The “not easy” part, particularly for content purveyors, is protecting that story as it
is being created. The greatest threat to compelling, branded content is losing the story along the way, on a road that's fraught with peril.
How do I lose thee? Let me count the ways:
Ideation by committee: Group participation in potential ideas for content creation is very effective. You never know where the next great idea will come from, and agencies, marketers and publishing partners are smart to collaborate across teams and functions in the early stages. However, once an idea has been formed, it’s time to step away from group consensus and enable a few people to carry out the project.
It can be tough to winnow that group to the doers. Everyone fancies themselves a storyteller. Content is hot these days, and people want to be a part of it. There’s no need to discourage anyone’s enthusiasm for content, but make sure you stay focused on creating compelling work that gets you noticed by customers and prospects.
It’s a good idea to appoint a single communicator within your organization, so even if a project conference call includes 12 participants or more, you can try to minimize the message being diluted by too many cooks in the kitchen. Solicit opinions, brainstorm behind the scenes -- but in larger conversations, speak with one voice.
The yes word: We all long to hear “yes," but sometimes uttering that simple three-letter word is the worst thing a content producer can do. A firm and honest “no” can be necessary to save a client or its creative agency from themselves. As content producers, we can evaluate more objectively and dissuade a client from doing something that could either damage its reputation with, or tune out, the very audience it is attempting to reach. Be courageous. Don’t be afraid to say "no" in service to the story and the brand.
Static on the line: Speaking of focus, I was chatting with a business
tech veteran this week who lamented that the latest round of consultants passing through his company headquarters had recommended major changes to sales materials. This firm has plenty of creative
agency support as well, but someone within the organization felt it necessary to speak with independent professionals to evaluate its current messaging.
Nothing wrong with getting a second opinion, but I think marketers sometimes feel they need to be all things to all constituents, creating multiple messages along the way, instead of focusing on brand cohesion. The power of one brand message -- think Apple -– cannot be underrated. The most powerful brands that seem to garner the most attention and loyalty are often those with a singular message. In the barrage of media messages streaming across devices and the physical landscape, customers are going to gravitate to those strong beacons.
Don’t fall prey to being all things to all people. Focus on what sets you apart in the maelstrom, stay focused on the story, and keep your team focused on creating great content. That’s a story with a happy ending.