A lot of us have been waiting for this talk >> Buddy’s been entertaining us all morning in 1:1 conversations. Now, he’s taking to the big stage. I’m anticipating a standing ovation, or at least a wave.
Buddy Scalera, SVP Interactive Content and Market Research, at Ogilvy CommonHealth, is a passionate advocate for better content strategy. As an industry, we say “content is king.” But we treat it like a pauper. Content is something that’s shunted off after we do the big digital strategy. It’s left to a junoir editorial team, wearing Birkenstocks and horn-rimmed glasses (<< at least at Ogilvy ;)
Content planing is something we’ve been doing forever, but the texts we all refer to were written in the last few years. Buddy took us back – in his PowerPoint time machine – to meet Grok, your average Cro-Magnon and the first health educator. He had critical information to share: Which berries were safe to eat and which were not. He took that information to the common cave wall and inscribed it to share the valuable information. It was used, shared, and the tribe grew as the education helped them eat and live more safely. Eventually he became a subject matter expert and his seal of approval (“Grok berries”) became valued. He created new ways – leaves, rocks, WOM – to make it easier to share person to person.
Advertising evolved much the same way. We’d create a valuable message and plaster it in key places. Then realized that place wasn’t enough. The message had to spread to multiple destinations and media.
That’s where content strategy comes in. Content strategy is a driver to create channel agnostic content. It’s what makes our ideas and information portable across new mediums.
Content is how consumers make decisions. It’s where we find the opportunity to build valued connections:
Marketers make the same mistake that a lot of people make on those first dates. We demand too much too soon (asking for tons of personal information). Or we overshare (telling them everything all at once).
There is a better way. There are more considered principles of good content marketing:
- Content is more than text. It’s the non-verbal cues, the pictures, the artifacts, the tools, the interactions.
- Content is not always consumed the way you think. People don’t read it like a book and follow neatly along the narrative. It’s much messier than that. Content is often gulped on the fly or read in a sound bite.
- Starting with the right infrastructure is critical – the content strategy is that blueprint.
We all have content. Some of it’s in details, some in pamphlets, some on the web. But it’s not all fully aligned or used to its greatest potential. To make the most of that content, start with an asset audit. Find what content speaks to the right audience at the right time, when they’re ready to take an action.
Most brands will be surprised by how much content they already have.
The next step is a content matrix – how we’ll use that content, modify it, and make it work aross channels. To do it right, Ogilvy starts with the end in mind – aligning the content against the goals and metrics for each tactic (without aligning those metrics, we won’t know whether it’s “time to open a bottle of champagne or put our resumes on Monster”).
That ultimately creates a brand footprint. One that shows a complete, complementary ecosystem: What people will learn in social and search, what they’ll find on an unbranded site, what they’ll learn in branded.
This is the point where we start the site map. Surprised? That’s where teams often start, but without this content planning, site maps are full of missed opportunity. The content and content strategy help copywriters:
- Write toward user needs
- Understand and help deliver on KPIs
- Know how to personalize or cross market
- See how content will evolve over time
Content strategy is like business planning for your content. It’s putting business rigor to the content you’re investing in. Your content strategist is the key person who understands how all that content interplays and how people can find it, use it and share it. That strategist unifies measurement and optimization across all those channels. She owns the goals and identifies micro conversions. She knows what people will share. And, how it should be delivered differently on the big screen, the middle-sized screen, the small screen – all the screens.
In short the strategist owns the content strategy: the plan for the creation, publication and governance of useful, usable content.
Five principles for how marketers can be good managers and advocates of content strategy:
- Ask a lot of questions
- Figure out what the customer wants
- See what you already have
- Think like a publisher
- Make it part of your process