Matching Your Content to Your Goals
At the Informed Engagement Network, we sometimes have prospective clients who come to us with very specific content asks: a 3-minute video, for example, or a series of white papers. “We can do that!” we respond. And then we ask them:
- What exactly do you want to achieve with this content?
- Who are the audiences you want to reach?
- What do you want those people to do after watching or reading your brand’s content?
- Why did you settle on that type of content format?
If they haven’t really worked through those questions (among others, but those are the basics), we suggest that they step back to lay the groundwork before settling on a particular content format. Different audiences are drawn to or persuaded by different types of content, depending on the company, industry and goal.
“There’s not an ‘all sizes fit all’ approach, but rather a highly custom solution based on business goals, communications objectives and audience insights,” says IEN strategist Maria Reitan. “The more you know about the audience, the better you can determine the best path to reaching them.”
Becky Nahm, IEN’s SVP of Content, echoes those thoughts. “Think about what you’re trying to do: Engage? Convince? Sell? Inform? Train?” she says. “And how much time does your audience truly have for you? On introduction, probably not much. But once they get to know you and are interested, they may invest more time in your content.”
Form Follows Function
Once you have the research and strategy covered, some content formats are indeed better than others at achieving your goals.
● Telling a story via VIDEO works best when you have something visual to show or demonstrate. Interviews can be compelling to humanize your employees or SMEs, and we’ve all gotten used to seeing each other in Zoom boxes, but videos are also an opportunity to add more visual interest to a narrative — and that includes B-roll. Speaking of narrative — the best videos have a beginning, middle and end, with a central figure that acts as the anchor of the story. Music can also add an element of drama or energy.
● Training or educating? ANIMATION and motion graphics can help bring complex ideas to life in an engaging and memorable way. [See our earlier blog post about animated videos.]
● PODCASTS have gained a loyal following for their convenience and ability to engage. Starting a branded podcast can be a valuable long-term strategy to gain fans and build trust if you can carve out a unique niche in your industry and commit to a consistent schedule and format. Note: To attract and keep listeners, the quality of the audio and music should be excellent.
● If you’re trying to sell a service or product — or convince a potential customer of the benefits of your brand — WHITE PAPERS can be useful tools for B2B engagement. But they shouldn’t be an introduction to your audience, Nahm says. “By the time a potential customer chooses to read a white paper, they likely already know you pretty well,” she says. “They’ve engaged with you through social media, at an in-person event or by watching one of your videos. Now they want to know more — specific details about you can help them.” A white paper should be a thorough, in-depth analysis of a particular subject, with clear proof points.
● BLOGS work well to humanize your brand and develop a unique voice, connecting on a more personal level with your customers or potential customers. They give you an opportunity to weigh in on a timely topic or establish your company or specific SMEs as thought leaders. They can also work well as supporting assets to help you distribute a core asset like a white paper or video. Blogs should not be sales collateral.
And then, of course, there’s social media and email, which can help ensure that your content and messaging get distributed to the right people at the right time.
Contact IEN to find out how we can help you develop the best content and distribution strategies for your brand — and deliver on those strategies with compelling content that engages your target audiences.
Sarah Elbert is senior director of content strategy for the Informed Engagement Network. Illustration designed by vectorjuice for Freepik.