How to avoid a content marketing hangover

Sep 14, 2016
Content Marketing

Business is content drunk and it’s not a pretty sight. Like a university freshman at the first big party of the year, the wider marketing and communications industry has abandoned all decorum and is spewing content in all directions. But smart marketers have a trick for avoiding an expensive content marketing hangover while still enjoying all the benefits of being at the party. It’s called an editorial mission statement, and you need one.

We’re all in on content marketing

Spending on content marketing is up, staffing is increasing, and publishing frequency is on the rise. All this adds up to a lot more content being created:

Avoiding a content hangover

So what can you do to ensure your efforts don’t become part of the content shock problem? Do what traditional media has always done – develop an editorial mission statement and let it become your sobriety test.

To create your own editorial mission statement, answer these three questions:

1) Whom am I creating content for?

Who is going to read or view your content? Whom are you creating it for? This might sound incredibly basic but modern marketing managers are publishing overwhelming amounts of content about their own brands without ever considering whether their buyers and target audiences are interested. If you’re broadcasting information about you and your company, you’re probably already in trouble.

Sobriety question: Am I creating this content for my company or for my audience?

Example: Inc.

Inc. says very clearly their content is for ‘entrepreneurs and business owners’. They’re not chasing middle management or the C-Suite; they’re not publishing information for their own stakeholders.

Welcome to, the place where entrepreneurs and business owners can find useful information, advice, insights, resources and inspiration for running and growing their businesses.

2) What kinds of content am I going to create?

What kind of content do you expect your audience wants or needs? This question is almost impossible to answer without a content marketing strategy in place. If you haven’t taken a deep dive into audience appetites and behaviour, you could be wasting a lot of time and money. Far too much effort is squandered on dabbling into content marketing with no real strategic approach to guide the investment.

Do your audience read blog posts or do they prefer a print magazine? Do they hang out on Facebook or are they more likely to turn up at an in-person event? Do they watch videos or would they rather read a transcript? Are they time-poor and prefer an executive summary or a podcast over a long read? Are they likely to delve into a meaty report?

Sobriety question: Is the content I’m supplying in a format my audience prefers and in a place they will find it?

Example: Content Marketing Institute

CMI explicitly states they’re going to provide “in-person events, online training, a print magazine, daily blog posts, and original research”.

Content Marketing Institute leads the industry in advancing the practice of content marketing for enterprise marketing professionals. We educate our audience through real-world and how-to advice through in-person events, online training, a print magazine, daily blog posts, and original research.

3) How does it benefit my audience?

If you’re publishing content your buyers don’t need or want, you’re probably contributing to the piles of useless content being created every day. This easily happens when your strategy focuses on tactics like website traffic or vanity metrics in social media. Align your content initiatives with business objectives to keep your content production from straying into the useless but popular realm of cat videos and Minion memes.

Sobriety question: Do I know what my audience need to provoke them to make a purchasing decision?

Example: Traction News

Tireweb Marketing defines the audience benefit for Traction News in the first sentence of their editorial mission statement and it’s one bound to resonate, “to run a successful tire business in America”.

Traction News provides tire business owners and their employees with news, opinion and information to run a successful tire business in America. The online magazine focuses on product information, business advice, industry events and original research with new articles published every day.

Where editorial mission meets content strategy

When constructed properly, your editorial mission statement – or content marketing statement – becomes a good way to decide whether something is worthy of your time and budget. It’s a litmus test you can hold up to the next request for marketing resources. It will keep you on the path to effectiveness and keep you out of a reactive churning of requests from management and sales.

Ask your management and sales team the three questions for creating an editorial mission statement – who, what and how. Don’t be surprised if the process of creating an editorial mission statement exposes the weaknesses in your current content production. It might be a great way to help you justify the expense for a full-blown content marketing strategy.

Defining an editorial mission statement sounds easy but it’s not. Your chief content officer or managing editor must have the courage to stand up to an executive team or sales forces wanting to push brand.  It’s vital to understand your target audience. Delivering needed information to them wins their trust and helps you convert them into a paying customer or loyal influencer. This information must be value to them – not to you or your company. Hold every piece of content up to the sobriety test questions to keep on track.

Getting help with content marketing

If you’d like help avoiding a content marketing hangover, get in touch. We have a series of workshops to help you arrive at an editorial mission. We’re experts at incorporating this information into a documented content marketing strategy. Give us a buzz to find out more and hear about our award-winning case studies.

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