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Are you making this content strategy mistake?

The #1 mistake we make in communications is telling the story we want to tell instead of the story our audience wants or needs to hear.

That’s where content strategy comes in.

A good strategy will help ensure you provide trustworthy, engaging and useful information that people need to make important decisions in their lives.

Here are some tips for staying on track with your messaging:

Mistake: Overload

Too often, we overload our audience with too many non-strategic messages.

Everyone has just 1,440 minutes in their day -- and not a minute more.

They will not squander those precious minutes wading through heavy marketing-ese language or an encyclopedic content dump to find the info they want.

Not only will info overload cause people to bounce off your site, but it can also damage your credibility.

The more often you don’t tell them what they want to know, the less they will turn to you. There may be an infinite amount of space on the Internet, but not in audience member’s brains.

It helps to think of every word and asset as a barrier to the action you want someone to take. Can they donate, buy or register without that word? Without that video? If they can, then it might be a distraction.

Less is definitely more in digital content.

Solution 1: Identify your audience needs

Identify your most important goals and then figure out how that goal can fill a need for your audience.

The best strategy is one that defines your audience using psychographic in addition to demographic information. Understanding the values and motivations gives us a more complete picture of the cohorts that make up our audience.

There are four key motivators (needs) that drive people to content:

  1. Utilitarian: This content makes me smarter, helps me accomplish a task

  2. Inspiration: This content inspires me to be better, to achieve things in my life and career

  3. Identity: It is relevant to a group I am a part of or want to be a part of, it gives me something to talk about, connects me with friends or colleagues

  4. Entertainment: This makes me laugh, distracts me from current problems, is enjoyable

Solution 2: Craft a positioning statement

Narrowing goals is tough. We would all like to have that unicorn piece of content that appeals to every audience and achieves every goal, but it’s not possible.

Being able to articulate the concept of your brand clearly and concisely will help.

Your concept is what you want people to believe about your service or product – and why it's believable. To do that, you need a positioning statement that specifies who your target segment is, the concept of your brand, and how you are different from your competitors.

(Positioning statements are used as an internal guide for marketing; they’re not the same as your vision or mission statement.)

If you Google “positioning statement” to find a template, you’ll see a lot of options out there. Whichever one you chose, challenge yourself to write your statement in a single sentence. If you need more than one, that’s a clue that your concept may be too broad or unwieldy.

The one I like to use is:

For (target audience) that (needs/cares about), (our brand) is (what it’s like) that (how it’s different from).

For example, ACES: The Society for Editing, might have this positioning statement:

For editors that care about quality, ACES is the premiere editing organization with the most cost-effective training.

ACES also gives scholarships, funds research and offers networking opportunities. While all those are valuable and feed into its core concept, they aren’t its main goal.

A content strategy that tries to achieve all, likely will achieve none.

Don’t forget

Content is about them, not you. Don’t fill your strategy conversations with “I want.” Fill them with “they want.”

• Up next: Taking your message to where your audience lives

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