Content Rules of Engagement
I'm gonna talk you through a series of what I think of as content marketing rules of engagement. These are specific rules for turning the customer insights and customer journey map that we've been talking about into content. Then I'm gonna walk us through a case study that kind of extends on a case study that we've done in the previous classes of how we did this at MyFitnessPal. So from the customer journey point to how did we actually translate these things into specific types of content. The reason I'm doing this in two ways, these really specific rules and then the case study, is that back when we did that program, it was like us just being like, these people have this problem, we're going to help them solve this problem. There weren't fancy rules then. There are fancy rules now, and they work, but I kind of am saying that to say that even if you don't, can't, you should listen to the rules, let them get in your spirit. But the whole point is to understand your customers' problem an...
d to solve their problem with content. If you've taken that away, you've gotten. You got the message. Rule of engagement number one is just that engaging content is content that removes resistance and triggers progress along your customer's transformational journey. How that works is this. So these are like the kind of equation rules. The stages of their journey, the places they get stuck, the things that get them unstuck, those patterns you spotted, they tell you what problems people are having that you can solve with content, and they tell you what content will resonate with them at different stages of the journey. Now, it's your job to take that and turn it into what I call evergreen message pillars. Now, doing this requires that you have enough of a content strategy to have evergreen message pillars. So let's talk about what that means because there are many people actually doing a pretty good job with content, just going like, I think they want to know this, I'm gonna write a post about that. Creating message pillars means that you've zoomed out a little bit on your content strategy from that perspective, that you're actually, you've actually selected some key frictions, quit points, resistance points, progress triggers, and you've decided to build core messages about them into a foundational set of messages from your brand that you're gonna, that span all of your content programs. So I'm not talking here about like, what's gonna go on the blog next week. I'm saying at the point in time when you're, you've done your customer journey map, you've started to pick certain customer problems that you think you can help solve with content, you're going to create a set of evergreen message pillars, messages that you're going to use across all of your content programs. And then you can get more granular from there, so we'll talk about that too. Now, the reason I have natural language in here is that it is the natural language, remember the quotes, the literal words that came out of your customers' mouths over and over again, that gives you the superpower of making your message pillars be almost in your customers' words, be almost things that you can put into subject lines or into posts and know that people will engage with them because they've heard them. So this is like, the natural language is the things like bad backs, like we talked about, or what to do when people push food on me. And then, we will, and yes, they actually, if you do your message pillars with some level of natural language present in them, whatever comes out of them tends to have more credibility with customers because it just sounds more real than if you were like, we as a business would like to solve for the problem of disconnection and we're going to do that by publishing posts about avoidant behavior. That doesn't really translate neatly into blog posts that people care about. One thing that I thought was really helpful about what Joanna just mentioned is the role of business objectives in this. Now, you can create content that's really super engaging, that people click on and it's super entertaining and does nothing to actually drive your business objectives. They know that their app is an audio app, that it's helpful for people. People want to hear samples of what it's like, so that would have had something to do with the decision of publishing content in that format. The objectives that you have for the business plus the knowledge of what questions your customer is asking when gets you to the granular point of decision making about what content you publish and what medium and what format and what the substance of it is and when, on what outlets. So for example, let's see, when we decided we wanted to start publishing recipe content to solve for some of our customers' cooking problems, we got, we knew that we had a couple of business objectives. First, we had the business objective of engaging existing customers and solving for their problems, but we also were, we had our products team working against the same customer journey map that we did and we knew we were going to be launching some recipe logging tools soon. So we created recipe content that made sense for our customers' questions about calorie logging and calorie limits and meals and their food being bad that they cooked. And we put it on a bunch of recipe outlets. So we had our business development team actually assist us in getting relationships with outlets like Cooking Light and some of the other sites that ran big recipe programs, all of which were desperately hungry for content, so just the fact that we would provide them with reliable content was a win for them. And because we had some business objectives around people logging all the time, we always made sure it had nutritional content information in the recipes. So that's how your business objectives plus your micro-moments tell you kinda what content to put where and when to do it in your customer's journey. Now, what Joanna was just talking about when she says, hey, we listen and see what performs and monitoring that in real-time, that's kinda what I call engagement marketing. Not just publishing the things that are on your editorial calendar, but listening to them over time, reading what's in the reviews, reading what people say in the comments, seeing what people are sharing and monitoring that, and then making new decisions about what to put on your editorial calendar and which directions to go in, that's engagement marketing versus, most people think of it's like growth marketing. So for example, before I would ask for a ton of money to go out and build a full blown recipe program, I made a hypothesis based on my customer insights that people might like this kind of content. So we just did a few. And then we saw what kind of worked and we saw what didn't really. People don't like fish. I love fish, other people don't like fish. Something that you mentioned that I thought was really helpful was the flyover states. Depending on where you're at, you have to know who your audience is. And our audience was a very mainstream audience who did not have a taste for exotic food. So literally, anything that sounded like it could have been a food from any ethnicity, not interested. There were just things that we saw that performed and didn't. We also saw that people didn't like recipes with a lot of steps to them, so we would put together recipe roundups, we would put together templates, like mason jar templates for salads. You could just throw, mix these kinds of things together. That kind of stuff performed really, really well. So paying attention to what people are responding to, and we just did that with a weekly editorial meeting, we came up with a dashboard and looked at that, and I still do that, even if with a much smaller team in business, every time I send out a newsletter, I pay attention to who opened it, who clicked on it, what kind of feedback did I get back. I always make sure that I send my newsletters from an e-mail people can reply to, "Really? Really?" Then I can see what they say. And then I turn that into more and more and more. So from some of the original feedback that we got and just wild performance metrics, we would increase a newsletter. We would do it a couple times a week instead of just one time a week. We would dial up or down what we did. We would do special reports or cookbooks based on the fact that something was performing really well. And ultimately, our product team would notice the things that, so we would give reports at our weekly all-hands and say, hey this was really a hit this week, and if you are in the content business, you're kind of in the hit business. You need to be paying attention to what a hit is for you. So we would kind of report to the company, first as a matter of just like internal PR, hey guys, here's this thing that we heard our customers ask for and we did it and they really liked it. Just that actually kind of institutionalizes and memorializes your customer journey stuff, gets people to buy in, gets people on board with it. But then when they hear that over and over again, product gets interested. And they're like, okay maybe that's a thing we should actually do something in the product for, if people are that, I see one product manager in the audience going, yes, we do, that would be good. Because you know what, it takes a bunch of pressure off of them. They're constantly being asked to come up with new product features, like they don't know if they're gonna work or not. So this takes a ton of pressure off when you know that something is already highly demanded from your audience, it makes sense to use content as R&D for product. Also, when you do that a couple of times successfully, content gets a lot more budget, has been my experience. You have much less hard time asking for the resources that you need to do what you need to do when your content program results are disseminated throughout the company in a way that is useful for the whole company and not just for you.