How to Make Your Content More Strategic in 5 Easy Steps
Developing Strategic Content
Whether it’s your sales brochure, website or a face-to-face conversation, the language you use to describe your products or services must be clear, concise and targeted to the buyer. A strategic approach to your content is your best bet to differentiate in the marketplace and inspire buyers to engage.
At B63 Line, we help clients uncover messaging platforms that contain the three to five core messages that will become the communication “bridge posts,” strung together later by headlines and technical content. As the bridge posts continue to get used over time, customers begin to associate their messages with your deliverables. In essence, they become your brand voice.
Developing your strategic content isn’t hard, but it does take a concerted effort to make sure key stakeholders are heard and have bought into the effort. After all, they’re the ones who will be broadcasting out to your constituents. With a little elbow grease and a dash of creativity, here’s how you can get strategic in five easy steps.
Step 1: Gather Stakeholders.
Surround yourself with key stakeholders who understand your business through and through. This should include the owners, president, VPs, board members and in some cases trusted customers. Begin by agreeing with and committing to a clear mission and overall company objectives, philosophies and beliefs. Use their understanding and experience to brainstorm together the following steps.
Step 2: Identify Functional Rewards.
What are the functional rewards your customers expect and get from you? For example, a car buyer’s functional rewards might be transportation, safety, reliability, etc. Identify your company’s unique capabilities. How are you different from your competitors? Why do your best customers keep coming back to you? Develop a list of answers to these sorts of questions and see where the group seems to agree the most and which words have the highest frequency.
Answers must be honest reflections of the organization itself and they must be believable. This requires revealing genuine organizational values and true core attributes, which are really only known to your key stake holders. Hence, effective messages are not created, rather values and beliefs are “uncovered” during this session and the messages later refined as part of the development process.
Step 3: Identify Emotional Rewards.
Now begin to outline the emotional rewards for engaging with you company. For that car buyer, emotional rewards might be fun, pride, respect, attention grabbing, etc. Develop lists of your features, benefits, advantages, improvements and such. What don’t your customers know about you? What do they value most? What is your staff passionate about? Again, develop a list of answers to these sorts of questions and see where consensus exists.
Step 4: Identify Key Words.
Here’s where the heavy lifting begins. Merge your word lists and prioritize them by frequency and team selection. Eliminate duplicates and begin to organize into buckets which answer, Why we exist, What we do, Who we are, and Why you should care. Then combine the words and themes into brief sentences that are about four words long.
Remember, effective messages are inspirational in nature while clarifying what’s in it for your buyers. An example series of statements we like to give is, Eleven herbs and spices, It’s finger-licking good, The colonel’s own recipe and We do chicken right. Four statements that are about four words long … 4×4.
Step 5: Have Everyone Integrate!
Once your “bridge post” statements are refined and agreed upon, it’s time to begin integrating them. The main keys to messaging success are that the messages are fully adopted by the entire executive team and staff, they are fully integrated across all mediums and they are used with unwavering consistency. Over time, they will become the brand voice which prospects will know to be true about your organization at not just a functional level, but an emotional level.
After your strategic messages have been developed, they can be used individually or collectively, as space permits. Phone greetings have room for one; Web sites have room for all of them plus any supporting statements. Be diligent in your development effort and consistent in your application and the rest of your content will fall in line.
B63 Line supports efforts like this on a regular basis and can help you move people to action.