When it comes to content, many businesses seem be falling into the “more is more” trap. Research by the CMI suggests that 88% of UK marketers plan to produce more content this year, but only 3% rate their current activity as ‘very effective’.
Content has been heralded as the saviour of marketing and the answer to increasing scepticism about traditional methods, but in their enthusiasm to take advantage of this technique, some companies have forgotten the first principle of content marketing, which is to deliver value.
Only 3% of marketers rate their current content activity as ‘very effective’
Find the big idea
Content marketing shouldn’t be about churning out collateral or getting in front of your target audience at all costs. It’s about understanding what your stakeholders need and how you can deliver that information in the right way at the right time. If you think that sounds time consuming then you’d be right. An effective content strategy is built on comprehensive research and detailed insights about the mind-set and requirements of the people you’re trying to reach. It’s not something that can, or should, be rushed.
Rather than engaging in a never-ending hunt for new topics and angles, it is far more effective to identity one subject or theme that really resonates with your chosen stakeholders. More often than not, that will involve helping them solve a problem, do something more efficiently or try something new.
Content marketing shouldn’t be about churning out collateral
Why you should shatter your content
Once you’ve found that big idea, the next job is to work out what kind of content to produce. This is where many companies miss out on opportunities. One great idea shouldn’t lead to one great piece of content; it should be the foundation for many pieces of great content. This approach goes by several names. Some call it the hub and spoke model; others call it content repurposing or content shattering. Whatever name you prefer, the objective is exactly the same: to create a portfolio of materials that work together to deliver the key information in different ways.
You don’t need me to tell you that your customers or clients are not homogenous. You may have identified a big issue that affects a large number of people, but the way they approach that issue will be entirely different. Some will have only recently realised that it’s something they need to consider, while others will be further along in the thought process and may have already done a significant amount of research. That will affect the level at which they engage with the topic and the search terms they use.
Similarly, the way in which people hunt for and consume information varies greatly. While Google is a common starting point, where people go from there will depend on their habits and preferences. Some will err towards text-based content while others prefer videos or podcasts.
So far we’ve only spoken about the section of your target audience who are actively looking for information, but there are just as many who unexpectedly come across useful content. That could be through their daily social media activity, reading blogs or visiting industry news sites.
What this illustrates is that there is no one-size-fits-all piece of content. What works well on one channel for one group of people may not work on a different channel for a different audience. Yet, all too often, companies inadvertently limit the potential of their ideas by only creating one or two pieces of related content.
A topic that’s strong enough to form the basis of an ebook, for example, can almost certainly be turned into a blog, a Slideshare, an infographic, a podcast, a video or, even better, all of the above. If you have limited time or resources then that activity can be spread out over the course of several months, evolving over time to highlight fresh angles or link to recent news and industry trends. Each of those pieces of content can be distributed across varying channels to reach a slightly different audience each time, all of which can be measured and adapted as you go along.
An ebook can almost certainly be turned into a blog, a Slideshare, an infographic, a podcast or a video
How we’ve done it at Southerly
This “one into many” approach isn’t just something we recommend to clients; it’s how we approach our activity. We know from speaking to clients and our own research that recruitment content marketing is a hot topic. It’s something that a lot of companies know they should be doing, or are doing at a certain level, but they are keen for information and guidance on doing so more effectively. We knew we could offer useful advice in that area, so we created a plan containing multiple pieces of content over an extended period of time that focus on this one core topic.
Since the end of last year we have conducted research among UK HR professionals that we turned into a downloadable report and a Slideshare. We promoted those pieces of content through social media, and we also stepped outside the realms of content marketing to undertake media relations, which saw our findings reported in a number of high profile industry titles. We’ve run workshops and webinars for clients and prospects around various themes within the broader topic of recruitment content marketing.
Then we decided to up the stakes by organising a panel discussion where we debated the future of recruitment marketing and employer branding in the context of what that means for traditional recruiters. In amongst all of this, we’ve written several blogs discussing the various elements of this campaign, and we’re now in the process of planning what comes next. By taking this approach, we have been able to make the most of one key idea and have interesting and productive conversations with a diverse range of people that we may not otherwise have had the chance to meet.
I hope this has shown the value of identifying those topics that really resonate with your audience, and maximising your best ideas by creating multiple pieces of content around that one topic. I know from my own experience that this approach delivers results and is one way to step off the content marketing hamster wheel that so many companies have found themselves on.