I’m a sucker for mnemonics.
In fact, I remember how to spell it by “Me Nomics Except M nOt N In Case Spelling.”
OK, that’s a lie. But I daresay ChatGPT could never come up with that.
Anyway, one of my favorite idea-remembering devices comes from my hero Philip Kotler. He reduces his perfect definition of marketing to CCDVTP – Create and Communicate Value to a Target at a Profit.”
I lean on that mnemonic device when anyone asks about the best definition of marketing’s function in a business.
However, what makes a great mnemonic like CCDVTP is that each word the letter represents has something deeper behind it. So it’s not just six words – it’s six operating concepts with definitions made easier to remember by just remembering how the six words go together.
A mnemonic device for content strategy
I’ve written about the standard framework for developing or strengthening your content strategy. It’s one of the core modules of a CMI University course. It can be a lot to take in because the framework’s concepts and definitions need to be explained in varying levels of detail.
So, recently, I created a mnemonic device to use in my explanation – the 5 Cs: Coordination and Collaboration produce Content before Containers and make Channels measurable.
It works as a core or high-level definition of a content marketing strategy. But, like Kotler’s CCDVTP, it also lets me drill into the framework’s five concepts or pressure points. Let me explain:
The primary purpose of a content strategy is to develop and manage core responsibilities and processes. In addition, they allow marketing to build and continually assess resource allocation, skill sets, and charters the marketing team needs to make content a business strength.
Most businesses that lack this C struggle with content as a repeatable or measurable approach. As I’ve said, content is everyone’s job in many businesses and no one’s strategy. A key element of a content strategy is a focus on building coordination into how ideas become content and ultimately generate business value.
In many businesses, content is developed in silos, especially with sales and marketing. Sometimes, it may be divided by channel – web, email, and sales teams don’t work together. In other cases, it may be by function – PR, sales, marketing, brand, and demand generation have different approaches.
Content is a team sport. The practitioners’ job is not to be good at content but to enable the business to be good at content. Scalability only happens through an effective, collaborative approach to transforming ideas into content and content into experiences.
Content before containers
As marketers, you are trained to think container first and content second. You start with “I need a web page,” “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 big ideas I’ve seen trapped in the context of a blog post simply because that was how it was conceived. I’ve also seen the reverse – small ideas spun into an e-book or white paper because someone wanted that digital asset.
This pressure point requires reverse thinking about your business’ process to create content. The first step must 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 whether marketing teams put content before containers is to look at their request or intake 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’d like to develop more fully?”
I purposely put channels last because they express the kind of content you create. Channels dictate how you ultimately reach the customers and how the customers will access your content. Which or how many of your content channels do you treat as a media company would?
Is your corporate blog truly centered on the audienceor is it centered 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 use your product?
What about your social media, website, newsletters, and thought leadership center? What is their purpose and editorial strategy? How do you evolve your content products as your audience changes as a media company does? Without a clear strategy for every channel, the measurement of content becomes guesswork at best.
When you examine your strategic approach to content, I hope the 5Cs mnemonic device helps you have those necessary conversations around coordination, collaboration, content before containers, and channels with the stakeholders in your business.
It’s your story. Tell it well.
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute
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