Brand as Publisher trend. As more brands look to capitalize on this trend, it’s important to take a step back and determine the why. When you consider ”Content” it doesn’t have to take the traditional forms: articles, video, images, etc. Rather, think outside the box to more experiential ideas. This might be an event, access to live streaming speaking panel, or even virtual reality. Today we’re going to talk about how to ideate, develop, publish and promote content more effectively, regardless whether it be to serve stakeholder communications/marketing, social media, or even traditional public relations, via CSG’s Content Process Optimization.
The idea of content optimization process is centered around what CSG calls a Content Value Exchange: If you deliver content that serves your audience by educating, entertaining or otherwise providing value, they’ll give you something in return, like their attention, advocacy, contact information or, ideally, their business. This value exchange should be the center of an organization’s content strategy, regardless whether it be media outlets, businesses, non-profits, or individuals, and should extend throughout the content process.
Relevance: How is this relevant to my reader’s interests and values? Timeliness: Is this information timely for my readers? Is it reaching them at their point of need? Neutrality: Is the content’s message strictly promotional or self serving? Shareability: Is this something your audience would share with family and friends? Would you share it? Impact: Does it evoke an emotional response among audience members, such as delight, sadness, laughter, or anger? Does it inspire them to take action or change their behavior? Authenticity: Is the piece consistent with your organization’s voice and messaging? Does it avoid being overtly sales-focused? Targeted: Is the content specific to the audience you’re trying to reach?
Business Value: Inform business strategy Data Value: help enable decisions on how to sell products/services more effectively Campaign Value: inform how the organization can use campaigns to drive higher sales Utility Value: inform how to enable customers to more effectively use products & services
One of the earliest examples of an effective content value exchange is the Michelin Guide, first published in 1900. Designed as a handbook with useful suggestions about where to stop for gas, lodging and food—more travel sells more Michelin tires, after all—the guide took on a life of its own and is now the most prestigious restaurant rating system in the world.
Another is John Deere’s magazine “The Furrow,” started in 1895, peaked in 1912 with 4 million subscribed audience. Today, it reaches over 570,000 in the U.S. and another 2 million globally. Interestingly, most readers (about 80%) still prefer print over the digital version. Older editions have become collectors’ items with a competitive marketplace.
Two brands that do this extremely well is MSNBC and Fox. While not necessarily healthy to our political environment, they have focused entirely on understanding their audience and delivering news through their preferred slant.
Red Bull has been one of the first brands that has shifted its entire business model, no longer considering themselves a beverage company, but more a content publisher focusing on creating content that its audience actively seeks out. Red Bull TV centers on extreme sports videos, culture, and lifestyle content, live music programming and long-form reality TV documentaries. They’ve also launched a couple TV series. The Red Bulletin is Red Bull’s magazine, which has grown into a monthly magazine with millions in readership across 11 countries. All this content is readily available for the simple cost of your email. Now Red Bull brings in nearly three times the world sales more than their nearest competitor, Monster (who is now getting much more involved in similar tactics).
Every content strategy follows a simple production cycle of extraction/creation, packaging and distribution. Every Content Strategy should be optimized across people, processes, and the content itself to ensure the strategy meets intended goals.
The first step is fully understanding the business. This includes everything from legacy processes and challenges, technologies, team structures, what’s working vs. what’s not working, where does it hurt the most, and what demographic and aspirational traits do our most valuable customers have in common.
Often times, conducting a reputation audit for an organization will provide tremendous insight behind the scenes of an organization. Because human behavior often is very quick to provide reviews or feedback when they’ve had a negative experience, these public forums can help identify opportunities to improve products/services and existing processes. This reputation audit should consider consumer-facing review sites as well as employee-facing review sites.
One of the biggest missed opportunities when launching new company initiatives is effectively communicating to internal and external stakeholders. Not engaging these influencers is a huge missed opportunity.
Content Audit Analysis: Focused on understanding what content assets the organization owns. From there we can identify what content can be leveraged or repurposed into the shared value concept and what content is outdated and no longer relevant to sunset.
Organizations that have been thoughtfully branded, should also have identified what are their core values. This value proposition might be centered on philanthropic marketing, cause championing, and often is tied to their product or service. This step is critical to developing the shared value concept.
Buyer personas are customers. Audience personas are influencers.
Don’t pick more than one buyer audience for each content focus. If you’re targeting more than one persona audience, create two distinct assets to promote separately.
Here, you’ll want to explore your most valuable client’s shared demographic traits, activities and interests, challenges (personal and professional), needs and aspirations/goals.
Identifying an organization’s buyer persona starts with digging into your owned CRM and sales data. Who is your most valuable customer and what demographic traits do they share. Cross reference this data with demographic insight from your social followers and your website visitor data. Up until this step, we’re making quite a few assumptions regarding who our persona is. To make this data most accurate and actionable, it’s necessary to conduct focus groups with a representative sample of the most valuable clients identified in the owned CRM and sales records. This is where a true understanding of your target personas is realized.
