A recent project has led me for the first time to put my mind to what a content marketing framework could and should look like. The work belongs to the client (a major UK financial services retail brand) so I can’t show you the complete output but I can run you through the process, show you the bare bones of what we developed, and offer some tips on how to build your own. So, onward, in reverse order…
1. It’s yours, build your own
The context in which any solution needs to be of use defines almost entirely what that solution should be so don’t seek to transpose others’ solutions (including what you find here) to your own challenges and only research what others have produced to inform your thinking.
2. Find the balance between breadth and usefulness
Unless your framework shows the whole process of content production – from goal-setting through production to tracking and optimisation – it’s of little use. You’ll need others to cover any bits of the process and it’ll make it much harder to work from and share. But, it also needs to be detailed enough to actually guide execution. That poses a real challenge but not an insurmountable one.
3. Find the balance between current and long-lasting
It’s hard – especially with emerging channels and technologies – to ever produce a comprehensive list of relevant considerations since that list is likely to be outdated as soon as it is produced. So we have to find categorisations that survive innovations and allow ourselves to update the details within those categories constantly.
4. Test it. Change it
Models of operation like content marketing frameworks should cover all eventualities. If one scenario arises that the framework doesn’t help for, then the model needs changing. Don’t stick with it because it helps most of the time – it should help ALL of the time.
The below graphic shows the outline of what we came up with. It enabled the team in question to take what they labelled a ‘marketing request’ and run it through the framework to develop the scope of what they might or might not produce, then from brief to asset production, from asset to distribution, and from distribution to tracking and insights. It – eventually – passed our test scenarios and is in use as we speak.
To come up with what you see here we pursued a clear process. To jump from blank white-wall to a working content framework is daunting but focusing on each step, one at a time, breaks down a tough ask into an achievable goal.
Step 1: Establish the output goal
We made it clear what we were aiming to make – a graphic of some sort that acted as a working model for how to get from marketing request to content production and distribution. We checked out a few graphics that might help us imagine what we meant. We liked Vitae’s Researcher Development Framework, Jonah Berger’s STEPPS framework in Why Things Catch On, and, particularly, Chris Lake’s Periodic Table of Content Marketing for Econsultancy.
Step 2: ‘Brain dump’
Armed with magic markers and a group of people at the client that had to produce content day-to-day, we scribbled out all the issues that occurred to them; what they had to think about in the process of going from marketing request to content production and distribution. As they emerged we immediately started to categorise them until we had a comprehensive list of stuff to get into the model and categories they might fit under.
Step 3: Make it flow
Then’s the hard part: colliding all that ‘stuff’ in graphic form. The useful key was to think about what the flow was – in what order things needed to happen and, then, which pieces fit where. As it’s built, both the flow and the list evolve until you have your working model.
Step 4: Run some scenarios
Then we tested what we had with test scenarios. This process established a lot of what was missing and helped shape both the categories and the flow. When it didn’t break under a test we knew it was working.
So there you have it. Now go build your own and help bring some organisation to what can often be very chaotic.
(Featured image by Stephen Coburn: http://www.shutterstock.com/g/nruboc)