It is easy to head into Content Marketing initiatives with a few ideas and no solid plan. In fact, that is what most organization do. In a recent Content Marketing Institute study, only 35% of B2B content marketers who responded had a documented plan. Nearly 50% say they have a plan, but it is not documented.
If the plan is not documented, then it is flexible and unintended changes will compound over time causing shift. Also my understanding of the un-document plan will be different than yours and my content will have a different reason for existence than yours. We should strive to document any plan we have in our team to ensure we are reaching the goals we set out in front of us.
What is a Content Mission Statement?
We talked about the importance of Personas in one of my previous posts. I believe it is key to identify the “who” before we can move forward. If you haven’t done that yet, stop reading and start there. Come back when you are ready, I will wait…
Great you now have your Personas! Our next step is to identify our Mission Statement for the Content we are producing. A Content Mission Statement is the marching orders of all content we produce in our strategy. It is the primary purpose of existence for our content. If someone could ask our content what is was doing here, the mission statement would be the answer it would give.
Your business most likely has a mission statement. It may be the result of a business consultant running a meeting stating we need a mission statement or the real passion conveyed to the organization by the visionary founders. Whatever the state of that statement, it is there to show the customers and employees why your company is in business.
The Rite Aid drugstores mission statement is “To be a successful chain of friendly, neighborhood drugstores. Our knowledgeable, caring associates work together to provide a superior pharmacy experience, and offer everyday products and services that help our valued customers lead healthier, happier lives.” When you read this, you know what their values are, who they are targeting, and why they are in business. If you were hired as a pharmacy technician, you would open your employee manual and see what the company is trying to achieve. When you visit the store, you would be able to see a difference between this company and the typical pharmacy if executed correctly. The experience you have with this store might make such an impact on you that you never price shop and tell all your friends to go here.
A Content Mission Statement has all these same principals but is not specific to the entire organization, just the content. We must understand the overall Mission Statement of the organization to be sure we are aligning our efforts with the rest of the business. Imagine if the Rite Aid drugstore Content Mission Statement was “To share information about pool supplies and maintenance tips to owners of backyard pools so they can keep their pools up and running year after year.” Our content customers would be shocked when they showed up to our drugstores and found out we didn’t stock pool supplies.
The Content Mission Statement needs to focus on who we are building our audiences around, what we want to deliver to these audiences, and the value they should gain from the content. Let’s dig in a little deep to what makes up a good Content Mission Statement.
The Makeup of a Good Content Mission Statement
This statement will be printed on fancy paper, passed out to everyone who writes content, and are at the core of all our Content Marketing initiatives so we should spend some time getting this right. Let’s see what goes into a good Mission Statement.
What Audience are we targeting?
We should know who we are targeting if our Persona exercises have been successful. However, most organizations cannot easily answer this. Think about the big characteristics of who we are reaching with the content. These don’t always line up directly with our current customer base, but there should be a business reason we are reaching this audience. If reaching the child of an aging parent is a target for our Senior Living facility, then they should be part of our target Personas and mentioned in the Content Mission Statement. Remember, this statement should be an outline for our content, so it should provide value to someone listed in our statement.
What are we delivering?
Not blogs, infographics, and podcasts, but what is within these items. Think about words like: insights, advice, expertise, experiences, opinions, suggestions, lessons, or guidance. Within our content types, we will be delivering these items. Try not to be overly vague at this point, but think of keywords that drive specific value. Lessons and opinions have two very different meanings, but are represented in the word information. Leave out words like information, data, and articles as they can be far to open.
How will our audience find value in what we are delivering?
When Robert Rose presented at the Kansas City BMA Content Marketing event, he spoke about viewing your content as an asset and not just value. I immediately thought about the Price is Right during his presentation. The contestants are lined up on the front row with their number pads. Bob Barker (or Drew Carey) opens the presentation of the next item. Some lovely models show the item off and the announcer describes the product and sets your expectation if you had this product. Bob or Drew then asks of each contestant to estimate the value of this item. He goes down the line and gets a dollar amounts from each player. “The actual retail price IS…” and the winner is selected to continue the game and they win the product they just bid on.
What I love most about this part of the show is the fact that these contestants typically had no idea what the cost of these items are. They just throwing out a guess based on what they felt it should be. This gut price is what we are driving for. The more aware we make our audiences of the quality of our content and continue to meet the expectations of those initial gut calls, we start to build truly passionate audience members who will be more willing to use our products and services. If our Content Mission Statement does not convey the level of value we expect our content to have, then we need to keep working on it.
How will we differentiate ourselves?
At first, this may be hard to convey in our Mission Statement. As we see a rise in the amount of content being produced, it will be important that we know how ours will stand out. If our differentiation is the small niche we have defined for our audience, then use that. However, if our Mission Statement is everything to everyone, focus in here to add some distinctions.
Write Three Good Statements and Share Them with Your Team or Peers
Being too vague and allowing any content produced for an entire industry is probably where we will land on our first few attempts. We might even convince ourselves we are providing value by informing our customers to what we do. Remember, we are trying to create a new asset-class in our organization with our content. We want to be able to fill the pockets of our audience with valuable tokens that make them want to come back for more and in turn do business with us.
Review Your Existing Content Before You Start Writing New
You may find it easier to solidify your Content Mission Statement by reviewing your existing content. The content will be in one of three states: in line with your statement, needs a tweak to get in on the same page, or in need of a new home. Getting your content in line with your Mission will help kick off our Content Marketing initiatives faster than creating new content. You will also find those hidden gems that you forgot about, or in some cases, didn’t know you had.
Next Step, Build Your Content Backlog
To get started, I suggest you build a content backlog at this point for the content that is in the middle and start writing Content Stories and Value Statements we discuss in our post of Content Items. Setting goals, estimates, priorities, and target personas to this content will help us come up with a plan of execution and get us on an agile path to Content Marketing. Happy Planning!