Content Is King, Part II: Why You Need To Document Your Strategy With A Content Playbook

06.01.2021 Blog
By Briagenn Adams, Content Manager

Summary: Having a content strategy is good; having a content playbook is better. A content playbook serves as your digital marketing team’s single source of truth when planning campaigns and developing content that will ultimately convert. In this article, I explore five reasons why you need to document how everything gets done.

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Digital marketing is a massive domain that spans the world wide web. If you’re not well versed, you’re likely to get lost – fast. At a high level, digital marketing refers to advertising that’s delivered through a variety of channels such as search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media, email campaigns, mobile apps, influencer programs, livestream events, you name it. Luckily, they ALL have one major thing in common: CONTENT.

In my last “Andrew’s Advantage” article, we explored WHY content is still king in today’s tech-obsessed society, and I explained four rules you need to follow to ensure it converts. That’s all fine and dandy, but what’s the next step? You can’t just create content in silos and expect your strategy to fall into place. To truly find success, you NEED to document your process and memorialize your approach in a Content Playbook.

What Is A Content Playbook?

If you’re a marketer, you’ve likely heard of a “content playbook,” or content marketing playbook as many people call it. Basically, a content playbook is a designated space to document the proven target audiences, content methods, distribution techniques, production processes, and KPIs that help to successfully execute and evaluate a content strategy. A content playbook serves to unify your company’s goal for content and provide an actionable recipe or roadmap to follow on future projects.

Although marketers generally recognize the need for content (whether or not they actually follow through…), many of them don’t have any type of content playbook. According to Marketing Insider Group, “65% of the most successful marketers report having a documented strategy, compared to only 14% of the least successful.” It sounds crazy; why wouldn’t EVERYONE do it? Chances are, the people who fall behind are so stuck in the weeds they neglect to document how anything gets done.

Look, I get it. When you’ve got 50 things on your to-do list, a content playbook may seem like a low priority. But in 2021, that’s no longer an excuse! If you want to successfully navigate the word of digital marketing and fully execute your content strategy, you need a content playbook to fall back on. Not convinced yet? Here’s five good reasons why:

1)    When You Write Something Down, You’re More Likely To Do It

There’s a reason why so many people still prefer physical pen-and-paper to-do lists over digital ones. When you write something down, you’re more likely to do it. It’s a psychological phenomenon with real-world results. According to a study on goal setting, you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. By documenting your strategy in a content playbook, you can clearly define WHAT you want to accomplish and WHY, and layout the specific steps that you’ve pre-determined are necessary to meet your goals. And by presenting your full strategy to your team and/or client in the form of a content playbook, you can ensure everyone’s on the same page from the get-go. It’s called transparency, and it’s the #1 key to aligning your team around a common mission.

2)    There’s No “I” In Content – You Need Everyone Aligned

When you’re operating an entire team of marketing experts or getting feedback from outside sources like sales associates and customer service reps, it can be easy to get distracted from your long-term content goals. In other words, when there’s too many cooks in the kitchen, something’s gonna get burnt. By documenting your strategy in a content playbook, you have a single source of truth that you can rely on when the marketing waters get muddy. It can help you prioritize your to-do list and easily say no to projects that don’t align with where you ultimately want to go. Consider creating a “checklist” of sorts that you can compare potential campaigns against – will it resonate with your target audience? Does it reach the most important channels? You get the idea.

3)    Learn From Mistakes; Identify Opportunities For Improvement

It’s important to have a plan. That said, a content strategy should not be a stagnant, unchanging thing. If something isn’t working, it’s okay (and encouraged!) to try a different approach. By tracking your progress and checking in on the status of campaigns, you can learn from any misjudgments and adjust course when necessary. If you DO stray from your original plan, that’s fine. Just be sure to write down, aka DOCUMENT, your decision to switch up your strategy and provide a why – like, we only got 5 clicks on an ad that should have gotten 500. That way, you can justify your decisions to key stakeholders and prove your dedication to ROI. By measuring your success and identifying opportunities for improvement, you can help your strategy thrive in the long-term.

4)    Solidify Your Brand Voice & Keep It Consistent Across Channels

At the beginning of any content playbook, you should establish your brand’s unique promise of value, and then ensure all the content you create speaks to that original statement. As I mentioned in my last article, you need to focus on keeping things consistent if you want to build a recognizable brand identity and maximize your industry impact. No matter what communication channel you’re pushing content through, it should always be consistent and clearly communicate who you are and what you stand for. A content playbook is an excellent tool that you can refer back to in case you need confirmation that a piece of content “fits” your promise of value and unique position in the industry, and it can also help you train new employees on appropriate types of content to produce.

5)    Produce More Content That Converts

Let’s go back to the basic industry definition of content marketing: it’s a “technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” Read that again: the objective of driving PROFITABLE customer action. With a content playbook, you can evaluate what type of content has previously converted the most with your target audience. Then, you can double down on that approach while also A/B testing new methods of communication and promotion. Content marketing is a delicate dance, and it can seem like a new channel pops into popularity every week. Your content playbook will serve as your marketing team’s guiding light to illuminate a future of successful planning.

A Content Strategy Is Good; A Content Playbook Is Even Better

Your standards for creating content should always be high, but a content playbook will help you actually develop those all-important standards in the first place! Then, you can check on the status of your campaigns before, during, and after they happen to evaluate their performance against pre-existing goals. A content playbook helps keep you honest and provides valuable insight into your job as a digital marketer. If you need help creating your very own content playbook, BDSmktg can help. Our talented digital and social media team can dive into your data to figure out what works and what doesn’t, and then establish a content playbook that will more consistently convert your target audience.