Are Your Content Messaging and Formats a Match Made in Heaven?

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My favorite Bravo TV show, “Newlyweds: The First Year,” premiered earlier this month. To say I’m ecstatic is an understatement. Each season chronicles different couples as they go from their wedding day to the final day of their first year as a married couple. What I love most about the show is that you see people from so many different backgrounds experience the same fights, obstacles and blissful moments. Most of the time, the couples’ reality TV journeys confirm that they’re made for each other. Other times, they decide to go their separate ways. 

You may be asking: “Alicia, what does this have to do with content marketing?”

I’m glad you asked! Like these newlyweds, content marketers sometimes get stuck wearing rose-colored glasses. We focus so much on the high of doing something new and exciting that we don’t ask the big, hard questions — especially around content format selection. And sometimes, we find that when we act on a whim and take a dive into the deep end, our content falls flat. 

How many times have you heard a peer, co-worker or manager say: “X format is so hot right now, we need to get on that!” Or better yet: “We need to invest X dollars in creating more X content, because that’s what everyone’s doing!”

It’s easy to get caught up in what your competitors or the brands you admire are doing. Just like when you get engaged, your head starts to spin with unsolicited feedback from family/friends, Pinterest boards and bridal magazines. You end up making a bunch of hasty decisions and spending a boatload of money on things you don’t need just to feel like you’re crossing something off your to-do list. 

What if I told you it doesn’t have to be that way? You can be strategic while selecting content formats and still experiment with new tools, platforms and approaches.

The first thing you should do is pause, take a breath and relax. After you calm yourself down, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the goal of the content/campaign?: Are you trying to generate awareness around your brand and its positioning? Are you trying to build your social/blog following? Are you trying to generate more leads? Do you want prospects to contact sales? Start with the end in mind. Figure out what you’re trying to accomplish with your content and which format will help you tell your story and achieve these goals best. If you want to generate social buzz but still educate your buyers about new trends and best practices, an interactive E-book may be a good option. The format allows you to be more detailed and educational, but you can include click-to-tweet functionality so people can easily share callouts and takeaways, and hopefully, get more people to download the E-book.
  • Who are you trying to reach?: This is one of the most important questions you should ask yourself for all of your campaigns and content marketing initiatives. Your buyer should be the core of the entire planning process. When you know your buyer, you also know their challenges, their goals and of course, the best way to communicate with them. Looking at their watering holes, or the sites/sources they use to learn about their industry, you can get an understanding of the types of content that resonates with them. Is Mashable their go-to publication or would they rather dive into The Wall Street Journal? If your buyer prefers more professional and buttoned-up publications, an interactive quiz with animations may not be the best option.
  • What are their content preferences?: There is some great B2B research available that touches on new buyer preferences and content consumption trends. But these trends vary significantly depending on your buyers’ roles and the industries they’re in. Do some research to learn about these nuances either by consulting your personas or interviewing team members in sales or demand gen. Does your target buyer prefer more in-depth research reports and E-books, or do they like more snackable, interactive pieces? Having this insight can help guide your decision-making.
  • What are your messaging points?: Many educational resources provide guidance on which content formats align best with specific stages of the buyer’s journey. Please remember: This is not the be-all, end-all of content marketing. Don’t fall into the trap of only creating infographics for early-stage messaging and long-form assets for later-stage messaging. Instead, ask yourself the following questions: What challenges and pain points do I want to address? Do I want to focus on tips, trends and best practices instead? What stage of the buyer’s journey am I writing for? What content format best aligns with the messaging I want to include? You may find that the best way to present a case study series is through an interactive platform like Ceros. Or you may decide to create a quiz or assessment to validate your buyers’ need for a solution. When you focus first and foremost on your messaging, you will be able to break down boundaries and experiment more with different formats. Who knows, you may learn something new about your buyers!

When you ask yourself these questions, you will be able to make smarter content marketing decisions. Even better: You’ll be able to challenge your current approach and learn whether your content messaging and formats are truly a match made in heaven!

 

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