I think we can agree that we’ve moved past the notion that organizations need to create content. Mention content marketing to a CMO in an organization large or small and you don’t need to put together a slide deck to make the case for a strategy, they want know how soon we can start.
The challenge today is not just about fulfilling the digital consumer’s need for relevant, personalized content, but that the pendulum has swung toward fears of an overdose of content with commentators talking about content shock or that 90% of marketing deliverables are not used by sales.
So how do we address that?
Whether you describe the practice of engaging your audience through content as a content strategy, a content marketing strategy or customer experience – in this article I’d like to propose that there are four fundamental P’s that your organization needs to understand.
And all four P’s are People.
People that you talk to today
As marketers we all have a notion of who we are communicating with, but often this is an aspirational opinion of who we’d like to be marketing to or it’s informed by the wrong data.
Maybe it’s who the business think they should be selling to – perhaps informed by the sales ideals of “access to power” you get caught up in believing you are selling to the C suite. Guided by this you create content that whistles over the head of the real audience and is giving the buyer insufficient information to make a decision.
Or perhaps that big spike in traffic is because you’ve somehow found yourself on the school curriculum and every 10 year old in Connecticut is downloading the PDF about how your organization makes cheese. Meanwhile some bright spark with access to Google analytics is suggesting (based on the DATA!) that the PDF is a success and we should do more of them.
Whatever it is, knowing who you are really talking to today is People number 1 – this baseline insight will tell you if you are saying the right things to the wrong people or maybe the wrong things to the right people!
People that do the talking for you
These are the people that are formally (or informally) the communicators within your business.
Traditionally you would consider the “communicators for your business” the frontline customer service, marketing and sales folks – and there is plenty written about the importance of engaged employees within a customer experience strategy (for example this article on InsideCXM).
But for this P, my suggestion is to look broader than that and subscribe to the notion of all of your employees as a social media outlet (as described by Doug Kessler writing for the Content Marketing Institute).
Our employees and colleagues are often incredibly engaged with the audience we’d like to reach, they have chosen to work in this industry, to apply a specific craft or are the right demographic for the products you sell. Plus, of course, it’s free!
Like the other P’s we’ve identified, you need to engage with this internal audience, orchestrate them to be consistent with your overall communications strategy, let them know where the content is you’d like to share and provide the tools and resources they need.
People that are talking about you
Maybe you do have the ear of the executives and they love your content, but actually the people that are shaping the opinion about your brand, product or service (and maybe adding fear, uncertainty and doubt into this executive conversation and your sales pipeline) are the users of your product, the readers of your product documentation and the people coming to your website for help.
These are the opinion formers, the sneezers (as Seth Godin describes them) this army of advocates (or detractors) that are going to take your message (or not) into their communities, to their friends, colleagues, alumni and peer groups.
Understanding who these folks are, what they are saying and where they are saying it enables you to focus your content message, as well as the outreach and distribution strategy.
People that you want to talk to tomorrow
When we talk about marketing analytics of any kind, we tend to be looking in the rear view mirror, people that came to the website, current social media sentiment and yesterdays campaign success. There is another P that we need to think about – tomorrow’s people.
Most organizations are constantly shaping their place in the market and disruption is the watchword. If there is one thing we can predict it is change; there will be new products, new markets, new social media channels or new ways to engage.
Taking a forward look should inform your content strategy to have the adaptability to change. Whilst you may not know what it is yet, it needs to be the foundation for the next big thing. Think about how you insulate your content operations and create a content factory that can leverage the next Pinterest without a drastic retooling or content creation effort.
There we have it, my suggestion for coping with the content shock and cutting through the fog of digital disruption with relevant, compelling, persuasive content – focus on the 4 P’s: People, People, People, People.
Ian Truscott is the Senior Vice President of Content Strategy at Tahzoo. This article was originally published to LinkedIn.