A couple of years ago, Joe Pulizzi and I updated an ebook we had produced a couple of years prior to that: The Content Marketing Playbook: 42 Ways to Connect with Customers. (Why 42? It was a nod to the company that eventually morphed into the Content Marketing Institute, Junta 42.)
The important thing is not the exact number, but to note that, even at 42 (and I’m sure you can think of more), there are a lot of tactics to choose among. How do you make informed choices about which ones to pursue? With such a bewildering array of options – and new ones that seem to emerge every day – how can you be sure that you’re following a purposeful strategy rather than a passing fad?
Since every content tactic is an investment in time, money and hope, I suggest you make your investments in those tactics that meet the following criteria:
1. Fit with goals: Can you reasonably anticipate that a given tactic can help you achieve one or more to the business goals you previously defined as part of your content strategy? (See Part 4 of this content strategy series.) If, for example, you’re a B2B enterprise whose strategy is to intercept prospects researching the web to create a shortlist of potential vendors, you would want to invest in tactics that are keyword-rich and search-engine friendly, such as blog posts, ebooks/white papers, articles, etc. If you’re an e-commerce B2C business that depends on a high-volume of impulse purchases, you’d probably invest in tactics, such as Pinterest/Instagram images and Twitter microblog posts, that stimulate a regular flow of repeat visits. These are crude and grossly over-simplified examples, but I hope they illustrate the point: there has to be a logical bridge between what the tactic can do and the goal you want to achieve.
2. Audience match: Different audiences consume content in different ways and frankly, you have to play the content game on their terms, not yours, if you expect to be effective. Mobile-friendly content (short videos, pithy web pages) may be the right for match for fickle consumers on the move. Technically-detailed infographics, how-to videos or data sheets could be good for engineers and/or designers. Look before you leap; it might not be a bad idea to do an informal survey of your customers to find out what they actually prefer to read or see.
3. Internal capabilities: It’s time for cold, brutal honesty: the right tactics are not the ones you would like to do, but the ones you can do, repeatedly, at a price you can afford to pay with the resources at hand. At the most obvious level, this is about time and money: can you afford to produce the content? Do you have staff who can apply time (and will be rewarding for applying their time) to the content? But beneath the surface, this is also about talent and how it is expressed to best advantage. To fulfill a “thought leadership” goal, for example, you might be tempted to create live or online events to showcase an executive – but is this executive capable of holding an audience’s attention? If not, perhaps it would be better to translate her ideas into written content instead. Or take video: some people, who might otherwise be poor writers, have a natural gift for projecting personality into a camera – so put ‘em in front of one. Others, even though they’re exuberant in real life, simply freeze on film. You don’t need tactics that might work in theory; you need ones that will work within the real-world possibilities and limitations of your business.
If you attend the Content Marketing 101: Getting Started workshop at Content Marketing World, you’ll learn to focus on the tactics most likely to really work for your business. And hey, you can save $100 when you register by August 15 and use the coupon code, CMWA100.