Your content strategy (you do have one, right?) should be focused on the following objectives:
- Establishing and supporting your brand
- Driving engagement with your sources of information, sources of revenue and followers
- Sales lead generation
- Supporting your message channels (press, social channels, industry watchers)
Do it right and you have a powerful process in place to support your firm or personal practice objectives.
As I discuss in other posts, branding in the analyst and information services world is more than a logo, color palette and splashy website, it’s the way in which you provide your analysis, forecasts, value proposition and content and what the reader takes from it. It is the depth, substance and relevance to what you are talking about and what your audience sees. You should have a relevant and professional look with clean graphics and lay out. (And if you are at the smaller end of the spectrum you can still look the part without having to fund a graphic design position.) But content clarity, message and discipline matter more.
Does your content show expertise? Does it show you and/or the firm as substantive? Engaged? Connected? Does it engender confidence in your reader? Does it show you to be an authority that people have to go to for something? And is it presented in formats that users like to see?
Say you have press releases, articles, white papers, PowerPoint decks, blog entry, tweets and video blogs. (You do have all or some of these, right? What results are they creating? Are they spurring interactions with people? Do people contribute comments? Do they email you? Buy things? Call and yell at you? Anything at all? And do you have reply mechanisms in place to address these responses? Are you responding appropriately? Do you take time to talk to the people who are most unhappy or who are pointing out where they find you lacking? Are you using disagreement to further your understanding of what’s really going on?
If your content isn’t spurring engagement or at least supporting your efforts to engage with the market then you really need to look at why that is.
This aspect of your strategy is the one that many people focus on but simply throwing up a paper, posting slides or excerpting pages from reports isn’t likely getting you all that you want. There has to be consideration for what each item is going to get you. And, is what you are posting going to compel someone to give you their details or ask you how to purchase something?
There was a time when I could have an analyst pull a paper together, we would post a link to the document and email to our lists. 3 days and 400 registered requests later my sales people were locked and loaded to go and sell something. Not so simple any more. Everyone does white papers, video blogs, gives away free reports or keeps an archive. Webinars have proliferated everywhere.
On the other hand, give away too much and what are you getting in return? You have to establish a fair return on your content with respect to what value you set for the items and evaluate the amount of registrations, requests for more, follows or shares. Also looking at how each content unit feeds into creating leads though your analytics apps. Not every content piece carries the same weight with each audience and industry. See what items create the best leads.
Press and trade media especially are key audiences for your content efforts. Your news releases have to be well written and substantive but also contain graphics and report data. Are you supporting media outlets with offers of interviews and yes, press copies of reports? Are you staying on top of what your industry press is covering? Are you engaging with them through social channels?
And for the social world, posting on Twitter or LinkedIn is a must but since everyone else posting what makes your content compelling and engaging? How much effort goes into producing quality graphics, text and messaging? LinkedIn groups used to be a way to promote findings but have been rendered ineffective with constant report spam posting from offshore report factories. So instead, there is a need to build your own following or aligning with other larger accounts be they media, trade associations or yes, vendors.
To make an effective content strategy work you have to think through what returns you want it to provide. You have to constantly consider and then reconsider how the various elements are working for you. Think about how the audience that you want to reach wants to interact with you and how they prefer to consume information and more importantly, what hot buttons do you need to hit in order to get them to do something worthwhile for you.
Bigger firms can afford to have a content director. Smaller firms and soloists have to do it themselves or engage with an outsider to support them.