The Three A’s of Content

We get a lot of questions about content – from organizational structure and workflow process all the way down to “Which should we do – a white paper or a webinar?” That’s because you can’t market without content, which makes the whole idea of “content marketing” as something new a little absurd, but I get it – we need more content than ever before, and that content needs to be better.

Many organizations are in the process of mapping existing content assets to the buyer’s journey and developing strategies for filling gaps, but how do we ensure that the new content we’re creating is of high quality?

Low-quality content often lacks one of the following “Three A’s” of content:

  • Audience. Who is the audience? Is it a generic audience – just anyone who will listen? A market segment or enterprise size? Or is it more specific – a well-known persona or even an actual person, or perhaps a customer, influencer or late-stage prospect? Only if the audience is clearly identified can assumptions can be made about how best to provoke thought by emphasizing a particular pain point or initiative.
  • Activation. Where and how will this piece of content be activated? Are there multiple opportunities to touch this audience across channels? Understanding how content will be activated (e.g. the difference between a sales leave-behind and something to be published or shared via Twitter) can help content creators choose multiple activation points to deliver the same information to the same audiences.
  • Asset. After choosing audience and activation channels, it’s time to determine the asset format. What are the best formats to use to reach this audience, with this information, in the identified activation channels? What’s the objective relative to the buying cycle or customer lifecycle? What information must be included in order to achieve this objective? What data or proof points are required for content development? What topic, theme or title will be used to grab the audience’s attention? How brand- or product-centric should the content be, in terms of the messaging frame and the visuals? What is the guiding creative concept – e.g. does it include a visual metaphor? Where, within the organization, do the resources reside that will produce this piece of content?

When organizations fail to consider audience or activation points, they often leap to asset format as the first question (“We need to run a campaign – should it be a white paper or a webinar?”). Consider each of the three A’s of content to remove some of the guesswork from the process of planning your content assets and tactical mix.

About the Author

Erin Provey is Service Director, Strategic Communications Management, at SiriusDecisions. She has more than 10 years of experience in brand strategy, including positioning, identity, public relations, digital strategy, copywriting and account management. Follow Erin on Twitter @eeestep.


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