Research, Insights + Strategy
Research, Insights + Strategy
The first step to creating any strategy - and especially a content strategy - is to understand your goals, audience, and competition.
Ideas without insights - especially coming from a group of people who usually are very far removed from the audience - are akin to throwing darts in the dark. Even the best ideas, without direction, won’t hit their mark.
There are three general insight categories that you’ll want to cover in order to give you the fodder for great ideas that hit their mark:
There are multiple dimensions to understanding your audience. Many companies stop at demographics (ie. “Millennials”), but what is more interesting are their psychographics.
While demographics will tell you age, gender, location, income, and other observable characteristics, psychographics dive deeper into behaviors, attitudes, desires, and interests. Psychographics cut across demographic lines and really help uncover the communities where your content will play a role.
Depending on what you are wanting to accomplish, you will be competing for the attention of your audience with much more than your category competitors.
When it comes to competitors, you’re looking at what they are doing: right and wrong. What people are responding to, what they are not. But you aren’t looking to become a carbon copy. You should learn from the competitors, but you should also use this research to figure out your unique angle. What is the competition missing? Use a gap analysis as well as a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis to bring the data together and get a good snapshot of where you should play.
The culture surrounding your audience and competitors can also be incredibly insightful. You’ll get leads to the culture through your audience insights, but the key things you are looking for here are: who are the ‘celebrities’ or influencers in this culture, what is the language (insider, slang, etc) used, what is the history, what are the emerging trends and behaviours?
Tara has developed her 'snorkle-scuba' method of research over the 16 years she's been combining her quantitative and qualitative analysis skills. Snorkle-scuba goes like this:
Step 1. Take in large swaths of data from multiple sources, both structured and unstructured.
Step 2. Pour over them in a shallow (or Snorkling) manner, looking for interesting anomalies or threads that look interesting.
Step 3. When there is a anomaly, take a deep dive into that data (or Scuba) to see if it leads anywhere surprising.
This is the most important part of any strategy. With the right kind of insights, your strategy falls into place naturally.
Quantitative + Qualitative Data
Structured + Unstructured Data
Market Research + Insights
Surveys + Questionnaires
Structured + Unstructured Interviews
Digital, Mobile + Social Strategy
Consumer Engagement Strategy
[photo + art credit: Jessica Esch on Flickr]
Content is an incredibly popular tactic right now and for good reason. There are so many ads and messages that are ignored by customers nowadays (who can blame them?). Content, if done right, has an opportunity to break through the clutter and add real value to a customer's daily life. Of course, content done the WRONG way just adds to the clutter of marketing messages. But Tara isn't about that.
When it comes to content, there are no 'best practices' and they should be avoided at all costs. Why? Because formulas just add to the noise. Instead, you should find your editorial voice and align your content to your strategy (which, of course, is driven by those insights). So how do you find your editorial voice? You take what you know and have to offer and find that sweet spot that overlaps with what your audience wants/needs and what they aren't being offered elsewhere:
With your goals set, your audience’ s interests and needs understood, it’ s time to wrap it up neatly in an editorial focus. This is the essence of everything you live and breathe. This will be wrapped up in a statement that states: who your intended audience is, what kind of content you are offering, and how you are unique to that audience.
For example, GE’s fantastic focus is, “we are a science, tech, and innovation online magazine; sort of in the same vein as Wired or Pop Science, or The Economist’s science and technology section.” Their differentiation comes from reporting on the unique science, tech, and innovation coming out of GE itself. They have the advantage of having an insider’s perspective.
Tara has been creating content strategies for clients for over a decade, including Justin Trudeau, Canada's current Prime Minister.
[Photo credit: 10ch on Flickr]
At SXSW 2015, Tara gave a workshop entitled Real Lessons in Working with Digital Influencers, which was attended by over 400 people. Tara has been working with YouTubers, Viners, Bloggers, Instagrammers, SnapChatters...you name it...for many years. As an influencer herself, she understands how to approach influencers and what makes for an authentic, successful collaboration between a brand and an influencer.
The photo above is of Tara and her friend 'Mamabee', one of the members of the EhBee family, who have over 2.6 million followers on Vine, and 7.5 million followers on Facebook. Their family-friendly comedy is appealing to many brands, but they are very selective who they work with. The brand and content need to be something their audience will enjoy.
Tara has built hundreds of relationships with digital influencers and is connected across platforms and verticals. She has held events called The Creator Talks, where she's had guests like AsapSCIENCE (>4.3million subscribers on YouTube) come and answer an intimate Q&A with marketers hungry to find out how they built their audience and how they can collaborate with them. These personal relationships give her access and expertise that not many marketers have.
Digital Influencer Marketing is the new PR, while their influence over your audience eclipses traditional celebrities and publications. Read more in Variety Magazine about this enormous shift.
Adobe Creative Suite (Illustrator, Photoshop, etc)
FinalCut Pro X/iMovie
Web Analytics (Multiple Platforms)
Search Engine Optimization
Paid Digital Campaigns
Copywriting + Editing
Analytics + Reporting
[photo of: Tara Hunt + Doc Searls on Flickr]