Build Your Content Marketing Strategy Like the Ark, Not the Titanic
Do the words ‘content strategy’ leave you nervous, hanging your head and thinking “Yeah, I should think about that someday?” Why not today? It’s not out of your reach - as they say, professionals built the Titanic, but an amateur built the Ark. If you follow a few simple precepts, you can build a great content marketing strategy for your company that will withstand the storm. You just need to build your strategy like the Ark, not the Titanic.
Have a Purpose, Don’t Just Float
A content strategy needs a focus, a reason to be. Unlike the Titanic, it’s not a luxury item only for the well-off. The Ark had a specific purpose. Your strategy should be the same. Start off by writing it down. In the Content Marketing Institute’s 2015 B2C Marketing Report, they found that only 27% of B2C marketers have a documented content strategy. Only 33% of those companies found measuring content effectiveness a challenge, compared to 51% of the respondents overall.
As you write your strategy down, think about where you are and where you want to be. In the story of the Ark, Noah knew he needed to weather a heavy storm. As he built the Ark, he knew the exact metrics and specifications that were needed. When you know the exact purpose of your strategy, the specifics will be much easier to determine.
Ditch Hubris and Embrace Humility
The Titanic was supposed to be the ultimate example of human achievement. It was supposed to be the best of everything – the richest, finest, and most indestructible vessel ever made. That hubris resulted in a tragedy of massive proportions. In contrast, Noah’s vision for the Ark was humble. Serve one purpose, and serve it well.
Your customers aren’t interested in how great you are. They don’t want to know how many products you have or how many awards you’ve won. They have needs and fears of their own, and they are only interested in meeting those needs and allaying the fears. When you ditch the “I’m great” hubris and move into “Let me help you” humility, you’ll be well on your way to success in your content strategy.
Plan For Disaster
Noah anticipated that there would be a storm, and the Ark was reinforced and specially sealed to weather it. The Titanic was built on the principle that nothing could go wrong. Of course, it did – and there was no way out. You want your content strategy to be water-tight and ready for anything.
Don’t assume everything will go perfectly. As a famous general said, “No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy.” This doesn’t mean you should assume the strategy will fail. Rather, be ready for unexpected results – a strong influx of customers, angry comments on a blog post, or an employee posting something embarrassing on social media. When you’re ready to deal with contingencies, your plan is disaster-ready.
Control Your Channels
The builders of the Titanic wanted it to be everything that anyone would ever desire. They built in every luxury and every amenity they could think of right from the beginning. If you build your content strategy the same way, trying to be all things to all people immediately, it will surely sink.
In contrast, the Ark was a focused, purposeful vessel that knew its limits. Think about how your plans mesh with your capabilities. How do your social media and blog calendars fit in with your available staff? Are you trying to do too much too soon? Is staff spread too thin? Serve a single purpose well rather than to trying to serve many purposes and doing so poorly.
Build Across Silos
The Titanic was a vessel of privilege which only a certain type of people were allowed to board. The Ark was a vessel of inclusion, allowing two of every animal and saving humanity as well. Unfortunately, too many companies build their content strategy like the Titanic – an exclusive vehicle that only a few have access to.
In these fast-moving integrated times, you can’t afford to have silos in your marketing process. Instead, take a page from Noah and consider including one or two stakeholders from every department involved on your strategy team. Then, everyone will be on the same page and there will be no hurt feelings or hidden icebergs looming to sink your efforts.
When the builders of the Titanic went to work, they followed every rule of shipbuilding as they knew it. They built it to be ‘indestructible’ by known standards. Unfortunately, conventional wisdom didn’t serve them, and the ship was destroyed.
Noah, by contrast, wasn’t following any of the conventional wisdom of his day. He was constantly ridiculed by others, but he focused on his purpose and continued his efforts – and ultimately prevailed. Your content strategy doesn’t have to be like everyone else’s. It should meet the specific needs of your customer base according to the unique positioning and voice of your company. Don’t worry about the haters – stay true to your purpose and your customers will thank you.
Ultimately, ‘You will know a tree by its fruits’ as they say. However, you have to be attuned to what fruit you’re bearing. Your success or failure may not be as dramatic and obvious as the Ark and the Titanic. Once you know your purpose and goals, set up measurement standards that you can use to assess your performance. Whether your metrics are likes, shares, comments, or new leads created, you need to know whether you are sinking or swimming. You don’t want to be like the Titanic and crash on an unknown iceberg because you weren’t aware of your content strategy results.
It’s important to measure your progress over time. A content strategy doesn’t have an ‘end’ the way the voyages of the Titanic and Ark ended. It’s an ongoing, living process that can be tweaked and updated as needed, as long as you know how it’s going.
A content marketing strategy doesn’t have to be mystifying or difficult. With a clear purpose and by following the other precepts listed here, you can create a winning content strategy for your company. If you need help, just contact us – we’d be happy to assist you!
What is your biggest challenge in setting up a content marketing strategy? Let us know in the comments!
Photo Credit: Patrick Lee