For the past few weeks I’ve been preaching the good news about content strategies and all they can do for you. And yes, putting my hand up as someone who can create one for you. But you can create one yourself, and I’m putting my hand up as someone who can help you do that, too – right here, right now.
A couple of weeks ago when talking about the difference between content strategy and content marketing strategy, I listed the kinds of things that a content strategy can contain. If you don’t have the first four items on the list, I argued, you don’t have a solid strategy, and in fact, probably don’t have a strategy at all.
Here’s the action replay:
- Setting goals
- Developing a value proposition
- Creating a buyer persona or personas (or personae – hey, don’t accuse me of not knowing my Latin)
- Mapping content for each persona.
These four things – done in as little or as much detail as you like – are everything.
The first two items on the list are no-brainers. I mean really. Why wouldn’t you set goals, or develop a value proposition for your business? And yet, so many people don’t. Or they have it in their heads, believing that is enough, or it’s implicit, or whatever. It isn’t. Nothing is real until it’s written. The sheer process of writing goals and value propositions crystallises them, clarifies them, and gives them status as the reality you’re working for. Once they’re down, you can measure every function of the business against them: “Does this work towards our goals, or away from them? Does it fit our value proposition, or doesn’t it?” It stands to reason that you concentrate on the things that take you towards your goals and fit your value proposition, and ignore the rest. This concentration includes your content. Simple.
Creating your persona/s is where it gets interesting – and a lot of fun. Your buyer persona is a fictional construct – what in fiction we call a composite character – that represents a certain sector of your market. (And yes, of course you may have more than one.) Creating one is fun because you get to pin down who they are, what their basic stats and characteristics are, their goals, their problems, what keeps them up at night, where they hang out when they’re online, and so on. But many people and departments who go to the trouble of creating their persona leave it there and go no further. They treat them like a spell, or incantation: “If you create them, they will come”. Waste of time.
A persona is of no use whatsoever until you do two vital things: first, put yourself in their shoes so you can predict your clients’ and market’s actions, and second, use the persona to inform your voice and content. Your content strategy is not about your voice and what you want to say – it’s about your clients: what they want and need to hear, and how they want to hear it. As Michael Brenner said, it’s about becoming customer-obsessed.
Give it a go. Each one of these steps can take as little as 10 seconds (writing down a goal) to 20 minutes (mapping the content) for a strategy that is simple and still packs a helluva punch. Let me know how you get on, and if you get stuck, give me a shout.