Never Become Content with your Content
As we all discover very quickly, content is a voracious beast that is never satisfied. Once you have created the need to feed the Content Beast it can consume your time in ways that contradict all your initial optimistic strategic aims. Sometimes it’s just a case of stepping back from the jaws for a few minutes. And, if you manage that… here are five thoughts to help you avoid indigestion and the acid reflux of repetitive content.
If you view the task of formulating your content as the core responsibility of marketing specialists and/or a ghetto of senior management, it’s time to scale that ivory tower. Putting your best face forward to the world should not be a province of exclusivity. Practice what you signed up to… you remember, the ambition of creating an inclusive, diverse brand.
Everyone has a perspective/responsibility to add to your company’s identity and its wider awareness. To be sustainable and to succeed over the long-term you have to both permeate and listen to every level of your organisation. Those at the coal face have more regular contact with your customers – often on a daily basis. Apart from increasing your employee’s engagement by explicitly valuing their input, you will get a clearer insight on what preoccupies your customers and crucially this often comes without a filter.
Content is everything – Not just content
Resist the temptation to say everything every time like an insecure suitor. All communication that your company puts out into the world, however small, is an opportunity to affirm who you are: your brand values, your heritage, your sector authority, and your humanity – if that’s an essential part of who you are. Even those cold functional documents that are a dutiful chore provide the chance to make a connection, build empathy, create expectation for your brand, and to differentiate – if that’s a key part of your strategy.
A well-explained set of terms and conditions that reflects your brand personality and that is presented with more creative language – rather than the off-the-peg generic formula – can transform somebody’s day. All those mundane points of potential customer contact, from bills, to regulation emails, to the information buttons that indicate areas that only the ‘dedicated’ scroll down to read are ripe for a messaging in unexpected places approach.
Speed is not everything
The internet is quick, isn’t it? People scan with fleeting engagement, don’t they? Your content is old almost as soon as you put it up, right? Speed may be of the essence but that doesn’t mean you should give yourself a burden you can’t maintain. Is your target audience always reading LinkedIn posts at ten past two on a Tuesday afternoon? Or is it an online myth, or the self-fulfilling prophecy of a web guru? You decide.
Better that your content is about much more than expediency. Avoid the diminishing of quality that inevitably comes from a dominance of the numbers game, however much you think it will not happen to you. Be realistic about what you can do, and what actually works for you and your resources. Aim to talk to people, not to schedules – which are only there as a means to enable the former in any case. Always balance workload with content creativity and factor all with reference to your short, mid and long-term aims.
Stay interested and interesting
Words like arbitrary, perfunctory, token and obligatory might get the writers in your marketing team excited but they should have no place in your content strategy. Let these define your content schedule and your readers will be checking out the online thesaurus for words like relentless, regurgitation, and monotonous. No one thrives for ever on the same diet, or for that matter the same messaging expectation. Don’t let the speed of the designated channel blind you to the long haul that lies ahead. Just being there is at best a statement of intent. It’s not anywhere near achieving the expression of your strategic manifesto, let alone evidence of a winning campaign.
Keep evolving that tone
Tone? Again?! Are you mad?! This is sometimes the hardest thing to nail and will probably have given you one of your biggest headaches. Some people never get tone. Some confuse tone with style; some are in no doubt that style is the servant of tone; while some consider style defines tone. Arriving at any sort of consensus creates a big sigh of relief, with the result that tone is hurried off the agenda to a future set in stone.
Whether your company’s tone is formal or friendly, maintaining continuity is a difficult balancing act that can never be taken for granted. Start-ups grow up, established companies diversify and the really mature can merge or acquire a whole new identity. Always stay responsive to changes and accept that flexibility is involved. That means being prepared to relax the brand discipline and – deep breath – to revisit tone from time to time and ensure your content is equally responsive to your aims, customers and circumstance.
Michael White is the Head of Copy in Mulberry’s London office and has many years of experience writing and editing short- and long-form content for B2B and B2C audiences.