12 Tips For Keeping Your Content Marketing Plan Creative
Fried vs scrambled. Batman vs The Joker. Order vs chaos. Strategy vs creativity. We often consider these to be opposing forces, but they regularly overlap and work together to create something great.
Take the final point as an example. When it comes to producing dazzling content, creativity is key, but it is also vital that there is a strategy in place to ensure the wheels keep turning. This is why content plans are crucial to successful, long-lasting engagement in video marketing.
Of course, you have to think creatively during every phase of the plan, otherwise you won’t keep your audience engaged in the long term. But in an age where more than 500 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube every minute and 86% of marketers believe video has helped to increase traffic to their website, producing consistent, creative, engaging content that cuts through the noise is incredibly important for brands.
Content plans hold the key to this, but how can we ensure that creativity isn’t stifled when planning ahead?
Get audience feedback early on
Direct audience feedback is invaluable to branding content and getting this as early as possible can make a real difference to how your content plan takes shape. Engaging with your audience and gathering their thoughts on your early forays into content marketing can give you a strong steer into where you should be taking it and how you direct your approach on an ongoing basis.
Without feedback, brands really are in the dark about how well their content is being received.
Build direct feedback into your next films
Gathering intel is one thing, but ensuring it is put into action is another. Ultimately, your audience votes with their feet, so any feedback you do manage to capture is like gold dust and has to be used proactively to inform your next steps.
This should be a continuous process – evaluating and re-evaluating content and your content plan so that you are putting out as much of what works as possible, and making sure that you are improving on what hasn’t landed well with your audience.
Flexibility in your planning
Of course, your content plan has to be solid, and you need to have your video marketing mapped out, but it also has to be flexible and agile. Current events are vital to engaging with your audience, so having the flexibility to push a piece of content back to make way for something more current, or bring a piece forward to fit in with what is happening in the world is important to driving engagement.
Being able to react quickly can give your brand a real boost, so make a content plan, but don’t stick religiously to it if an opportunity that is too good to pass up presents itself.
Mix up your method
There is an element of trial and error to developing a content marketing strategy that remains creative. One great way of keeping things fresh is to mix up how you deliver your message. Animation might work well for one target audience, whilst another might prefer video. One audience may prefer longer format, more informative videos, whilst others favour short, snappy, to the point content. Some engage more over social media, whilst others might focus on more traditional forms of media.
Again, you can glean this information from your consumer feedback, but it is important that you really understand what works for your audience and tailor your approach accordingly. Becoming wedded to one method or another can alienate prospective customers.
Data, data, data
The musing that data is the oil of the modern world is old hat now, but data is nevertheless a real market force in an increasingly digital age. Data analysis on your content has to be constant – giving insight into what topics, themes or techniques are working well for you, and which ones aren’t. Without this data, it is impossible to know what is landing with your audience, and what isn’t.
Data should be driving decisions at every phase of planning. Whilst some may see data analysis as the polar opposite of creativity, this actually isn’t the case. Data can be an enabler of creativity by allowing informed decisions to guide your creative team.
Keep stakeholders close
It is important that key people within your business are involved in content planning and strategy. Being able to bring your stakeholders on the journey and show them exactly what you have coming up breeds confidence in your method as it is likely to get validation from higher-ups, as opposed to just using a scatter gun approach which can look messy and unorganised.
It will also give content marketing teams the confidence to carry out their roles, as they know they have the backing of the rest of the business.
Align content to business objectives
Good content has to be aligned to business objectives, otherwise they simply won’t complement each other. If your company is rolling out a new product, or it starts to target a new audience, the content strategy must be in tune with this. This is why forward planning in conjunction with wider company strategy is paramount to success in content marketing.
Failing to do so will attract negative attention from the rest of the business, as well as leaving customers confused as to why they are hearing one thing from the sales team and seeing another from the marketing team.
Evenly promote content
Inevitably, the more a content is amplified, the better it does and the more people it reaches. The temptation is to pump resources into what you view to be your best and most impactful videos, but you should actually be looking to promote as evenly as possible so that every piece of content has its chance to shine.
If you weight content promotion in favour of certain pieces, you might get a false reading into which pieces are doing better than others, purely because they are more heavily promoted, rather than being a truly accurate picture of consumer sentiment.
Hold every piece to the same standards
This follows on from the previous point but is important in itself. Every piece of content you put out has to resonate with your brand, and if a piece doesn’t do that, then it shouldn’t go live. This is why forward planning and creativity mix so well together. With each piece fleshed out fully before it is created, you give yourself the best chance of producing consistently great content. Without planning and creativity coming together, this is incredibly difficult to achieve.
Focus on creative
Obviously, it is great when a video looks fantastic and polished, but a well-produced, lovely looking video that doesn’t have enough onus on the creative will inevitably fall flat. Of course, there has to be a balance of the two, but very few pieces of content – excluding videos like Nike’s brilliant You Can’t Stop Us advert, which blends the two perfectly – are ever lauded for their production. More often than not, it is the creative that really makes video content sing.
This doesn’t mean you can produce content marketing that looks below par, but too much focus on the production itself can impact creativity of the process, which is ultimately what drives engagement.
Remember that content is a long-term commitment
It is easy to get caught up in the moment and focus on the short-term when producing content, but it is important to keep an eye on the long-term as well. A thorough content plan can really help you to look to the future and adjust your course to best meet the needs of your customer. Without having a forward-looking plan, you might come unstuck and produce inconsistent content, both in terms of message and quality.
Keep the partnership with your creative agency strong
A good creative content agency should be highly collaborative and truly a partner, rather than just a service. This is a two-way relationship, so not only do the agency have to invest in you, but also you in them. By keeping the partnership strong, you give your agency the best chance to produce exactly what you want. You can steer them, let them know about what is happening at the company, discuss customer challenges and how they are changing and any share feedback you have gathered.
This gives you the best possible chance to create great content that will really make a difference to your brand.
Whilst many of these tips may seem basic or obvious, you would be amazed by how many companies don’t have a solid strategy for their digital marketing content. Planning and creative don’t have to be opposing forces. In fact, content works better when the two work together in a symbiotic relationship.
Understanding what your audience wants, and planning for that is crucial to success, but you also need to have creativity woven into the process at every phase. Whilst a plan is important, brands also need to have the ability to think on their feet and react quickly to what is happening in the world around them.
So next time you go out for breakfast, why not become a fry-up visionary and order scrambled and fried eggs?
If you are looking to find out more about content strategy, or looking to partner with a top creative agency, get in touch here.