There seems to be confusion, as ever in marketing! This week we discuss content marketing objectives, strategies and tactics and how they interrelate with each other in a framework that makes sense.
Content marketing seems to be an endless source of confusion, but I think we’ve finally cracked it! Our junior planner, Emilia, did a great training session recently about developing aims, content marketing objectives, strategies and tactics – and it struck me that this is where most of the confusion lies. So for the record, this is what we think, and this is what most trained marketers would recognise – and the hierarchy is really important:
- Aims, big-picture goals – usually these are the aims of the business.
- Objectives – these are the outcomes that represent the achievement of these goals. Importantly, these are things you can observe and measure, so you can work out whether you have achieved them or not.
- Strategies are the action plans you’ll execute to meet the objectives.
- Tactics are all the little things that you’ll do to make up the strategy.
So where does content marketing fit? Well content marketing is a strategy – it’s about using deep brand stories to better engage consumers in a world where they are becoming less receptive to traditional strategies, such as advertising. Ultimately, as some strategies die others step in and this is exactly what’s happening right now with content marketing.
A clever brand needs a mix of strategies that can be scaled, as they are measured vs. content marketing objectives. The problem is that a number of digital people don’t really get this. It’s primarily because the set-up of most brand teams in digital is very objective-oriented: a social team, SEO team, digital media team etc. Digital in such a scenario is itself a tactic of bigger objectives – certainly in a lot of eyes. The next issue is around the tactics that make up a content marketing strategy – and here there is a lot of cross-over with social and SEO.
Take SEO for example. Assuming someone sits down and says our content marketing objectives are to get more traffic from organic search, or from specific keywords then cool, our strategy should be SEO. To do SEO well, you need content and off-page signals. Content marketing does this. Right OK, but what is really happening here is that this is very siloed thinking and the reality is you end up with lowest-common-denominator work that does nothing for brand. At some point, someone’s going to question the value and either stop or be clever enough to realise that they could work with the people responsible for the brand and put a feather in their cap.
So where does the value sit? Well if done well and implemented across the right teams, with the people that have the leverage to get things aligned in charge, content marketing will work. When it becomes a tactical implementation for a very specific objective, it won’t. So my message is simple – unless you are thinking about this strategically as a solution online to a host of objectives, then you are not starting well.
Or if you want to talk to some people who can help you get it right, come and talk to us.