This is a guest post by Chris Scavo, Digital Marketing Strategist at Informz. This is the first in a series of posts with great advice about content marketing. Look out for the next posts in the series!
Generating content can be an arduous task. Not only does it need to effectively convey your key message, it must accomplish this efficiently and in a unique way. Plus, there is the dirty little secret that no one tells you – it never stops! Marketing in today’s world presents more challenges than ever before because people expect great content – where they want it and when they need it. Once they read and digest it, they expect more.
The good news is that most associations are content machines. Industry studies, educational resources, governmental developments, advocacy efforts, national and local news, events, the list goes on. The main issue that I come across is that so many marketing plans are inefficient. I don’t mean that they are not well thought-out; it’s quite the opposite. I mean that every content piece is a standalone effort. If you roast a chicken for dinner do you only plan for that chicken to be consumed in one way? Probably not. You think about making a chicken soup, maybe a chicken pot pie, perhaps you even earmark some for a salad. One meal becomes four without even thinking about it. Why should the content you generate be any different?
The concept of creating content pillars is not new, but if you are not currently leveraging this idea then it could be revolutionary for your association. The idea of a content pillar is that you generate one large resource, say an annual industry study, then utilize smaller content elements to support that resource. It can also work the other way by generating several individual content pieces then combine each into one larger, all-encompassing report. As an example, imagine you are releasing a study on your industry. This is a resource that everyone in your audience could benefit from, so you really want to maximize your reach. Initially, this just looks like one content piece. However, if we add in multiple touch points and create content pillars supporting the resource our plan expands exponentially:
Now, what was a standalone effort has become 33 unique content elements across multiple platforms extending the time you have for generating brand engagement, all without creating significantly more work for you or your team.
No matter how you utilize this concept, content pillars can save you hours and make your content life so much easier. Let’s take a closer look at some of the keys that make this such an effective strategy:
Snackable bites – Just like an effective subject line gets people to open email, smaller content pieces can generate interest in a larger resource. People are more mobile in today’s world, which makes it harder to digest longer content. Proper utilization of infographics, blog posts, or social media delivers “quick hit” content that increases your reach exponentially.
Plan Accordingly – One thing I consistently tout is the importance of a marketing calendar. Documenting your messaging plan for not only timing, but channel and audience as well helps to visualize how effective you are being. When thinking about a content pillar strategy, consider when the main content element is being released and how you can best support it. Also, consider how long you want the supporting campaign to run. Should all focused elements be released within one month, or is it suitable to stretch it out a bit more?
Customizable targeting – Marketing as a whole has become uber-personalized. We all want content that is relevant and meets our needs, not just something that generally speaks to the audience. The development of marketing personas is a great way to understand your audience better. They give insight into who your audience is by combining your “head data” (demographics, job title, etc.) with “heart data” (what motivates them, what challenges to they face, what are their needs, etc.). Understanding who, and how, subscribers choose to interact with your content is just as important though. By knowing who is interacting with your content, and in what manner, you gain valuable knowledge that you wouldn’t normally have. If someone downloads a specific resource, then also reads a blog about it or interacts with an infographic then they clearly have an interest in this topic. You now have the ability to follow up with personalized messages linking to related articles or additional content that helps to nurture them along.
Throughout the year your organization generates so much interesting, strong content. Content pillars help you to minimize effort, maximize resources, and increase reach all by leveraging what you already have. That is what I’d call an effective content plan.