I’m a sucker for mnemonics.
I actually remember how to spell it as “Me Nomics Except M not N In Case Spelling”.
OK, that’s a lie. But I dare say that ChatGPT could never offer that.
Anyway, one of my favorite idea-memory devices comes from my hero Philip Kotler. He boils down his perfect definition of marketing to CCDVTP – Creating and Communicating Value to a Target for Profit.
I rely on this mnemonic device when someone asks what is the best definition of the marketing function in a company.
However, what makes a great mnemonic like CCDVTP is that each word represented by the letter has something deeper behind it. So it’s not just six words, but six operational concepts with definitions that are easier to remember by simply remembering how the six words go together.
A mnemonic device for content strategy
I wrote about the standard framework for developing or strengthening your content strategy. It is one of core modules of a CMI University course. There can be a lot to take in as the framework’s concepts and definitions need to be explained at different levels of detail.
So recently I created a mnemonic device to use in my explanation – the 5 C’s: Coordination And Collaboration produce Content Before Containers and do Canals measurable.
It works as a basic or high level definition of a content marketing strategy. But, like Kotler’s CCDVTP, it also allows me to delve deeper into the framework’s five concepts or pressure points. Let me explain:
The primary goal of a content strategy is to develop and manage core responsibilities and processes. Additionally, they enable marketing to continuously build and assess the resource allocation, skills, and charters the marketing team needs to make content a business strength.
Most companies that don’t have this C struggle with content as a repeatable or measurable approach. Like I said, content is everyone’s job in many companies and nobody’s strategy. A key element of a content strategy is the emphasis on building coordination into how ideas become content and ultimately generate business value.
In many companies, content is developed in silos, especially with sales and marketing. Sometimes it can be split by channel – web, email and sales teams don’t work together. In other cases, it may be by function – PR, sales, marketing, branding and demand generation have different approaches.
Content is a team sport. The work of practitioners is not to be good at content, but to allow the company be good at content. Scalability only happens through an efficient and collaborative approach to turn ideas into content and experience content.
Content before containers
As marketers, you are trained to think containing first and then contained. You start with “I need a webpage”, “I need an email”, or “I need a blog post”. Then your next step is to create content specific to that container.
I can’t tell you how many great ideas I’ve seen trapped in the context of a blog post just because that’s how it was crafted. I’ve also seen the reverse – small ideas turned into an e-book or white paper because someone wanted that digital asset.
This pressure point requires thinking backwards about your company’s process for creating content. The first step should be to create fully formed ideas (big and small) and then (and only then) figure out which containers and how many might be appropriate.
My test to see if marketing teams put content before containers is to look at their inquiry or contact form. Does it say, “What kind of content do you need?” and list options, such as email, white paper, e-book, and brochure? Or does it say, “Please explain the idea or story you want to develop in more detail?”
I deliberately put channels last because they express the type of content you create. Channels dictate how you ultimately reach customers and how customers will get to your content. Which or how many of your content channels do you treat like a media company would?
Is your business blog really audience-centric, or is it focused on your product or brand? Is it a repository where you put everything from news about your product and how to use it to what to expect in the future and how other customers are using your product?
What about your social media, website, newsletters, and thought leadership center? What is their raison d’être and their editorial strategy? How do you evolve your content products as your audience changes, like a media company does? Without a clear strategy for each channel, content measurement becomes guesswork at best.
As you review your strategic approach to content, I hope the 5Cs mnemonic device helps you have the necessary conversations about coordination, collaboration, content before containers, and channels with your business stakeholders.
It’s your story. Say it well.
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute