We all accept that strategy guides us in the development and execution of our marketing—or it should.
Before we do anything else, we have to understand our current and potential customers, our competition, and the market conditions. In doing this, strategy explores the context within which we market and sell, and it hopefully reveals insights along the way that become the basis of a differentiating way to take our brand to market.
Content strategy is a subset of strategy in that it examines how best to use content to market the brand. It is a relatively new discipline just as the formal approaches to content marketing are new.
Instead of the highly controlled television and print channels of the past, we now have an unlimited number of Web and mobile channels that can carry all sorts of content. In a sense they are like TV or cable channels in that they need a flow of content in order to stay fresh and relevant. So whether it’s a Web publisher or a brand channel, the obligation is for it to be constantly fed with new content. What that content is about, what form it’s in, where it is delivered and when, is the subject of a content strategy.
A brand content strategy studies the behavior and opinions of customers and prospects—in the context of the greater strategy work—in order to create a plan to touch consumers throughout the path to purchase and beyond. The idea is to align the message, and the nature of the message delivery, to the psychology and situation of the consumer.
What you end up with is a complex map that lays out all the interaction points and what should happen at each one. The underlying concept is that the consumer’s cumulative brand impression and analytical evaluation process can be managed to the brand’s advantage.
Historically we have all understood that it takes multiple impressions in multiple media over a period of time to build the awareness and understanding that results in a sale. The same is true today.
The difference is that with so many of those interactions happening in measurable digital channels, we can now apply science to influence the outcome. The problem is that while this science takes us many steps forward, winning comes only from the marriage of science with art. The art is the message, and in a world driven by an onslaught of content, the creative, emotional qualities of the content become the key to success. The creative qualities of the content are absolutely critical, particularly in the case of video.
Few would disagree that the impact on results that comes from good creative is immeasurable. Now it’s more important than ever. With so many videos flooding the digital world, brands need to stand out. Unfortunately the process of creating artistically excellent content is not one that can be easily legislated. However, it is possible to stack the deck in your favor—as this deck explains: “How to Make Great Brand Videos.”
In the end, all of our interactions are a mix of science and art, part process and part magic. To market and prosper in a content-driven world, brands need to certainly do the science work of developing and executing a content strategy, but then the harder part is internalizing the creative values that result in the consistent production of magically good content.