How many of us as children wrote a message, put it in a bottle and threw it out to sea, with the joyous trepidation that someone might find it and read what we scrawled. If, and this would be a big if, someone found it, would they be interested, would they share it with someone else or would it be discarded as junk?

How many of us would use this method of communication today? If messaging isn’t well targeted, packaged correctly and disseminated through the right channels to reach those you want to communicate with, we may as well have thrown that bottle in the sea!

Content marketing emerged in 2013 as the top digital priority for B2B and B2C marketers, nudging out the former front-runner – social media engagement (Econsultancy/Adobe, 2013). Yet two years on and so many of us are still not getting it right.

Good marketing means, know who you want to communicate with, find out what they want to know and through which channels they want to hear/see it.

Let’s think about that bottle again, what kind of bottle would you choose to reflect your organisation? What colour or shape would it be, where to position your branding? So many choices and how to get it right, for we all know first impressions count. If the conduit in which you deliver your message isn’t attractive or appealing to your audience, why should they open it? We all lead busy lives, with 100s of emails in our inboxes daily or even hourly. Giant advertising boards vying for our attention with digital graphics designed to hit our peripheral vision, articles written to tease and influence our purchasing preferences all this on top of the day job.

To successfully deliver messaging to your target audience, stand out from the competition, be noticed or more importantly be selected, you need to plan, act and deliver.

Why oh why do we therefore continually put out product, service or brand messages via multiple untargeted channels and expect the people we wanted to share it with to find it.

The solution is simple, set objectives, who what and where. Only put relevant messaging (or now we’ll term it content) out to those who you want to hear it, don’t mass advertise and have significant waste.

Coca-Cola spends more money creating its own content than it does on television advertising, according to the Columbia Journalism Review. This tells us that Coca-Cola has taken the time to get to know its customers, giving them the right messages at the right time. Who didn’t reject several bottles on the supermarket shelves in the search for the one with their name on! I suppose in this context a message in a bottle wasn’t bad after all.

Having a clearly defined, and documented content strategy will increase commercial return, supporting business development objectives and sales revenue targets.

Therefore, when planning your next communications campaign, think of three golden rules:

  1. What do I want to say?
  2. Who do I want to say it to?
  3. How am I going to successfully deliver it to them?

And maybe a fourth, why should they take the time to read/listen/hear what you have to say, what’s in it for them?

It’s all common sense really, but many of us forget the basics and get caught up in fancy graphics and wizzy videos. At the end of the day, invest in the process then sit back and reap the rewards.

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