5 Ways to Ensure Your Content Marketing Lands Well

August 2020

woman reading tablet

Image: Getty Images

The custom content order made it clear this piece of content marketing would be a challenge. Not because of the topic—pharmacogenomics—but because of the target audience: pretty much everyone in healthcare. And I had 750 words to satisfy senior executives, clinicians and frontline IT professionals.

Anyone in content marketing will tell you that’s a tall order. Executives think strategically and seek top-line information to make better informed decisions around organizational growth. Those further down the corporate food chain want details on deployments and use options. Marrying both mandates into a two-page brief is difficult, but here’s what we did to satisfy the client.

1. Nail down the end goal of a marketing campaign

Each piece of content should serve a specific purpose in a marketing campaign. An initial meeting with all stakeholders—marketers, copywriters, editors, designers for both client and contractors—is essential. This is where a project goes from idea to implementation with everyone on the same page. Ask questions of the client to ensure everyone similarly interprets the assignment and end goal. This will save enormous time on revisions.

2. Home in on tone, learning points

Marketing content provides value to a client by promoting brand recognition and thought leadership. But there also needs to be a strong value proposition for consumers. Make sure the client understands that the intent is to provide content that educates, not just entertains. Home in on tone, voice and artistic direction so it’s consistent with branding. Share style guides and define the target reader or viewer using personas. Do you want an infographic on innovations on a topic aimed at parents, merchants or scientists? Each of these personas seeks different information on the same topic.

3. Pick your subject matter experts carefully

Here again you need input from the client to ensure you talk with people who can be quoted. Internal sources may be great but can’t help ‘selling’ the brand in their responses. External sources may appear more vendor-neutral but require prior approval from their employer. Embed time to tackle pre-interview issues and any back-up plans should someone bow out of participation.

4. Map interview questions to ideal readers and viewers

Always prepare questions in advance and share with your experts when possible to help an interview stay on track and on time. It’s fine to revise on the fly or add follow-up queries based on responses, but with content marketing versus journalism, advanced topics help your expert prepare more thoughtful answers. Arrange questions around those selected learning points and make sure they elicit responses that satisfy the target audience. In other words, keep it high level for an executive reader and get into the weeds for practitioners who already have a broad understanding. They want tactical advice delivered in a compelling narrative—something that’s new to them, not you.

5. Seamlessly meld background research and interviews

Circling back to that earlier example on pharmacogenomics, I did a lot of research into the topic before I interviewed an expert in the field. And I kept the interview with the head of an academic medical center at a high level, with some specific use cases woven in to satisfy all readers. For those looking for more details, link to deeper dives within the brief. This should satisfy the range of readers and, especially, the client.

A final word about those interviews: Know when to go off script. If the talk flows naturally, there may be useful information embedded in answers that steers the content in a slightly different direction. You’ll know if it’s important by asking the final question all writers do during an interview: “Was there anything else we should talk about or that you want to emphasize from earlier?”

Thanks for reading this,