Create Content Quickly When You Don’t Have All The Information
Aug 15, 2017
We work with clients that operate in rapidly evolving industries, often marketing complex product offerings to many different types of stakeholders. There’s a lot of information about the target audiences we need in order to steer the content we produce, but the unfortunate reality is that we don’t always have the time or resources to gather that information before we can begin producing content. That’s a reality many marketers find themselves in.
Sometimes you have to move more quickly than you’d like to show progress to the business. So how do you start moving when you don’t have all the information? How do you produce content when you still have questions about your audience?
Anyone who has worked in a fast-paced industry will tell you that you never feel like you have all the information, you just learn how to embrace the discomfort. The key is learning how to operate responsibly when you haven’t yet solved for all the variables. When faced with challenges like this, we plan our content with two purposes in mind:
- Servicing the needs of our target audience
- Setting us up to learn more about our target audience
1. Servicing the Needs of Our Target Audience
The first purpose is the most straightforward. We want our content content to help our customers, either by answering a question, solving a problem, or supporting a task. To give us a starting point, we get our team together to document the answers to three questions about our audience:
- What information do we know to be factual?
This information is supported by quantitative and/or qualitative research.
- What information can we reasonably assume?
This information is not directly supported by research, but has a strong enough correlation to known facts that we feel comfortable moving forward with it. “We” is an important word here. Working as a team provides checks and balances.
- What information are we missing?
This information is not supported by research and does not strongly correlate to known facts.
The facts and assumptions give us a foundation for the content we will create and how that content will serve the primary objective of servicing the needs of our audience.
2. Setting Us Up to Learn More About Our Target Audience
In addition to helping our audience, we also want to learn more about them. To guide our efforts, we test the assumptions and attempt to collect some of the missing information the team documented. These types of information can be used to identify which variables we need to test.
For example, if we know that our audience works in a market where there are many different emerging technology concerns, but we don’t know which concerns are the most important to them, we can create smaller pieces of content about the different types of concerns we believe to be the most relevant, then monitor the consumption rate of each piece of content as well as the difference in future engagement and conversion rate of people who viewed the different pieces of content.
We can also support this with a social listening tool that allows us to track trends in conversation. Once we’ve collected more data, we can narrow our focus, producing additional content that aligns with the trends we observed, improving our customer engagement efforts.
The goal with each piece of content isn’t necessarily to test all our assumptions and collect all the missing information. Sometimes it’s helpful to narrow the focus to only collecting one new insight. We just want to get better so we set ourselves up to produce something better the next time.
If we take this dual-purpose approach with everything we create, we will eventually refine our content to the point that we’re providing exceptional customer experiences that help our customers and build loyalty.
I’ve always liked taking things apart. It wasn’t until I got a little older that I realized how much fun it could be to put something back together. It’s something special to dissect something unfamiliar, learn how it works and make it better than it was before. I like to bring this approach to any project I work on. My focus at Centerline is content strategy. When I’m presented with a problem, I rely on a formula of targeted observation and analysis to guide me towards the goal of providing valuable insights and recommendations.