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Digital Content Strategy Framework Drives a Digital Content Marketing Plan

Organizations can fuel their go-to-market strategy by developing a Digital Content Strategy Framework to drive their Digital Content Marketing Plan.

Digital Content Strategy Framework - Digital Content Marketing Plan - Unique Selling PropositionBest-in-class organization create a Digital Content Marketing Plan that documents the market category and specific use cases that benefit most from the solution offered before jumping into content creation.  A digital content strategy framework cascades down from the organization’s unique selling proposition (the promise to the market that is perceived to be of value by the target audience).

The Importance of the Unique Selling Proposition

The Unique Selling Proposition provides the organization with “umbrella messaging.”  The Unique Selling Proposition is relatively straight-forward when an organization has one product, one market and operates in one geography.  However, as the number of solutions, markets and geographies expand, the Unique Selling Proposition needs supporting messaging in order to resonate with the target audience.  One approach to ensure the development of messaging that is relevant to the target audience is to construct personas, buyer behavior models and journey boards.

Digital Content Marketing Plan – Value Drivers

Value Drivers serve as the bridge from the customer’s business problem to the vendor’s solution.  While value drivers support the unique selling proposition, they are created specifically for each influential persona within the customer’s buying process.  To be most effective, value drivers should be tied to a customer’s organizational objectives as well to the specific objectives of the functional group. And, they should include the tangible and quantifiable outcomes that drive value for a customer.

Digital Content Marketing Plan – Differentiators

Differentiators, probably the most critical step in the process, are really difficult to document and communicate.  But it is critical they be understood and valued by the target audience. Note that differentiators are not a list of features and functions for a technical audience.  On the contrary, differentiators are most powerful when they are unique to a vendor, however, comparative and holistic differentiators are important too.  The goal is to set the buying agenda so that the differentiators become the foundation for the purchase decision – i.e. when it comes time for the “bake-off” the choice is clear as there is clear separation between your organization and any competitor.

Digital Content Marketing Plan – Content Messaging Map

Digital Content Strategy Framework - Digital Content Marketing Plan - Content Messaging MapNow that the unique selling proposition, value drivers and differentiators have been clearly defined, the next step is to determine who should communicate the messages.  To do this, a best practice to managing the content marketing plan is to construct a Content Messaging Map.  The horizontal axis of a Content Messaging Map summarizes the messages and the vertical axis identifies who will deliver the message and in what format.  While the image to the left has been constructed to illustrate one quarter (90 days), it is a good idea to build out an entire year.

The Content Messaging Map is a great visual to quickly represent what messages will be communicated and by whom.  Color-coding the individual cells adds another dimension to the Content Messaging Map which highlights the asset types to leverage in order to successfully package and communicate the messages.  The goal is not to have an even or symmetrical looking chart.  Depending upon the theme or focus for a quarter, the chart may be nonsymmetrical as resources to drive content are aligned to support a key initiative.

The Best Laid Digital Content Marketing Plan

One issue often raised by the Digital Content Marketing Plan owner or project manager is ensuring that the right people are involved. Sometimes there are a number of individuals who are critical to the creation or delivery of content but they are not direct reports — and some that are not even employees of the company.  This is precisely why the first step should of any content marketing effort should be to develop a Content Marketing Strategy Framework as it should involve executive sponsorship.  Without executive involvement, the fate of the effort will rest solely on either how well the Digital Content Marketing Plan owner is liked or how passionate the contributors’ are towards the solution. Because these variables typically change over time and are impacted by workload, it’s best if both of the aforementioned conditions exist but a successful Digital Content Marketing Plan will have more. Specifically, here are a few other tips to help ensure the success of the Digital Content Marketing Plan:

  • Obtain executive level sponsorship
  • Assign an owner of the plan who is a great project manager
  • Articulate clear roles and responsibilities
  • Hold regularly scheduled weekly meetings with agendas and follow-up meeting minutes
  • For each contributor, establish MBO’s that relate to content creation, distribution and promotion
  • Hold monthly summary reviews supported and attended by the executive sponsor
  • Recognize the content contributors
  • Provide media training
  • Offer graphical and editorial support
  • Communicate and manage each contributors’ project timelines

Creating content is not easy. If it was, everyone would do it.  However, there are ways to facilitate the process and set people up for success.  For example, for those contributors that “do not have time” here are a few solutions:

  1. Have a contributor record him or herself via an app on their phone, have it transcribed and then refine it by holding a review session.
  2. Record or video a presentation in which the contributor is addressing the topic and leverage the content.
  3. Schedule a time to ask the contributor specific questions that correlate to the key messages and record, then transcribe this conversation.
  4. Create a compelling event for the contributor to deliver content by scheduling a webcast, speaking opportunity or interview.

Ideally, start with video and then repurpose it into podcasts, presentations, white papers, web pages, blog posts, comments, etc.  While the contributor is responsible for providing content, the Content Marketing Plan owner should be focused on how to facilitate extracting that content and how to best leverage that content for maximum impact.

Setting Contributors Up for Success

It is crucial to train contributors on the best practices used to effectively communicate about the market, technology, company, competitors, solution, customers and partners.  While a contributor may be a subject matter expert, he or she may not be a seasoned communicator. So it’s imperative that everyone in a communications role use one voice to support the unique selling proposition, value drivers and differentiators, in order to reinforce the brand.

Contributors who appear in face-to-face settings with external audiences need to speak knowledgeably about market trends, issues, opportunities, threats, use cases, customers etc. But they also must be good storytellers.  A contributor has to understand the audience and the forum, and deliver the right content in the right format to drive engagement.  Contributors can be trained to state talking points and data relevant to the topic at hand, but their primary value is to inject insights and “lead to” as oppose to “lead with.”  Einstein said it best when he commented that, “ If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”  It also helps to add a human element and some emotional appeal when storytelling.

Media training is a great investment for contributors who will deliver “live” performances.  The spectrum for media training is quite grand, but a basic media training session should focus on how to:

  • Establish key messages
  • Effectively deliver messages
  • Stay on message
  • Create concise, quotable sound bites
  • Manage different interview situations
  • Avoid common interview pitfalls
  • Build confidence and comfort to come across as credible
  • Extend (also), postpone (but first) and avoid (but I can tell you)

Contributors are the backbone of any Digital Content Marketing Plan.  It is critical to identify them, engage them, train them, support them and reward them to have a successful, sustained program.  Creating a Digital Content Marketing Strategy Framework, a Content Marketing Plan and supporting the contributors is a requirement for an effective go-to-market strategy.

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