Many brands struggle with a model to follow for their content marketing efforts. So let’s apply the traditional four P’s of a marketing mix to the idea of marketing content.
- Price: Constantly calibrating content investment and return.
- Product: Producing content for which there’s a market demand. If content is your product, you also have to evaluate your cost of goods. This will ultimately help you evaluate the cost of producing an audience.
- Promotion: Connecting audience with your content.
- Place: Considering how the audience will experience your content.
Price, Product, Promotion & Place
The decisions marketers make in determining the four P’s are the same decisions the media make in marketing their content. This content mix has to be well thought out, as it sets a solid foundation for your content marketing.
As you can see by the visual above, this model also adds clarity to the roles of the various forms of media — each media resides conveniently at the intersection of each P. And like traditional marketing, finding a return on investment in content helps find equilibrium between its product and price
With this foundation in place, let’s review some principles in managing the mix.
Focus on Audience to Manage Your Content Mix
The whole point of developing a marketing model around content is because your audience has needs. The audience is the critical foundation at the center of seven principles needed to sustain the focus of your content marketing effort.
1) Audience: Can you talk beyond their needs or problems associated with your products or services? You must be able to broaden the conversation.
2) Communication: It takes content marketing to sell content marketing. If you can’t articulate your plan and prove it out, your program will not get off the ground. You must market your program internally. Communicate progress toward key performance indicators (KPIs), share efficiency stories, showcase the iteration process — be the experts in the organization who know how to engage audience with sustained story.
3) Data: Faster assets require fast data. Web analytics, search data, social data and even sales data can help inform what your audience is most interested in learning more about. And this data will also help optimize your efforts to increase your content’s effectiveness over time.
4) Efficiency: Over time, you’ll be able to show cost of the content based on the conversions you’ve made. You’ll even be able to get this down to the cost per page view.
5) Iteration: Once you’ve started a program, you need velocity and scale. This means having a small window for development of content and making sure the work around the work — approvals and selling a program internally — don’t slow your efforts down and impact your success.
Iteration is a critical principle in marketing. How many times have you observed the best communications not fulfilling their intended goal because the message wasn’t sustained? The media understand the need to repeat a message. And they’ve alleviated the barriers to getting multiple iterations of the message to market, while significantly reducing the work required to get the work done. The marketing communications process is simply inadequate in this regard.
6) Integration: Making sure your effort is integrated requires the right team. More than likely, you’ll be resource deficient. How will you get the work done? Consider your team structure. How are you integrated with brand management, and how is the editorial team working together?
Editorial teams are having to hire generalists instead of specialists. There are benefits to either approach. Keep in mind that a team of generalists are more likely to understand the bigger picture of marketing and how their roles impact the sum of your program’s parts.
The Seventh Principle: Lead & Lag KPIs
The seventh principle, KPIs, requires an understanding of lead and lag KPIs.
Lead KPIs help measure the impact of the media your brand creates on the audience. Some examples are traffic and reach goals, engagement and sharing as well as lead generation.
Lag KPIs help measure the impact of your media on the business. Some examples are awareness and trial goals, brand equity and conversions.
Making sure the lead and lag KPIs are mutually agreed upon and in line with the broader business goals is critical. This is important because the focus tends to be on lead KPIs and promoting internally how lead KPIs are performing.
It’s also important to build confidence in the program’s ability to build audience trust. This is the key to establishing faith in your ability to drive more long-term lag KPIs.
Content as a Marketer’s Product
With this structure as a guide, it becomes much simpler to evaluate your own content marketing efforts. Apply the four P’s to content marketing using the above visual.