As Novus starts to work on more and more complex content projects with brands using multiple platforms, what we are finding is that the foundation isn’t always there. A lot of the brands we’re talking to are stressing out, wanting to jump to the end goal, the content marketing, the amplification of content before they’ve thought through the starting steps.

It reminds me of a saying often directed to me by my parents and teachers at school, as I whizzed around at a million kilometres an hour: slow down to hurry up. Take the time to plan processes, and you can leap into them more efficiently.

And when I speak to clients now I often say the same thing: you should slow down now so you can hurry up later, and get the benefits of a great content strategy. You have to ensure before you start out that you have the quality and the right message sorted out. Or that you even have a working website to put it on.

1. Do Some House Cleaning
What I mean by this is, brands need to look at all the platforms their customers and stakeholders are using, and ensure there is a commonality of quality, a sense of purpose in them.

Because content marketing is about driving people back to your owned assets. And if your owned assets disappoint, your content strategy just won’t work.

2. Audit Your Existing Content
A lot of the time, the ideas and raw materials exist, but because so many stakeholders have contributed, it doesn’t feel like it all fits together. It feels disjointed, the same way a newspaper would if it had seven different chief editors.

So just auditing that existing content — which may involve a simple top edit and a look at how it can be reorganised — can make it feel more coherent.

3. Craft a Tone and Style Guide
It’s surprising by how often we ask brands for their tone and style guide and find they do not have one.

That’s fine, because a lot of people haven’t been focussed on content, but it is so important to get those rules laid down at the very beginning, so that if there are multiple stakeholders feeding into platforms, there are rules they can go by.

4. Have a Clear Idea of the Big Picture
What is the plan? What is it you want to achieve? What does success look like for you?

To your customer, they don’t care if they are reading a tweet or going to a website or speaking to a service rep — they should be getting the same message. If that message is to change your brand perception, to push a product, to educate, then you need to ensure your content works towards that goal.

5. Take Time to Get Internal Buy-In
This one is so important. We have found that if everyone in the company’s C-suite is not aligned, it is so hard to get going. What we are hearing is, “We have X amount of money left in the budget; we are going to amplify all the content we create.”

That to me is not what content is about. There is an opportunity to not just churn out content but to reassess what their ecosystem is, really understand what role platforms have, and plan out a strategy for the next two or three years of how that content is going to drive them to their end goals.

Final Thoughts: Thinking Fast and Slow
But too often brands are just rushing in and then being disappointed by the results. And I think one of the things we are pushing with our clients is our ability to look across multiple assets, understand the end user, and tailor the content to what resonates with what they need. But if you haven’t worked your way through all of these steps — and there are plenty more — then your content won’t achieve your goals.

By doing these things, your chances of successfully making your content a strategic asset for the business are far higher. Rather than thinking of content as an empty vessel that just fills up space, get your house in order before you start. Take your time.

 

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Don’t Fast Forward to Failure: Why Smart Content Starts Slow


BY Simon Cholmeley

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