Content Strategy by Rogue Marketing

Every business has to write. How do you write what your audience wants to hear? Are people waiting to hear about your latest features? Or is there something more? Content strategy is the planning, execution, and governance of useful, usable content.

Content strategy can make or break an entire brand. Have you ever wondered why some blogs get so much traffic? Or why your competitors’ LinkedIn content gets so much more activity than yours? Where does all that attention come from? And what are they doing so much differently than you?

Sending the right message, to the right people, at the right time, on the right platform takes a lot of time, effort, and testing. But with the right amount of dedication, you can find that sweet spot to bring more people to you, and more of them converting to customers.

What you’re about to read is heavily based in the philosophy of creating consistent standards at every level of content creation, so that you can scale your content strategy for any size organization.

Let’s dive into what it takes to build a content strategy:

  1. Message Architecture
  2. Information Architecture
  3. Content Strategy
  4. Copy Guidelines

Message Architecture

message architecture content strategyYou read all different types of content. Pick a topic, and you’ll find the same information presented in a vastly different way. For example, the flu. You can read a peer-reviewed research paper on the effects of tylenol on body temperature…or you could watch a parenting video on knowing when to give your child medicine. Same topic. Same information. Vastly different approach!

Before you write the first word of a script, social media post or article, you need to know what your brand is trying to convey; who you want to bring in with it; and how your features map to their pain points.

You’ve just discovered the need for a message architecture.

The message architecture informs WHAT you say, and HOW you say it:

  • Why, How, What, for Whom – Value Proposition
  • If Your Brand Were a Person, Who Would It Be? – Brand Personality Traits
  • Benefit::Feature::Supporting Points Breakdown
    • This one is interesting and deserves some attention: Most brands mix up benefits and features like they were facts and opinions. In your message architecture, you can clarify the benefits, show which features make that benefit true, and which support points prove that people actually get that benefit (through those features).Clear as mud? Don’t worry—you can see it clear as day and put it into production immediately when you download the Rogue Value Proposition Bundle.

You need a message architecture to set clear guidelines and standards on what you are communicating. Use it to create a unified voice across all of marketing, sales, and customer service.

Most brands mix up benefits and features like they were facts and opinions.

Information Architecture

Ready to write? Not quite. Where are you going to put it? Let’s say on a product page. And where is that product page? How does it relate to all the other pages?

The way you organize information is just as important as what information you communicate. The organization helps people find and consume more of the right information, rather than bouncing around trying to figure it all out on their own.

That’s information architecture.

The way you organize information is just as important as what information you communicate. 

Your information architecture shows how everything you figured out in your message architecture gets organized, and how it leads people to convert on your primary web domain:

  • Top Navigation
  • Site depth
    • Home
      • L1 pages – the primary page of each navigational element; 1 click removed from the home page
        • L2 pages – in-depth pages that expound on elements from L1 pages; often 2 clicks removed from the home page
          • L3 pages – Content-level pages, such as articles, blog posts, downloadables, video assets, etc.; may be 3 clicks removed from the home page

Content Strategy

content strategyNow we’re into the content strategy portion. This is where we plan, execute, and govern useful, usable content! But first, we needed to set the foundation for what is the core philosophy of that content, and where it fits in your entire marketing apparatus.

Let’s take a look at this in a bullet point format so you can see simply and clearly where it all fits:

  • Content Creation
    • Content Audit
      • *Define the status quo, identify strengths, acknowledge the gaps
      • You may also have a content audit in your buyer journey, if you’ve done one; your buyer journey content audit, however, is focused content that applies to one persona, rather than your entire library of assets.
    • Persona matrices
      • Personas x Buying Stage x Priorities
      • Personas x Buying Stage x Content types
        • There are a couple of ways to approach this. Again, if you have a buyer’s journey, then you’re already mapping these to each persona. In this matrix, you can bring all of those together and see what content you have for each persona, by each stage.
    • Content amplification
      • One article doesn’t have to stay just one article. Chunk it out into call-outs that you can turn into graphics for social media; use it into a script for a video; summarize it for an email; the list goes on.
  • Content Distribution
    • Theme calendar
      • There are 24 hours in a day, 365 days in a year. How do you prioritize timing, and how can that timing sync to how your customers’ needs change throughout the year?
    • Persona Matrix
      • Personas x Buying Stage x Channels
        • Email, social media, conferences, website…choose the right channel for distribution based on where each persona is in the buyer journey.
    • Channels
      • Reach channels – let people know you’re there
      • Depth channels – give them more info (typically a website or store)
      • Relationship channels – customers choose to maintain contact with you (newsletters, email signups, social media, etc.)
      • Learn more with this article from Forrester Research: Mix Art and Science for Marketing Success
  • Content Governance
    • Reporting
      • Who needs to be kept in the loop? What do they want to know about how your content is performing?
    • Content calendar/audit
      • Are you treating your content like a bank account? Plan and measure every month!
    • Age
      • What content is starting to get a little long in the tooth? What content needs to be updated more frequently?
    • Metrics
      • What are the metrics that tell you if a piece of content was successful or valuable?

