Communications & Content Strategy
What is it and why is it important?
Often when we’re asked for a communications strategy, the client does not have the broader strategy inputs. Before embarking on a communications and content strategy, you should know:
- Commercial and brand objectives
- Target market, positioning or value proposition and key messages
- The role of communications for your brand, employer brand or value proposition within the total picture of what you’re doing
- For brand and marketing, product development, pricing, distribution, customer experience etc
- For employer brand, policies and procedures, P&C initiatives, employee experience etc
- Level of investment, split between brand-building and sales-activation or recruitment drive
- Audience segments, goals and journey map translated to marketing & sales funnel
Within this strategic context, your communications strategy then has the following elements:
- The communications objective expressing your aspirational positioning to the target market
- Investment ratio of brand-building to acquisition-drive and rationale
- Overarching strategy for owned, earned and paid media
- Communications mix and role of each medium through the journey / marketing & sales funnel
- Messaging matrix with key messages by media through the journey
This is often completed at a high level as part of the brand, marketing and employer brand planning process, and at a more detailed, audience segment level when communications planning.
The key to successful communication strategies is understanding your objectives, who you are talking to and what will motivate them to do or say what you want to achieve those objectives.
Then it’s making sure whatever you promise in your communications, you can and do deliver against. This is where aligning people across the business, brands, communications and experiences is critical to building trust and long-term valuable relationships.
A large part of setting communication strategies up for success is establishing long- and short-term KPIS to measure performance against objectives and provide a mechanism to evolve tactics first, then review strategies, whilst also revisiting the objectives you set in the first place to understand if they were realistic given all the variables. Did you invest enough? Was the creative and media/touch-points effective?
How we go about it
- What are your commercial objectives, audience goals and marketing strategies (building awareness and salience, driving sales, increasing community engagement etc)?
- Who are you talking to? (one audience or different segments/cohorts)
- What do they value as a person and need in relation to your category and offer? What are their unmet needs/pain points?
- What do you have to engage them that is valuable to them? (your proposition)
- What do they currently think/feel/do?
- What do you them to think/feel/do?
- What can you say and do to convince/encourage/motivate them to change their perception and behaviour?
- How are they making decisions to do what you want them to do? (across their journey and influences along the way)
- What media/touchpoints are best to influence them at various stages of their decision-making journey, appropriate to the way they are using that media/touchpoints and how they’re feeling at that point in time
- What messages (visual and verbal) will you communicate to which audience via which media/touchpoints at what stage in the journey?
Within your communications strategy, you will have defined the role of content – videos, photographs, blog posts, articles, webinars, research and whitepapers – that your organisation publishes and distributes through owned, earned or paid channels, predominantly in the digital arena. As such, content strategy and SEO strategy work hand-in-hand.
Content can work to position your brand, drive awareness and interest in your offer, organically raise the search position of your website, drive traffic to the website for more information, drive leads for sales or job applications, drive engagement and build community.
Many organisations now develop content in-house and primarily need external help in developing the content strategy and prioritising activities into a plan. This is where we focus our services.
When we are developing brand or employer brand positioning strategies for smaller businesses where owned and earned content plays a large role in their overall brand and marketing strategy, we develop content pillars as part of the positioning model.
For example, with Sumo Salad, the three key proof points underpinning their “fuelling greatness” positioning were taste-great food, feel-great fun experiences and new ways to achieve greatness. These became the three content pillars: showing great food; fun in-store experiences; and ideas to improve your physical, social, mental, financial wellbeing that help you achieve greatness in your life.
How we go about it
The same questions need to be asked of content strategy as they do of communications strategy if its standalone, but assuming you’ve developed the communications strategy already.
- What are your core content pillars that support the business, brand, employer brand or value proposition?
- Who are you talking to? (one audience or different segments)
- What are you trying to achieve with each audience? (marketing strategies across the funnel – positioning the brand, building awareness and salience, driving sales leads, driving traffic etc)
- What are you talking to them about and what do you have that’s of value to them for each stage of the funnel (audience value proposition and key messages, types of content)?
- How do you amplify your content? Where are you talking to them through each stage of the funnel and what is the best way to talk to them in that environment? What specific keywords do you need to embed in your messages?
- How do the messages all join up across the journey/through the funnel to achieve your immediate and long-term objectives?
As part of the strategy process, we will help you prioritise the key activities for each period, depending on your level of investment and available resource. The priorities per period will become the plan.
This is an iterative process throughout strategy development to ensure that objectives are realistic and marketing strategies are phased.
For example, you may want to build awareness and drive sales all within a year, so instead of trying to do both at the same time, we might look at building awareness for a few weeks and then driving sales. Or you might have one employee segment who is aware of your employer brand so when they see your recruitment ads, they immediately apply. But you really want to attract a new employee segment to your organisation. You would then focus resources on building awareness and salience amongst the new audience.
These inputs will lead to creative ideation and development. It is good practice to involve creative through the process as ideas will help guide the strategy. Whilst there would be one creative brief and platform for your communications and/or content strategy, we develop creative platforms for each proposition as it helps to nail the message.
For example, if you have 3 services and 6 products, each of those would have a creative platform from which you develop the key creative, from which you tailor the messaging to the audience and point in the journey/funnel.
Refer to the section on creative platform and brief for further information.
The management of communications and content will need to be integrated into your strategy and plans. Here are a few key considerations:
- agency selection and management
- content management system, people and process
- database management, data privacy and permissions
- CEO, organisation expert & employee advocacy and social media policy
Our experience in this area
Our managing director, Rachel Bevans, has years of experience on client-side with Unilever, Glenfiddich Single Malt Whisky, news.com.au, Westpac and Wella Hair Care; and consulting with WSP Engineering (Radley Yeldar) and Ballantine’s Whisky (Dragon).
Over the last nine years, we have developed the communications and/or content strategy for Australian Fitness Network, Larktale, Mineler, Citygreen, SUMO Salad, Ryvita (with The Hallway), Geoscience Australia and Herbert Smith Freehills (with Folk).
How can we help you?
Please contact us to discuss further what we can do for you.