Let’s say we’re developing content for a lemonade manufacturer who is bringing a new product to the market: a soft drink with chili. Does anyone really need it? Depends on how we tell its story.
Potential topics naturally circulate in the ambiance of every product, service, brand, and company. Some are completely obvious; others need a more microscopic view. Things like “flavour”, “health”, “recipes”, “lifestyle”, or “environmental awareness” float in the orbit of a chili soft drink, alongside topics that relate to the company itself such as philosophy, history, or career. The challenge: to discover content that is suitable for the product and the audience and to package it attractively. But at least as important is leaving anything unsuitable out.
1. Target group: Who to talk to as well as how and where to talk to them
The person who knows who they’re talking to, usually knows how to talk to them. In addition to clearly defined products or services, the definition of target groups or personas is one of the most important prerequisites. The development of personas is part of the content strategy. A company without a target group communicates randomly and arbitrarily. After all, you don’t start with “What’s up?” and no appointment to go to the boss’s office to ask for a salary increase. The target group specifies the way you address them, your tonality, the content channels, and the formats. In the case of our soft drink, blog texts or social media postings are right for health-conscious couples, singles and families. Such an audience is probably on Facebook or Instagram and we can address them quite casually.
2. Collecting material on “main topics”. What to talk about?
You now know who you’re paying attention to and who’s paying attention to your content. But what exactly do you want to say? What’s your message? What motive is your content pursuing? Do you want to inform, describe, or sell? Readers usually have very fine antennas for this.
Collecting content and just writing something about it is one thing. The other is presenting content so that it achieves high click rates or meets other KPIs. Here, too, the ultimate goal is turning the possibility of success into the probability of success.
The first lever of meaningful content structure is defining several main or brand themes. The main topics are strong concepts that are rooted in the company, its products, and its values. In the soft drink scenario, for example: health.
3. Key messages: How to talk about the main topics?
The next step is to turn the main topics into so-called key messages. Key messages work like a compass. In other words: Key messages act as the hidden essence of every contribution – they are the bouillon cube in the soup.
By helping to strategically sharpen the content, they facilitate both the search and the selection of topics. Key messages also ensure consistency within a platform.
Health: We invent and brew lemonade with ingredients from organic farming. People who drink our lemonade enjoy it and are consuming something nutritious.
Contributions that might be derived from this key message could be: “Chili prevents burn-out” or “The organic burner: How we create our chili pepper”. Topics that might seem appropriate during the initial research phase, but which do not fit the key message, could be: “People need so much water a day” or “How to stay healthy during winter” or “10 tips for your daily moment of well-being”. Such fuzzy stories dilute your profile and lure readers or customers away from the actual topic (the tasty soft drink). Elementary: The story must be right and fit. It must not be “made up” for marketing purposes.
4. Publication: Where and in what form?
The topic and the story have now been developed. Where do we publish it? Now, it’s time to put the content in the right format and distribute it to the channels. An Instagram story about the soft drink colour world, an interview about the chili idea on the corporate blog, and a soft-drink-related quiz in the app. Cross-channel thinking is a requirement for this method of planning and spreading content. For the editorial staff, this means thinking in terms of topics. In other words: The form follows the content and not vice versa.
5. The “Whys” behind KPIs and content goals
Even if it seems that the content creation is now complete, there’s another fundamental step: analysis based on the planned content goals and KPIs. Content goals could be: “make users more active on the platform”, “increase attractiveness for advertising partners”, or “double sales figures”. KPIs could be: “improve page views” or “increase click-through rates”.
Take a critical look at performance – and therefore your work – and develop both in a data-based manner. This way, you can confirm or refute subjective beliefs or preferences with objective data. And it’s all the better if the editors had the right gut feeling.
By the way, the soft drink is not yet available – but maybe you would have bought it!