The next step is to map out this buyer persona’s conversion process. While conversion process will almost never follow the suit of the traditional conversion funnel, mapping out each phase, from consideration to identification to conversion, will help match existing content or identify content opportunities to help nurture prospects through the conversion process. This breakdown of the traditional funnel is primarily due to both consumer’s behavior changes, including multi-tasking, and content’s Omni-channel integration across multiple touch points.
Different types of content work for different stages in the conversion process. While this traditional sales funnel is long gone and consumers are much less predictable, many prospects will still experience each stage, even if it isn’t in order.
Once we have an understanding of who our buyer persona is and their conversion process, the next step is to map out this persona’s centers of influence. This can range from which online or offline media outlets/bloggers they follow, analysts, organizations, social media authorities, etc. Essentially any individual or group that can have a measurable impact or influence on our identified buyer persona.
Value concept creation – begin with the end in sight. If you’re looking to build a resource center, how would your target audience be a better person if they read every single piece of content?
The Goal: What is our business goal? The Audience: Who can satisfy this goal? Outcome or Value: What valuable content experience, separate from the product or service, can we deliver at that stage of a customer’s journey? Content Tilt: What is the unique voice or value? Story Map: The plan for making each content-driven experience a real and active initiative in our business; each piece being integrated into marketing and cross-functional.
Content Mission Statement: through a business and narrative lens, what are you providing, to whom, and for what benefit?
Effective Publisher – Content Worth Paying For Insight Data - First party audience data & trend identification Conversion Optimization – Creating content that helps streamline or increase the likeliness of conversions.
Kraft Food & Family magazine is a perfect example of an “effective publisher” that creates content worth paying for. Kraft also uses this magazine to cull insights from subscriber base, thus lowering their market research costs.
Johnson & Johnson online community has over 4 million subscribers and provides access to first party audience data and trends. The greatest unforeseen benefit has been the ability to A/B messaging and conduct market research, which has greatly decreased their marketing expenses.
Now LEGO has become the largest toy company, second only to Mattel
Like any publisher, every content strategy is organized around an editorial calendar that maps out ongoing content themes, blog posts, social media, and campaigns. This establishes a platform from which an organization can be nimble and reactive to timely opportunities (think Oreo’s blackout). Posts should already be optimized for the intended publishing platform, whether it be a blog, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.
Packaging content needs to keep target audience communication and content consumption preferences in mind as well as the unique culture requirements of specific distribution platforms. For instance, does your audience prefer text, visuals or video? Are they engaging on your blog, on LinkedIn, or Twitter? How can you then package up this content to be optimized for the user, search engines, and distribution platforms?
Distribution and promotion is another area where many organizations fall short. Never has there been a piece of content that went “viral” or was an instant success without the promotion engine. When considering distribution and promotion, first start with an inside out strategy beginning with your internal stakeholders moving to external stakeholders and eventually influencers. Be sure to reserve a paid budget to ensure your content is reaching the right people. This becomes increasingly important as social media evolves more into paid platforms.
When engaging in social media marketing, it’s important to keep in mind that social marketing is all about authentic engagement with relevant stakeholders. When social media first started, some organizations thought Facebook or LinkedIn would eventually replace an organization’s CRM (customer relationship management), but in reality, while social media can serve as a makeshift CRM, it really is a “rented” CRM platform, one you have to pay to gain access to your followers. This became extremely clear as social media sites looked to monetize their platforms to improve stakeholder relations and improve outside investment.
Paid Promotion can be extremely effective for getting in front of the right eyeballs. While there are endless options for paid promotion, it’s interesting to see many of these move away from brand promotion to content promotion. At CSG, we mostly leverage Search Engine Marketing (Google Ads), Retargeting Ads (ads that follow you, whether via websites or through social channels where you have a presence), and Native Advertising (behavioral ads that are editorial in nature and displayed via prominent media websites, including CNN and Forbes).
TOFU: Top of Funnel MOFU: Middle of Funnel BOFU: Bottom of Funnel
Analytics can be gleaned from many sources. We primarily use Google Analytics, social media insights and CRMs to measure effectiveness of any MarCom initiatives, even going as far as to tie specific initiatives back to a cost per lead/acquisition metric.
Within Google Analytics, we commonly look at engagement metrics, referral sources, and further refine those using Google Campaign URLs, Advanced Segments, and Goals.
Once you understand the impact, you can wash, rinse and repeat, tweaking your content marketing strategy to adapt to what worked vs. what didn’t. As with any process optimization initiative, this is often the most overlooked step; taking learned outcomes and applying them back into the ongoing strategy.
Becoming a Brand as Publisher through Content Value Exchange
CONTENT VALUE EXCHANGE
6/2/2016CONTENT PROCESS OPTIMIZATION2
VALUE OF CONTENT
1. Business Value
2. Data Value
3. Campaign Value
4. Utility Value
6/2/20164 CONTENT PROCESS OPTIMIZATION
“In every content-driven experience, it’s the collection of assets, not any single one,
that provides strategic value” ~Robert Rose with Content Marketing Institute
6/2/2016CONTENT PROCESS OPTIMIZATION5
CONTENT MARKETING IS NOTHING NEW