By Georgianne Dickey
Senior Manager of Product and Marketing Communications
NTN Bearing Corporation of America
ACC Board Member

Powerful Content Strategy. We all want one. We all need one if we are going to survive. Future leaders and consumers around the globe are hungry for content.

From the time babies can hold a bottle, they are playing with their parent’s electronics. Message after message is delivered right to the palm of their hands whether they realize it or not.  Just like learning to walk or talk, we are now learning to expect information right now. And while I didn’t grow up in this generation, I have certainly adapted well to information at my fingertips. Let’s admit it, we can’t live without it anymore. Last night for example, I saw an image of Johnny Depp and his teeth were a mess. I immediately had to do some research to get to the bottom of it. Why? Who Cares? ME.  I care because I can get answers. Amazing!  I did get my answer, and in addition now have sponsored digital mouthwash ads being delivered to me.

How did they know?  Is that effective?  Is that Powerful Content Strategy?

61% of successful businesses have a documented content marketing strategy, and you’d be missing out if you’re not taking advantage of this powerful marketing opportunity. – Content Marketing Institute, 2017

If you are like me, sometimes the very thought of developing a content strategy seems overwhelming!  I mean, so many marketing  terms, so many avenues to use, what to say to who and when?  Am I thinking of a content strategy, social media campaign, SEM or SEO?

The idea of developing and implementing a content strategy is a fairly new concept.  Many companies and brands don’t have experts in place and are unsure what “content strategy” even is.  I decided to visit my great friend Google and ask “What is Content Strategy?”  There are many definitions but all generally conveying the same sentiment.  I found this definition from Justin McGill of HubSpot to be the most simple and to the point:

“In short, your content strategy is the piece of your marketing plan and development that refers to the management of pretty much any tangible media that you create and own — written, visual, downloadable — you get the picture.  You may have heard how important content creation is, it also needs to have a well-planned purpose.”

So, it’s everything.  Everything you create and what purpose you create it for.  A content strategy should be a part of your integrated marketing business plan.  I would suggest if you are new to the game, choose one area to get your feet wet whether it is e-mail marketing, social media, advertising, etc. and run a campaign.  As you get more comfortable, you can apply content strategy to your entire plan.

Here are some useful tips for developing your strategy:

1. Define a goal for your campaign

What are you trying to achieve? Increased traffic to your website, lead generation, brand awareness?  Defining your goal will bring focus and lay the groundwork for your plan.  Setting the goal can be one of the hardest steps in the process.  We want everything to be bigger and better than it was, but we have to define one or two specific goals in order to effectively market and achieve results.

2. Define your target and create a persona

As an automotive aftermarket parts manufacturer I can choose several targets such as WD personnel, counter people, technicians, service writers, and DIY’ers.  Once a target is selected, develop a persona for that target group.  A persona is a fictional profile that represents your target group characteristics.  I have developed personas for all my possible targets and have names for each of them.  This should be done thoroughly with research and include demographics, challenges, goals, hobbies and where they go for information.  Once a year I review and tweak them. I highly recommend doing this as once they are done, you will have them on hand for a while.   Once I set my goal, I can quickly review my personas and choose Hank & Sally as the best targets to achieve my goals.

3. Define your platform

What is the best way to reach your target with the right message to achieve your goal?  Reviewing your goal and personas should define the best platform opportunity.  If the persona you are targeting strictly gets their information from Facebook, don’t invest in print ads.

4. Evaluate & create content

Content is the key to your success.  Review all of your content.  Do you have anything that you can use?  If not, create it.  When you create content you must be mindful that it is relevant and engaging or it will be overlooked.  The right content is absolutely critical to the success of your campaign.  A few tips when writing content:

  • Use Keywords. Think about what your audience will be searching for and use those words. This will not only make your content easy to find but will promote SEO.
  • Create attention grabbing titles that are click-worthy and searchable!
  • Make it easy to read, it doesn’t need to be a white paper. It should be down-to-earth relatable information that is valuable to your audience. You are the biggest expert on your product or service.  Be that resource.
  • Be timely. Stay up to date with what’s happening in your industry or with your customer base.  Delivering the right message the right time is a recipe for success.

5. Measure your performance

Be sure to measure the performance of your campaign against pre-established KPI’s.  It will help you

learn what works and what doesn’t.  Keep in mind, you will have campaigns that don’t work.  We all do!  Don’t let that defeat you.  Even some of the most popular brands out there have had failed campaigns.  Learn from previous campaigns and have fun.

The key is to always remain true to the promise of your brand while engaging your audience.  Speak to them with relevant information where they are and you will build brand loyalty and sales conversions as a result.