content creation on budget: where time is money

Welcome back to CommCorner and welcome to February. Lots of things were going down everywhere the entire month of January – we successfully hosted our first 4 guest contributors over here on CommCorner and it’s off to the races. This month, you can expect to hear from another rad group of CommCorner contributors every Wednesday.

Right now, we want to invite you, if you’re interested, to connect with us about becoming a CommCorner contributor. We understand that communications as a discipline and communicating as an action can take many forms, so that means many of you have something to contribute to the conversation and that’s exactly our hope for our CommCorner contributors in 2018. Lend your industry expertise by contributing to the greater understanding of communicating effectively in the world we live in today. Start the conversation and connect with me (Hannah) – hannah@duchesnecommunications.com.

This month we’re covering content (again). On the South Bay Social podcast, I’ll be discussing this same subject, doubling back to the basic tenets of content which we covered last year and also discussing this content series as well. This month we’re breaking down content creation and management into a four-part series of which this is part one.

So, here’s what you can expect the entire month of February:

Feb 5: Content Creation on Budget: Both Time and Money (* you are here)

Feb 7: John Soper on Communication Silos within Your Business Ecosystem

Feb 12: Content Creation Roundup: Tips and Tools of the Trade

Feb 14: Micah Duchesne on Communication Tools for Culture Change

Feb 19: Content Scheduling: When, Where, and Why

Feb 21: Avni Nijhawan on Video in Brand Communication

Feb 26: Content Management Roundup: More Tips and Tools of the Trade

Feb 29: Jonathan Gottlieb on Making the Case of Organization Change


 

But now to the subject at hand: creating content, customized to your budget concerns – time, resources, and funds. In order for any sort of content marketing to work for you and your business, it’s got to fit your individual situation like a glove; otherwise, there’ll be a lot of waste or a lot of inefficacy – neither of which is preferred. So let’s talk four things you absolutely must nail down before you create a single graphic you can label as “content,” let alone blog or launch your YouTube career.

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First up, you’re nailing down your:

Target Audience

We talk a lot about this on CommCorner and that’s because, if you’re not sure who you’re talking to, you probably have little business opening your mouth in the first place. Critical steps have been missed. Now, you can dive down the market research rabbit hole. Sometimes, that’s absolutely necessary to do. However, what you might be overlooking is the great information you have at your disposal just from having a history within your industry (and in a lot of cases, actually doing the work you’re still doing). Who are the people who are interested in your services? We can back up your analysis with numbers and there’s certainly something to be said for studying industry trends and targeting with a pretty narrow focus, but when it comes to answering this question, at least preliminarily, you as a expert at your particular business, have a lot of good quality information at your fingertips as long as you’re asking the right questions. Questions like:

Who is the typical person that’s interested in what I do?

What other things, besides my industry, are they interested in?

What value do I provide and what do people remember about me?

Where do I fit into other’s professional “picture?”

How do I currently connect with people who are most valuable to me?

If you’re at all familiar with your social media and online world and once you have a good idea of what Your People look like, you can figure out where they hang out (online, at least). As social media distills within our world, we’ll be seeing more and more of our grandmothers on Facebook and Instagram, so adjust to the broadening acceptance (and enthusiastic embracing) of social media as a whole, and individual platforms in particular, some of which may be different than you might expect. 

Actual Numbers

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At the outset, you’ll probably have to acquaint yourself with the fact that this whole marketing and communications thing is not going to be the cheapest thing you do to ensure business success. Whether you outsource or execute in-house, you’re footing a hefty bill because it’s really no small task. From strategy formation to deployment to maintenance to enhancement, there’s always something to be done, monitored, and adjusted as you go forward. It’s a long game and when done well, a big commitment. So, once you know who and where your people are, then it’s time to think realistically about what you have to throw at how you communicate with them effectively.

Are you going to be utilizing in-house resources?

Are you hiring external consultants?

Are you blending external and internal resources?

Who’s going to project manage this whole thing?

How much involvement do you want to have?

Figure out the actual numbers – financial budget, time you and others have to allocate, etc. and then you’ll be able to pull together a content creation plan. Standardize it person-to-person and month-to-month. Accountability must be established at the outset in order to ensure brand governance. And then it’ll be time to talk more about platform focus.

Platform focus

There are a lot of ways to get your message in front of your people. However, once you’ve nailed down who your people are and how many resources you have to put behind connecting with them, you’re better able to look at where you’re going to be putting the content you create. We’ve talked before about diversifying your portfolio of platforms – you don’t want to solely rely on Instagram, or magazine ads, or television commercials. Instead you want to cast a wider net, “hedging” your bets with general brand awareness. However, having actually analyzed the kind of person interested in what you do, you’re better able to pare down the list to people who are most interested, eliminating a lot of the waste you can easily encounter in marketing.

Are members of your audience in the 25-35 crowd on social media?

Do you need to leverage video to reach your key audiences?

Are you going to need to go offline to generate more industry clout?

What are your industry competitors doing in their current marketing efforts?

Where do you think your people are looking for you?

Once you nail this down, you’ll be able to think of effective content to populate your platforms. Be smart about it - create something you can use for multiple purposes or something evergreen you can reference later. We’re talking actual tools in two blog posts this month, so stay tuned for that, but in the mean time, create a matrix of sorts – outline where your people are and what content (with what intention) you want to reach them. Then you’re about a million times closer than you were to actually connecting with your people over content about you and your business that actually matters to them .

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Investment attitude

This whole thing doesn’t happen overnight. You’ve got to think of this whole thing as an investment – time, money, emotional investment - there’s a lot of all of that. Brand awareness is something that you can affect a lot of change in regards to, but the amount of time it takes is longer than you might think. Settle in and watch the analytics but don’t go straight to reactionary mode. You’re looking for trends, not just spurts of activity. Groundwork you’re putting in now pays dividends when your brand awareness reaches critical mass. Put your investment in perspective with your ultimate return. If all goes well, you should absolutely be better off for any and all of your efforts.

What is your estimated ROI for each new client/sale?

Can you estimate what it would be worth for your brand awareness to increase 25% within your 100 mile radius in 12 months?

What is your capacity and are you marketing with that in mind?

Do you continue to market and create content in the same fashion as your current ventures?

Are you comfortable with your plan?

Self-fulfilling prophecy has a lot to do with the eventual outcome of marketing endeavors (read: content creation). If you’re not confident as the leader of your team/business/enterprise, there’s a good chance this whole thing is going to bust. However, with a solid plan backed by experience and data and mixed with a little industry intuition, you’re able to put the pieces together to make your odds of success better because you worked harder and smarter. We’ve said over and over again that marketing without PR – marketing incongruently or in a way inconsiderate of your brand — is dangerous because it can be (at best) wasteful and (at worst) detrimental to your long-term brand strategy.

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Next week we’re talking content creation tools and we’re about to get super practical. We’ll outline our favorite apps and tools for creating attractive, adaptive content. So stay tuned for that. We’re talking content all month long – making it actionable for you.

Catch South Bay Social tomorrow (Tuesday, 2/6) where we’ll cover content as an essential component of your marketing strategy as well as what we’ve covered in this blog. It’ll be a great blend on a couple of our series here on CommCorner, refreshed for podcast prime time.