There is no such thing as one size fits all

If there is no method in the madness, what is the point then?

Text, audio, video, pictures, infographics are all forms of content. But the actual content is the message.

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where -“ said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

– –       Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1865)

This famous conversation between Alice and the Cheshire Cat, of course, is from a work of fiction. A very famous one, nevertheless fiction. But a century and a half after Carroll wrote those famous lines, they continue to serve as a reliable guidepost that is abstract enough to fit any situation that involves decision making, including the big question – “What should be my content strategy?”

The simplest answer would be, “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.” Or an answer in the guise of a question – What’s your endgame?

Just like individuals, no two organizations are the same.  Even two companies in the same business are unique, at least from a communication standpoint.

But first, let’s be clear about what content is. Text, audio, video, pictures, infographics are all forms of content. But the actual content is the message.

In the correct order of questions that will shape the content strategy, what we hope to achieve by creating any content must be addressed before all else.  So, the real question and perhaps the most pertinent one is – what’s the end-game.

Once this question is answered honestly and as clearly as possible, the target group to whom the content is served must be defined.

So, in a hypothetical situation where content is created to boost sales, the questions and answers can go like this.  The answers are only suggestions.

  1. What is the endgame?  Increase sales by 25% this financial year.
  2. How do we plan to do this? a) Sell more to existing customers or b) Create fresh leads or new customers.
  3. What is my target group? Existing customers or new customers with turnover between $100-500 Million.
  4. What am I going to say or what’s the big message? Product differentiator.
  5. What form? Blog, video, infographic.

Content Calendar

The timing of the content is important too. In that sense, content can be broadly divided into two categories – planned and ad hoc. Content generated to coincide with important dates like say International Women’s Day or Independence Day fall under the first category. Generating content to capture new developments (say new technology) or a commentary on new policy announced by the government will be ad hoc.

Like all other activities, content also requires an annual plan that is further broken into smaller parts like quarterly, monthly and weekly. Meticulous planning gives better control and more importantly consistency and predictability. Rain or shine, we like to have our newspapers in the morning, right? Dependability fosters loyalty.

The final aspect of the content strategy is about the softer aspects of language, tone etc. The overarching tone of the content can vary from situation to situation, but in the larger scheme of things, it is better to stick to a style and tone that also defines the relationship between the content producer and the consumer.

A good content strategy will always be work in progress. To mold it into a powerful tool, regular audit is essential. Defining the objective or endgame at the start of the process and measuring the outcome of content served against the objective will continue to refine the content strategy. In course of time, what works and what does not, will start to emerge and define the final contours of the content strategy.

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