Content Manifesto: Our Guide to Winning the Internet
Content Manifesto: Our Guide to Winning the Internet
If you'd rather, we can read this to you.
As promised in our first post, our Content Manifesto is published and available below. But before you check it out I want to tell you a bit about our process and why we think it's so important. To tackle the latter I need to explain what content marketing means to us.
Why All the Hoopla Over Content Marketing
I want to talk for a brief minute about content marketing and why it’s the best thing since
individual mac’n’cheese packets sliced bread. The Content Marketing Institute gives us a generally accepted definition.
What’s the Problem
Overall I agree, but I do take issue a little with the word technique. It suggests there are other ways to approach marketing, but content isn't just blogs. Content is everything you put out. It’s graphics. It’s video. It’s any and everything that prospects can digest, and ultimately every prospect has to go through some content before they become a customer.
But some say, “general content informing prospects about your business doesn’t fit into the category of “valuable” content.”
I argue that if it doesn’t, you’re doing it wrong.
Perhaps I’m splitting hairs a little, but I think the best marketing is that which shows value before money is exchanged. Because I think it’s the best marketing, I think it should be the only marketing. Not to say there aren’t other things you can do to market your company such as ad buying, email marketing, etc., but I would argue that THOSE things are just techniques to get prospects to engage your content.
*Stepping off soap box.*
What Is a Content Manifesto?
It’s a guide really. Because we think all roads lead back to content, it’s crucial it’s done right. Content is such a broad term that it’s important that you narrow down what content means to your company. When you say “we are going to create great content” what does that entail?
In order to answer that question for ourselves and for any team members we developed our Content Manifesto. This is how we did it.
We started first with our company’s objectives. What do we want to accomplish? We have several goals:
- Be a consistent marketing resource for SMBS
- Give back to our community
- Be an industry leader
- Support our team internally
Just to name a few.
It’s important to note that these goals are not a checkpoint we cross but rather a bar we are striving to meet. The hope is to accomplish these objectives continually as we produce content.
Ok, after setting our contents objective, we asked ourselves, “What does our content need to accomplish in order to meet those objectives?”.
We fussed around with this a bit. It seemed to reach those objectives our content needed to accomplish different things. While this was true, and it is not our purpose to accomplish more than one of the objectives at a time, we still felt like there had to be one common thread. A rally cry for our content that superseded the specifics.
This was actually a big hurdle for us and after a dozen or so coffees and staring ghost faced at a blank screen for a bit, it occurred to us that all of our content is meant to encourage and give people the knowledge and tools they need to accomplish their own goals.
Our content needs to empower.
*Celebratory dance, order more coffee, moving on.*
Who Do We Think We're Talking To?
Obviously, based on our objectives, we have several audiences. To accomplish our first goal we need to be speaking to decision makers at small businesses. For our second and third goal we need to be in front of community leaders and industry leaders. Finally, to achieve our last goal, we need to create content for our own team.
So now we know:
- What we want to accomplish.
- What our content needs to be.
- Who we are talking to.
With these three things in place we can start shaping our content.
Breaking Down Our Audience
Now we went through each of our audiences, Customers, Industry, Community, Internal, and we determined what we could offer of value.
For the first group, which is also our biggest audience, we determined their pain-points. By figuring out what they are struggling with, we could see where we could be the solution. We broke that into content “buckets”. Each bucket addressing a pain-point where we might be able to help.
So now we have guidelines for topics. It makes answering the question, “What am I going to write about this week” a little easier because I have pretty specific guidelines.
The process was similar for our other three audiences.
For Industry, the question was “What are we experts at?”
For Community, "Where can we impact positive change?"
For Internal, "What do our team members need to thrive?"
After answering all these questions, we had content buckets for all our audiences.
Now it’s just a matter of spelling it all out. Anytime someone new is welcomed to the team we have a document we can give them to guide anything they produce.
What a Content Manifesto Is and Isn’t.
It’s not a standard operating procedure. It is not meant to put everyone in a box and dictate what content they can and can not create.
It’s a living breathing document. While the core principles we established will remain constant, there may be tweaks as we grow. It is meant to express the value we place on content and what it can accomplish. It is meant to empower.
Give it a Go
Our method is by no means the only path but we recommend giving some version of it a whirl. It can be a great exercise for organizing your own thoughts, motivating your team, and it can help pave the way for a killer content strategy.
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