Content Strategy: Keeping Content Effective, Coordinated, and Affordable
Well, for starters…
- Copy, imagery, video, items for download
- Inbound linkage strategy
- Promotional items
- Print ads, online ads, email blasts
- Content to support a social media strategy
- PowerPoint decks, podcasts
- Blogs, interactive banner ads
- Journal articles
- Instruction and service manuals
- Troubleshooting guides
- Print, podcasts, interactive
- Troubleshooting guides
- Training material for sales force
- PowerPoint decks, LMS content
That’s a lot of content to create.
Content is expensive
Suppose 3 months later, you update the software to add new functionality to the instrument.
Now you have a lot of educational and promotional material to update.
As pointed out in Persuading Scientists by Hamid Ghandan and by others, content needs to be optimized for the different positions on a scientists buying cycle, so it’s feasible that you might want to create different versions of your content.
And then there’s the 800-lb mobile gorilla. Will your content be as effective when viewed on a 4-inch screen versus a 10-inch screen? And will a responsive website design be sufficient strategy to enable your content to achieve its objectives on different devices?
Content strategy—what it is and what it’s not
You don’t scare easily, and this article wasn’t written to frighten you, but to introduce content strategy as a tool to help you create and maintain the most impactful content in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.
Content strategy isn’t content marketing. Content strategy INFORMS content marketing.
As Robert Rose wrote recently in the blog of The Content Marketing Institute1:
Content strategy. What’s in it for you?
Let’s take a closer look at the definition by Kristina Halvorson, coauthor of the seminal book Content Strategy for the Web.
Your sales rep just spoke with a customer at State University who discovered a tweak that increases DNA sequencing reads by 30%. What’s your process for distributing this information throughout your sales, marketing, techncial support, and R&D groups?
For whom are you going to target this novel content? An academic or corporate audience? Both? For an academic, will you target the faculty member who heads the lab, her veteran post-doc, second-year graduate student or undergraduate intern? How important is it to immediately provide the information in languages other than English?
Is your objective to distribute this information as quickly as possible or do you want to take this opportunity to engage the reader? Will you include a link to a survey that asks the reader if a 30% improvement in sequencing read is valuable, and if so, why? Should you advertise the availablity of your latest sequencing handbook filled with tips and tricks? Would your reader be more likely to talk with your rep in the future if you include information about a new sequencing meet-up group?
And for you fans of Big Data analytics, would you want to take this opportunity to deliver additional content custom designed to match the interests of your audience?
New information doesn’t have to be a one-trick pony.
Your R&D team confirmed the State U. data and you’re ready to spread the word.
What’s your vehicle of choice?
- Email blast
- FASEB lecture
- Rep-delivered iPad presentation
On what device(s) will your audience read your information? Have you considered the time of day that readers will access the information and how this might affect the choice of device (refer to chart “Device Preferences Throughout the Day”)? And do you partner with organizations such as Scientist Solutions and Biocompare to spread the word?
The longest journey might begin with a single step, but relative to content marketing, your messages have to venture through many paths simultaneously.
Your tech support team reported 56 complaints in September and October involving 5 different lots of a cell staining kit that you provide for your flow cytometer. QA tested your retention samples, and they produced stellar results.
Yet the compaints continue to pile up. But then, someone in R&D notices that the recent update to the instruction manual for the staining kit recommends an incubation temperature of 37°C instead of room temperature.
Mystery solved. Time to activate your process for updating your print, online, audio, and video content. Then, you can activate your process that tracks every online and offline channel you travel to market your content.
You did develop these processes when you created your content strategy, didn’t you?
And does your process incude a step to update the slide deck that your research director created for the cell staining workshop that he’s leading at the NIH next week?
Governance describes all the activity that maintains and updates your existing content and helps you schedule and create new assets.
Scratching the content strategy surface
Forward-thinking groups have been applying content strategy for years, but with the publication of the Halvorson books, content strategy has blossomed into a formal discipline that enables practioners to save money and time while creating content more likely to persuade your customers.
This article discusses the concept and features of content strategy, but it’s only an introduction. Among other topics, we didn’t discuss content strategy for new product launches and whether or not additional issues come into play (spoiler alert—they do) and how to create a content strategy. We’ll touch on that in the next article in this series.
But until then, here are are few resources you might want to check out.
- How Content Strategy and Content Marketing Are Separate But Connected. Content Marketing Institute [Website]. Published October 16, 2013. http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2013/10/content-strategy-content-marketing-separate-connected/. Accessed November 6, 2013.
Alan Gerstein, SAMPS Digital Editorial Director, is an interactive content developer experienced at blending the oft-conflicting needs of users, clients, and search engines. Along the way he has developed strategies and information solutions to better support the training and education needs of the life science research community. He also had the good fortune to lead the efforts of nearly two-dozen researchers to create The Molecular Biology Problem Solver.
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