Copy guidelines eliminate the opinions and bring everyone up to a single standard.

Copy Guidelines

copy guidelines content strategyCopy guidelines are one of the most overlooked parts of any content strategy or marketing apparatus.

So many hours get wasted in revisions as different people contribute a different point of view on how something should be written. You want copy guidelines so that there’s no question about the style or the mechanics of your content.

In all things, you want consistency. Copy guidelines eliminate the opinions and bring everyone up to a single standard.

Style Dictionary 

“Words are words,” right? Well actually…no. Which words get hyphens or not, stand as two words or not, use an “s” or a “z”, and more are all problems that come up in rewrites. The problem is, no one is right or wrong. You’ll get different answers if you’re using the American Heritage Dictionary (“judgmental”) vs. the Oxford English Dictionary (“judgemental”). Settle copy arguments before they even begin.

Style Guide

One word: Comma. Ne’er has there been a hotter debate among marketers than over the serial comma. But there are more considerations, such as spacing around punctuation (spacing in ellipses, spacing around an em dash, what on earth an em dash even is, etc…) where no one is right or wrong without a dedicated style guide.

The Associated Press (AP) Style Guide is the standard for journalism, where many content creators receive their university training. It is said to use fewer spaces because it was created for newspapers where column width meant everything. But the AP Style Guide actually has more spaces around punctuation like em dashes than the Chicago Manual of Style, too. The AP Style Guide also prefers words with prefixes (non-judgmental, anti-microbial, co-create, etc.) have hyphens, whereas the Chicago Manual of Style takes out the hyphen altogether (nonjudgmental, antimicrobial, cocreate, etc.). And the AP Style Guide says that words 3 letters or longer get capitalized, no matter their function in a phrase—so “The” would be capitalized, but “is” would not.

The Chicago Manual of Style is the most common style guide among corporations and brands. It uses fewer spaces and has more consistent capitalization standards than other style guides. Capitalization standards are based on word usage and function (nouns, verbs, etc.), whereas other style guides dictate capitalization by word length.

Think this is nerdy? You’re right. But it’s also incredibly consistent. That’s why you want a professional to write your copy.

Brand Voice and Tone

I see why you’re saying it…but why are you saying it that way?

Here’s an example:

This……or That
Cross Sourcing vs. Outsourcing vs. Managed IT: Let’s Cut through the Buzzwords, OK?
You’d rather be solving business problems, not playing buzzword bingo. Here’s how to separate the fluff from what keeps you ahead of customer demands.
How to Employ the Skilled Labor You Need to Complete a Large Project
Large projects can be burdensome, and for this reason you need access to both rural and offshore talent capable of managing a holistic project plan to deliver the best results.
DevOps that Actually Move the Needle. It Shouldn’t Be That Remarkable…But It Is.
Support teams have to be able to give you work-product that moves you to the next phase, not just more consulting. Here’s what to look for.
[BRAND]’s DevOps Workers Are the Industry-Leading Solution
[BRAND]’s DevOps talent is a mature resource for work on any project at any level. Our technology talent trains for the expertise specific to your project.
No ROI? No Deal. That’s What You Need from Your IT Partners.
Price is important, but only costs tied to an ROI can be considered an investment. Otherwise it’s just an expense…and expenses don’t get approved.
Why [BRAND] Is the Most Valuable Resource for Rural, Onshore, Domestic Outsourcing
[BRAND] regularly beats the competition on pricing for staff augmentation and project work. Give us a call now to start your quote.

Is Your Head Spinning? Don’t Worry. We Can Help.

instinctive rogue marketing quotableRogue helps brands put their best foot forward. If you are in need of upgrading your content, making it synchronize with your paid media, social media, SEO, sales enablement and everything else, you know where to find us. Rogue has done content strategy work for brand-new startups, all the way up to multinational, multibillion-dollar corporations.