Why You Should Use a Content Rationale Report

Little is the new big.

On today’s Web, buying decisions are influenced less by the grand, sweeping programs that take old marketing and put a fresh coat of social paint on them. On today’s Web, buying decisions are influenced more by specific, hyper-relevant pieces of content that your brand creates to get in front of potential purchasers at the contextually-perfect time and place.

As search becomes ever more interconnected, and websites begin to routinely change dynamically based on your search and browser history, your ability to create and optimize individualized pieces of content (blog post, photo, video, tweet, status update, podcast, PDF, presentation) reaches critical importance. If someone is looking for “chocolate ice cream” you need to have content pieces to show up on that radar. If someone is looking for “ice cream sandwiches” you have to cover that base – as well as possibly hundres of other keyword combinations.

There are two strategic ramifications for this new era of content marketing.

First, elaborate but narrow ideas and executions need to take a back seat to simpler but widespread initiatives. One podcast with very high production values is less important than ten podcasts (about different topics) with reduced production values. (There is of course a limit to this logic. Crap is still crap). Also, if you are a larger, well-known brand that relies less upon prospective customers finding you via search or discovering you via social chatter, this principle of breadth trumping depth is not as iron-clad. But, it’s still important. Sure, people probably know how to find Toyota online. But, shouldn’t they also be using content marketing to be in the debate around vehicle safety, reliability, ethics, and an array of other topics?

Second, if you’re going to commit to creating content to fit a large number of customer queries, you can’t waste bullets. You cannot just show up to the party and create your 10 podcasts, and not think about what keywords apply, what the psychology of the people using those keywords is, and how your company can fulfill those needs. Way too much content is being created today with a mindset that goes no deeper than “well, we’re creating and uploading content, so that’s a good thing.”

There’s a Method to the Content Madness

Content without strategy is a colossal waste of time and money. You can do better than that, and you need to, as we’re entering an era where low-hanging fruit is an anachronism. When every single one of your competitors has a content marketing program, the advantage will go to whomever has the best understanding of WHY certain content is successful.

For every piece of content you create, regardless of format, you should develop a Content Rationale Report that includes these pieces of information (as an example, I’ve included prospective answers for a social media metrics chart I’m developing)

  • Format of Content: Downloadable chart and glossary (PDF). Companion blog post.
  • Description of Content: This chart and glossary will show businesses how to select the most appropriate social media success metrics, based on their business goals and availability of specific data.
  • Budget, Including Labor: $300 + 5 hours of Convince & Convert time
  • Who Will Be Interested in This Content: Small and medium-sized businesses (with an emphasis on agencies) that need to figure out social media success on a regular basis. Targeted at marketing directors.
  • What Questions Does This Content Answer for Them: What social media success metrics should I be paying attention to, and why?
  • What Keywords Will Be Used to Find It: Social media ROI, social media statistics, measuring social media
  • What Do We Want Them to Do After Consuming It (Call-to-Action): Subscribe to C&C blog, contact C&C about training their teams on this metrics selection process, share the chart with colleagues
  • 3 Success Metrics: Social sharing, RSS subscriptions, inbound leads

Here’s the worksheet in downloadable form:

This is functionally similar to the Creative Brief that ad agencies have been using for decades to help copywriters and artists understand the psychology of the customer, and what needs to be included in the advertisement. It’s a tremendous tool for keeping your marketing strategically on target, and now the Content Rationale Report repurposes the creative brief for this new era of search-driven, socially-enabled communication.

You can’t just fire content bullets randomly into the air. You have to know why you’re making it, for whom you’re making it, how they’re going to find it, and how each and every piece of content will contribute to your business success.

That’s the future of content marketing. Are you ready for it?

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