By Debbie Williams published January 21, 2011

The WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHY and HOW of Editorial Content Strategy

If you were an architect building a house, wouldn’t you pin down a few concrete details before laying the foundation? Establishing the number of bedrooms and bathrooms needed, knowing who will live in the house, and choosing the best location for the home would be no-brainers.  The same process is true for creating content.

Thinking through your objectives – who, why, what, where and how – is a crucial yet often overlooked step. Here are some vital questions that will help guide you through your editorial content strategy.

WHO is the content for?

Defining your target audience (who you are talking to) is numero uno. Content marketing is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and the beauty of editorial strategy is that you can get as specific as possible in determining who you are trying to reach.

For example, if you are a wine company with a stellar pinot noir, talk about that grape, the history, your fermentation process and food pairings that complement your pinot. Don’t try to target overall wine enthusiasts or chardonnay lovers. Be laser specific for the best results.

 

WHY are you creating new content?

Your WHY is your raison d’être. It’s the ultimate reason you’re starting content marketing. Identify your audience’s key issues and challenges. What kind of information are they looking for?  How can you deliver it to them?

Here are a few questions that will help you pinpoint what your audience needs, and where you can become a valuable resource:

  • Is your customer service department fielding the same questions over and over?
  • Has someone asked you an interesting question that other people might be wondering about?
  • Has new legislation passed that will affect your industry?
  • Are there common purchasing or product usage questions?

 

WHAT are you going to say?

Aah, the magic question. You have to plan out not only what you are saying, but how you’re going to say it too. Your answers to WHY you’re creating new content will give you a head start to plan relevant topics and developing an editorial calendar.

You must also have a clear voice and tone for your brand. Are you talking in the first person or as a third party expert? Is your company’s content voice fun, expert, witty or conversational? Being consistent in your message – what you are saying and how you’re saying it – is so important to really connect with your audience. Otherwise you’ll come off as a brand with multiple personality disorder.

WHERE will the content live?

There are lots of different tools for you to deliver great content, depending on who you are trying to reach, and how they prefer to find and receive information.  Social media, blogs, your website’s news section, e-newsletters, white papers, branded content, microsites … there are so many opportunities for you to share your expertise and build stronger relationships with your customers.

Starting with one tactic can be the springboard for other content marketing initiatives. For example, if you start a blog, you can promote it in social media and summarize articles to link to in your e-newsletter.  Good content should come full circle. One reinforces the other.

HOW do you know if the content is successful?

How will you determine if your content marketing is a hit? Content marketing is valuable only if you are using it to meet objectives. You can put a lot of effort into developing content, but you have to set up measurements to help you decide what is working and what’s a dud.

Measuring engagement can be as simple as tracking blog comments, or the number of “shares” on Facebook, depending on your goals. For example:

  • New sign-ups for your e-newsletter
  • More comments and questions on your blog
  • A decrease in customer service calls because of Facebook and Twitter interaction

It can be really easy to get the results you’re looking for from content marketing as long as you can answer these questions. What are some of your musts for creating solid editorial content strategy?

Author: Debbie Williams

As co-founder of SPROUT Content, Debbie Williams is passionate about developing strategic, creative content that eloquently captures the spirit and emotion of brands through words. After more than 10 years of copywriting and creative marketing experience for global beauty brands and consumer goods companies, she now knows that content marketing is what she’s been doing all along. Follow her on Twitter @sproutcontent.

Other posts by Debbie Williams