In today’s digital age, content marketing has become a linchpin in the realm of brand promotion and audience engagement. Crafting an effective content marketing strategy is akin to constructing a sturdy building; it requires a robust foundation. This article explores the fundamental pillars that underpin a successful content marketing strategy, offering valuable insights into how they drive an organisation’s content-based initiatives.

The Need for a New Model

Much like traditional marketing that leans on the ‘Four Ps’ (Product, Price, Place, and Promotion) to devise a marketing mix, content marketing necessitates its own unique framework. The strategy begins with three core pillars: Communication, Experiences, and Operations. These pillars interconnect and lay the groundwork for a cohesive and purpose-driven content marketing strategy.

Pillar 1: Coordinated Communication

At the heart of content marketing is communication. Successful businesses excel in conveying their messages with clarity, consistency, and creativity. The first core category of activities within the Communication pillar is ‘Purpose.’ It entails the development and management of core responsibilities and processes that allocate resources and skill sets efficiently. This ensures that a content marketing team isn’t merely tasked with content creation but is enabled to manage content effectively.

One common misconception is that a content team’s primary role is to create content. In reality, their purpose is to empower the business to operate content proficiently. The ‘Model’ is the second activity category within the Communication Pillar, which defines the governance and operating model. Whether an organisation opts for a centralized or federated approach, a well-defined model is critical for success.

For instance, the Cleveland Clinic employs a centralised content marketing department, whereas other businesses may adopt a ‘federated model,’ focusing on enabling various departments to create and manage quality content. This framework ensures content marketing aligns with the business’s goals.

Pillar 2: A Portfolio Of Experiences

While Coordinated Communication is concerned with managing the quality and quantity of content, the second pillar, ‘Experiences,’ revolves around creating designed containers for content. These containers can take the form of emails, websites, print magazines, social media channels, and more. Businesses must strategise how content is leveraged across these platforms, akin to media companies that maximise content in various formats. Whether this is content for voice search or content for a new homepage of your website, having this fit the brand tone as well as be informative for the customer is the top priority.

Just as a media company monetises its content experiences, businesses should similarly treat their owned media channels, like websites and blogs, with care. Each container within the portfolio of experiences should have a defined purpose, goals, and objectives, making them as crucial as any product or service.

The two activity categories within this pillar are ‘Audience’ and ‘Value.’ ‘Audience’ involves treating each experience as a product, conducting market research, understanding the audience, and setting specific, measurable goals. ‘Value’ is derived from meeting the designed objectives of the content-driven experiences and integrating insights. This pillar underscores the importance of delivering content with a strategic purpose.

Pillar 3: Strategic Operations

The third pillar, ‘Strategic Operations,’ parallels the role of accounting in business. Content marketing, like accounting, is pervasive, impacting every facet of the organization. However, content is often managed haphazardly. The CEO’s relationship with content changes in the era of data-driven marketing, making content strategy inseparable from overall business strategy.

The ‘Frame’ is the central activity within the Operations Pillar, emphasizing the need for content-as-standard. It calls for a clearly articulated and replicable process that can adapt to new ideas. This process should span people, processes, and technology and be guided by standards, guidelines, playbooks, and technology to ensure content creation, management, distribution, and measurement are consistent and scalable.

In today’s multichannel landscape, content must be adapted for various formats and translated into multiple languages. A repeatable set of processes, governed by standards, is essential to manage the deluge of digital assets efficiently.

These three pillars, along with their associated activities, create a robust framework for a content marketing strategy. They serve as pressure points to gauge the strategy’s strength. The framework raises critical questions about competencies, working models, internal processes, measurable objectives, and the alignment of content marketing with business goals.

A content marketing strategy is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It evolves and adapts to the business. George Box aptly stated, “All models are wrong, but some are useful.” The model outlined in this article offers a tested structure for content marketing success, with each element adaptable to the unique needs of your organisation. The key is to consciously craft your content marketing strategy with a deep understanding of these core pillars, creating a solid foundation for success.

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