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The Four Pillars of Content Strategy

Content Marketing

The Four Pillars of Content Strategy image 4 pillars content 342x600Having a content strategy isn’t just about developing good content. You need to be able to see the value of your content efforts. When thinking about content strategy, you should consider four main pillars:

    • Space – What space do you want to own?
    • Production – How do you make it easy to produce?
    • Repurposing – How do you repurpose it to get the most out of it?
    • Promotion – How do you promote it to maximize its value once it exists?

Pillar #1: Space

The first pillar of content strategy is “Space.” In other words, you must determine what space you want to own as it relates to content. This is different from defining your positioning strategy, and it is also different from determining your value proposition. Positioning and value proposition refer to the solution you offer. However, the “space you want to own” is about the problem(s) your target market faces. You want to be known as a company that is highly knowledgeable about both the problem and its related solutions. You want to provide thought leadership, insights, ideas and education.

The beauty of gaining clarity on this pillar is that it informs both your positioning strategy and your overall marketing plan, and it also defines your SEO strategy.

Think about the problem your potential customer has, and brainstorm how you can provide value through your content; then serve it up to them, thereby “owning that space.”

Pillar #2: Production

You almost certainly have a lot of content available to you. That content is currently locked inside the heads of the smartest people in your company. The trick is to get that content out of their heads; that is called “Production.” Production is the second pillar of your content strategy.

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Sometimes your thought leaders can write clearly, effectively, and engagingly. But most of the time, thought leaders need help with that production. Not only do they need an easy way to get the information out of their heads, but they need someone who can take that information and put it into a compelling and coherent message.

The companies that are most successful at producing excellent content use a “marketing services bureau” approach to pulling that information out of the heads of thought leaders. In your case, the marketing team should play this role.

The key to this production model is to make it extremely easy to get the raw material out, whether that’s through an interview, or by drafting documents, or by creating an outline, etc.

It is then up to the marketing team to take that raw material and use it to create the best first deliverable. After that, it’s time to think about follow-up deliverables; and that is the third pillar.

Pillar #3: Repurposing

If you are engaged in a content strategy, it is very likely that you are so focused on content development that you’ve missed one of the greatest content strategy opportunities – content repurposing. Content repurposing is where you take the raw material discussed earlier and present it in a different way.

For example, when you interview a thought leader, your objective is to create raw material. Frequently, someone already has a specific deliverable in mind for that raw content. It could be a blog post, or a presentation, or an article, but it’s usually only one of those things, rather than all of them. Here is where content repurposing comes into play.

Once you’ve mined that raw material, you should start with the highest value output and go from there. For example, you might be producing the content for a blog post related to a product launch. Marketing can help the thought leader develop the blog post. But the next step is to repurpose that blog post. And that step is imperative.

If it’s a long blog post, it could be repurposed into several smaller blog posts. Create visuals to help tell the story. Why? Because visuals are what create readership and increase sharing. Those visuals, along with the text of the blog post, can be turned into a presentation. That presentation can be turned into a video with voiceover. That video with a voiceover can be turned into a podcast, etc. The possibilities are endless. The point here is that you should put just as much energy into repurposing as you put into creating the original content.

Pillar #4: Promotion

You may feel that producing content is good enough and that once it’s been published, the content will be found. This is a mistake. You need to promote that content and get it seen. Promotion isn’t difficult; it’s the discipline around promotion that is difficult. Using the example of the raw material that turned into a blog post and was then repurposed, here are some ways to think about promoting that content

    • Optimize it for search results.
    • Create compelling visuals so the content is noticed, read, and shared.
    • Tie the content to search results via Google “authorship.”
    • Use social media to tell people it’s available.
    • Publish your material on other (non-owned) properties.
    • Engage with those who curate your content.

The sections below discuss in greater depth some of the concepts in the list above. Of particular importance are the use of social media and engaging with owners of other sites.

Use Social Media

Create a posting cadence across all of your social channels to alert people as your content becomes available. In other words, tweet about it, and post it on Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn more than once. Post at different times of the day, and spread your effort out over days, weeks, and months. Too many people are worried about posting material more than once. Social channels need to be looked at like a waterfall. Once that water has passed, no one is going to see it again, so when your readers revisit the waterfall, you want to present them with material they may have missed before.

Publish on Other Social Properties

Try to get your material published on other (non-owned) social properties. Not only can the deliverable be published, but that thought leadership content could be an enticement to get your thought leader interviewed for a podcast or a webinar or even for a speaking opportunity.

Engage with Those Who Curate Content

Be sure to develop a relationship with the people who curate your content. Don’t just promote the content in front of you. Rather, think of promoting a stream of content that comes from that thought leader and your company. This means that people who curate your content today will pay attention to content you produce in the future. It’s important to acknowledge their curation and create engagement with them.

Approaching your content strategy by leveraging these four pillars will increase the impact of your thought leadership, and help you achieve your marketing goals.

Originally published on Social Media B2B

Comments on this Article: 6

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  1. Ken Rutsky says:

    With respect to your first pillar, Space, to me, this is the biggest mistake most marketers make. They fail to create a context that is relevant, meaningful, and impactful to their customers. They fail to have a VIEWPOINT that matters. Why is this important, well start with the fact that we live in a world of information overload. If you want to explore a framework for creating this space or Viewpoint, you can refer to this series of blogs I just completed… http://kenrutsky.com/why-context-is-king-in-todays-b2b-markets/

    • Glenn Gow says:

      Yes, I agree with you Ken. Many marketers focus on what they’re trying to sell instead of really listening to the pain points of their customers. When you truly understand their needs, you’ll know where to find your audience and how to give them the information they want.

  2. Glenn, thanks for sharing this post. I both agree with your first pillar and what Ken has to say. In regards to both, I would say that it is important to establish the space and area in which information will be shared, and make it as relevant as possible to the customers. A way to address both of these is by use of Q&A platforms in which customers can access the business by asking questions and then receiving answers to their needs. This shows that a business is listening and interested. Yet the hidden benefit of this is that the business can take the questions customers are asking and generate content that markets directly to their curiosities, concerns, and interests. I work with Answerbase, and they have clients that utilize their system exactly for this purpose. A couple other like providers of Q&A tools are Qhub and Shapado.
    Thanks for the pillars/tips Glenn, I will definitely be sharing this on the Answerbase feeds.

  3. Ketan says:

    Great tips Glenn, sure it will be helpful for all who interested in content marketing.

  4. Great infographic and article. Without any of the four pillars your content strategy will lack in success!

  5. Alex says:

    Yep, well you can promote your posts through social media as much as you want but the chances are it will be largely ignored. Unless you’re a celebrity or major brand social media can be an exasperating experience. Simply tweeting with a few hashtags isn’t going to make much difference if you’re a small business with limited customer interaction. You can have the opposite effect, in fact, by annoying the customers you have with your endless social media promotion.

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