Spring '14 Video

March 2-5, 2014 | Huntington Beach, California

The keys to developing a strong content strategy


As the digital marketing landscape continues to evolve, how can marketers create the most effective content to solve their business objectives? Here's why going back to the basics is a good place to start.

Digital marketers today are faced with an overwhelming amount of potential ways to reach consumers with their content. In his keynote presentation at the iMedia Content Summit in Huntington Beach, Calif., Chris Cox, senior manager of global digital marketing at The Hershey Company, stressed that when it comes to building strong content, it pays to stick to the basics.

YouTube, iPhones, GoPro cameras, and the rapid growth of mobile media consumption have all changed the game for how marketers create content. Now anyone can be a creator. It's easy for brands and agencies to be tempted by new technologies; many suffer from "shiny-ball syndrome," as Cox calls it. Regardless of whether your content is created in-house, by agency partners, or a third-party specialist, the same questions always apply: Who, what, where, and why?

To keep it simple, brands should start by asking two basic -- but vital -- questions. First, who is your target audience? And second, what do you want them to do? "Whether you learned about marketing 30  years ago or 30 days ago, marketing starts with these fundamental principles," Cox said.

Once you've laid the foundation with these two questions, Cox recommends focusing on his "5 Es" in order to build the most effective content strategy:

  • Educational: People come online for solutions, and they want to be informed by your brands' products or services.
  • Economic: Money still matters. Whether it's a coupon or a financial incentive on Twitter or Facebook, people are always looking for a good deal.
  • Entertaining: Mobile's prevailing success stems from the notion that people, more than ever, want content that's fun and gratifying -- at a moment's notice.
  • Engaging: Your content should hold the consumer's attention and stand the test of time.
  • Emotional: The most important, yet the most overlooked, factor is having an emotional connection with your consumers through your content.

Cox emphasized that brands need to define strong values and establish clear boundaries in their content strategies in a way that enables them to confidently state, "This is who we are, and this is where we're going." And again, Cox emphasized that simplicity helps. He reminded attendees of the basic notion that a brand makes a promise to its consumers, and the extension of that promise is great content, great themes, and great stories that will stand the test of time.

Betsy Farber is an associate editor at iMedia Connection.

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