Content Marketing

Creating Content with Purpose

Social networks, blogs, videos, podcasts, ebooks, and emails — oh my! As marketers, we have one of the most diverse toolboxes at our disposal that we’ve ever had in the history of our trade. As recently as 15 years ago, the answer to essentially any brand communications quandary was simple — run an ad.

While that may have included options like radio, TV, print, and outdoor, it’s nothing when compared to the multitude of channels we can use to broadcast our message today. The downside? An eager marketer can look at this list of tools and make it into a checklist, blindly thinking that doing all items is the best way to proceed. Not only are you running yourself ragged creating all of this stuff but you run the risk of creating generic content that no one wants.

How can you find the mediums that work best for your brand and create content with purpose? Interestingly enough, you can find a great lesson on aligning content with the right media decades before the Internet was even a glimmer in Al Gore’s eye.

By the Fireside

Outside of marketing books, I like to read a lot of US history books as well — specifically presidential biographies. Recently I finished The Defining Moment by Jonathan Alter about Franklin Roosevelt’s productive first 100 days in office. A critical component of the banking bills and economic packages that would bring America out of the Great Depression was communicating all of this to an unsteady nation that needed assurance. Were he alive today, Roosevelt probably would have loved social media. However, at the time he quickly gravitated to the newest medium of the day — radio.

Through his historic Fireside Chats, Roosevelt brought the nation together as community and explained what was happening and why it meant a brighter future was ahead. Hardly the first president to use radio, Roosevelt was the first to break the habit still observed by some politicians today of using a booming monotone easily dismissed as politicking. Rather, Roosevelt got the idea for a closer kind of broadcast when looking out his window at a worker on the White House grounds. Amidst the throes of legislation, FDR felt that he needed to say something personally to Americans everywhere.

Take a moment and listen to his first Fireside Chat explaining the banking bill and hear for yourself. It’s worth noting that his content, style, and delivery sound much like the best podcasts of our era.

What Your Brand Can Learn

In short, the media fit the message. This is something to ask yourself when approaching the next outpost on your marketing checklist. What is your brand working to accomplish online and could the next shiny new thing like Pinterest really help with that? Or are you just creating a profile because it’s buzzworthy? Avoid getting caught up in the whirlwind of what’s new. Focus instead on saying something effectively to your community and answering their questions like FDR did.

The other content take-away from the Fireside Chats? Many remember Roosevelt being on the radio every week. In fact, he only broadcast 30 chats in his 12 years in office. These messages had such an impact that listeners remembered them as being more present than they were. Plus, ever the savvy communicator, Roosevelt knew that you always leave your audience wanting more.

Filling a Need

Roosevelt didn’t just say, “I want to do a radio show because it’s a cool new thing!” Put another way, as the children’s movie Robots reminds us, as content marketers we need to be sure we are, “seeing a need and filling a need.” Social media conversations and content are not just checklist items to pick off as they emerge. You need to do what makes sense to your brand and what fills your audience’s need.

What’s behind your next marketing effort? Do you have a clear strategy and purpose in place or are you doing it just for the sake of doing it?

Photo via Flickr user Koshyk