure the content marketing strategy is properly focused.
However, PR Newswire’s has three audiences and it serves us well; a good question is, why does that work? For our audiences, we find the distinction is in WHAT is educational to them and what will make a difference to their business outcomes.
WHAT: PR Newswire’s mission to provide educational and best practices is focused and sounds straightforward, but there is actually more going on in the background.
The Topics We Create Content Around: Because our audiences are different, the subjects and conversations that will draw them in vary. For the Marketer audience it might be something like “new content marketing tactics to acquire new audiences,” while we would focus on Communicators with “structuring press releases to increase online discovery” and Investor Relations with “research on social media trends to formulate social media policy.”
The Buyer’s Journey We Align Content To: Our content plan is designed to cover the entire buyer’s journey, so “education” and “best practices” will range from the very high level and exploratory (e.g., “demand generation trends affecting content strategy”) to tactical and execution-oriented (“5 tips on including video in press releases”) to information for clients (“template for sharing results to stakeholders”).
The Formats We Use: The mission statement also doesn’t specify how PR Newswire will present and deliver the content. The format of the piece will take into account the audience, the topic, the stage in the buyer’s journey, and the available channels. “Demand generation trends affecting content strategy” may work best as live-streamed video and an executive summary; “5 tips on including video in press releases” could be an infographic and blog post; and “template for sharing results to stakeholders” could be the template and an email.
WHY: It’s not just important to define the audience; you must also articulate why that audience will find value in investing time with your content.
In our statement, PR Newswire wants to help all of our audiences deliver greater impact from their programs, and it’s important for us to keep in mind that different groups have different objectives.
Investor relations officers may want to generate new analyst coverage, marketers may be aiming to increase click-through rates, and communicators may want to boost traffic to their owned channels.
The objective of our content must have the objective of our audience in mind.
Mission (Statement) Accomplished?
Early on in your process, perhaps between designing your mission statement and starting content development – and before delivering your content to the market – you need to establish the metrics that will assess the performance of your content program.
This could be another formulation of the WHO, WHAT, and WHY of your mission statement. For example, increase new prospects with content that was shared across more channels and delivered an uptick in new revenue.
The start of the New Year is an excellent time to analyze the strength of your content marketing strategy’s “building blocks” to ensure that you are on a course to achieve your 2016 goals.
Want more marketing strategy tips? Download our Buyer 2.0 Content Strategy Checklist to learn how to align your content creation and distribution to the different stages of the buyer’s journey.
Author Eva Rohrmann is the director of solutions and customer lifecycle marketing for PR Newswire, designing integrated programs for communicators across the PR, marketing, and IR spheres.
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