Part of a ten part series. Breaking down great content rules from top businesses around the world.
As the title clearly suggests, this is the third part in a series.
In part 1 of the series, we talked about the need businesses have to produce great content as a part of their marketing effort. And we listed down some basic rules you can adhere to if you want to emulate the success of top marketers and businesses globally.
In part 2, we dealt with the first item in the actual list (a list we detailed out in part 1 — which was an intro to the series). This part focussed on emphasizing the strength good storytelling holds for a business, and laid out some ground rules on how you can go about storytelling in a way that gives that much needed boost to your brand.
If you haven’t checked out the first two instalments of the series, here are the links to the relevant stories we just described:
Part of a ten part series. Breaking down great content rules from top businesses around the world.hackernoon.com
Also, here is the complete list:
Now that we have covered #1 on the list, today we move on to #2. What do you do now?
An entrepreneur is always prioritising. Do you put off a product release because you need to free up some tech bandwidth for the marketing team or do you put off on marketing because the feature you are planning to roll out in the new release takes precedence?
Decisions, decisions, decisions. One would wonder how does the CEO of a big company get anything done? A few years back, when Facebook kept on delaying its initial public offering, many people were wondering why is Zuck doing so, and he had offered a very clear explanation — to ensure that the focus of his employees and him was there on the product releases they considered important.
Marketers are no different. The easiest decision that comes by a marketer desk is when he has to choose between a good idea and a bad idea — you can simply say yes to one and no to the other. But what do you do when you are presented with two good ideas, but they go together as well as water and oil. You obviously can’t put them both out at the same time, it would be a disaster as far as setting a tone and context of the conversation goes. And even if they weren’t your oil/water duo, you may still need to pick one for the sheer lack of the bandwidth. So how do you decide what to choose? And how do you ensure that the one that gets left behind doesn’t fade away into obscurity?
Btw, that was me oversimplifying things by taking the example of having to pick from just 2 ideas/action-items. It would be more like 10 — if you are lucky!
MAKE A CONTENT CALENDAR, AND THEN ALTER IT A BIT
This is one of the most basic things that anyone advising you on content marketing will tell you — make a content marketing calendar. You absolutely need to have a content marketing calendar. It helps you stay focussed and ensure a consistent flow of content. But it can also help you prioritise stuff. All you need to do is add a content marketing shortlisting board on top of your content marketing calendar. Something that looks like this:
You can make this on an excel the way I do, or you can do it even on a whiteboard or even a bulletin board (which coincidentally is also something that I do; the excel is for my personal consumption, the board for the whole team). If you are feeling particularly adventurous, you can add one more segment to this board — ideas that give an impression that they should work, and are aligned to the business, but as far as you buying into their relevance/value is concerned, you are not 100% convinced.
This helps in a couple of ways. First of all, you won’t feel compelled to push out a content you are not 100% sure about since you know you will do so when the right time comes. Second, it could help fill up those drought scenarios where you can’t come up with any great content ideas. Just pick one ‘post it note’ up from the good segment of the board and you are good to go.
I am a bit traditional, and if I am being completely honest, I just like playing around with post-it notes. But you can use systems like Trello and Asana for this purpose just as well.
So that helps you with part of the problem. But we still haven’t quite addressed how do we prioritise stuff, have we? So, let us do that now!
WHAT ARE YOUR BUSINESS OBJECTIVES AT THIS STAGE? AND WHAT RESULTS ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
In one of my older stories, I have talked about some aspects of it. So I won’t go into the details here, but here is the gist:
Your marketing goals need to be (1) Specific, (2) Measurable, (3) Attainable, (4) Relevant, and (5) Time-bound.
Any item that passes by your plate should be evaluated on these parameters and given a priority score. And then you can just arrange stuff on the board going by their overall score. Be as unbiased as possible, and remember that data doesn’t lie.
For example, let us consider a scenario wherein the objective of the business is to make as many consumers as possible aware of their existence.
So naturally the question comes in how. Are you going the digital ads route, or are you trying to reach out to your audience organically and via social media. In most of the cases here (when you are trying to increase awareness), you want your content to have a shareability quotient. (That is essentially what people mean when they talk about their desire to make their content go viral.)
So, your business goal was to increase brand awareness → That led you down the goal that your content needs to have a shareability quotient → This is what your content needs to hold water on now! Anything that isn’t upto the mark doesn’t make the cut.
WHAT’S THE GRAND PLAN? AND IF WHAT YOU ARE DOING HELPS WITH IT?
It helps to have a grand plan and always, always keep it at the front and center of your mind. If you need to, get it printed in bold, big letters, highlight it in the fanciest colors and put it up at a place that you can look at every single hour of every single day.
The best example I have always found — of having a grand plan/objective — is that of JFK during the Moon-race era.
Now that is a goal : Landing a man on the Moon, and returning him safely to Earth.
If you look at the most notable companies on this planet, you will find they all started with a grand objective, and failing that, had a grand objective at some stage of their existence.
- Microsoft’s : A computer on every desk and in every home. ✔
- Google’s : Organize the world’s information, and make it universally accessible and useful ✔
- SpaceX : Enable human exploration and settlement of Mars
Only SpaceX is still on the journey to achieve this objective; the two others clearly managed to do what they aspired to do. And everything SpaceX has been doing currently is inching it towards that objective.
So have a clear objective — one that’s audacious, grand and fills you up with excitement. Now, getting back to the statement by JFK, there was more to that statement, and it is the next part that comes in handy for the purpose of our narrative here.
…But there is no sense in agreeing or desiring that the United States take an affirmative position in outer space, unless we are prepared to do the work and bear the burdens to make it successful….
And that is exactly what will help you with prioritising your task list. The item in front of you right now — is it helping you with the grand design?
BUT IT IS NOT AN IDEAL WORLD
All that we have just talked about seems great on paper, and should make a lot of sense as well. But the fact is we don’t live in an ideal world. So, no matter how much you want or try, you won’t be able to always land in a scenario where you are able to (or even in a position to) pick up just one task at a time. So, you will need to learn to juggle multiple items at the same time. But even in those scenarios, prioritisation would always be necessary and absolutely critical. Having said that, we would be talking about juggling multiple balls at the same time. Unfortunately, for that particular topic, you will have to wait till part 9 of the series.
In the next part of this series, we would be talking about strategic alliances, and how do they fit in the world of content marketing!
Till next time then!
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