Content marketing consists of content. With it everything is already said that can be formulated among communication experts so to some extent without contradiction. However, there seem to be infinitely many ways to good content. For vibrio, content marketing is always about two sources:
- Messaging contains all topics that come from the egocentric world view.
- Issue management contains the topics of the market in which we have to interfere.
Messaging and topic management are the two cornerstones of content marketing.
Content marketing always consists of two components: messaging, which leads to an elevator pitch for external communication and a model process for internal communication, and topic management.
In messaging, we determine the positioning of the company, which is rarely communicated directly in content marketing, however, but is transported via topics from issue management or topic management. In content management, companies rarely talk directly about themselves. Rather, they communicate their views on selected topics of the time discussion on which they make themselves mediators. They position themselves “through the eyes of their target groups”.
With content marketing, corporate communication becomes empathic.
Messaging and issue management together define our topics in content marketing: for traditional PR, but also for social media marketing. But they define not only the topics, but also the core terms, i.e. the keywords with which the company wants to be found in search engines. A wording manual, in which messaging and issue management are fixed in writing and reviewed annually, is therefore always also an instrument within the framework of the SEO strategy.
Messaging is the first source for content marketing
The Elevator Pitch
The core of every storytelling is the so-called elevator pitch. But what can you imagine under such an elevator pitch?
Suppose you are at a congress or conference. After a long day full of exciting lectures, you are standing at the elevator on the ground floor in the evening and want to drive up to your hotel room. In front of the elevator door you come across – you can imagine it the way you want it – a beautiful young colleague or an attractive young gentleman and you think: What is possible?
And now you have time to take care of your counterpart – and only as much time as you need to be upstairs and get out. Since the congress is taking place in the USA, we say in Las Vegas, and the hotels there are a little higher than ours, you have exactly one and a half minutes for this action. And exactly what happens in this elevator is an elevator pitch.
The elevator pitch attracts attention. And since you can’t tell the whole stunning story in 1:30, the Elevator Pitch should first arouse your interest. You want your counterpart above to say: “That sounds interesting. We should definitely continue this conversation. Maybe we’ll meet tonight at the bar…?”
The Elevator Pitch is supposed to make you curious for more. The Elevator Pitch tells the story of the company in 1:30 minutes. Every employee should be able to use the Elevator Pitch to present their company in their own words in one and a half minutes so that a first concrete impression is made and that the interviewer is interested in closer contact and further information.
But why do you need an elevator pitch? Isn’t it enough for you – the boss – to know how your company works? No, that’s not enough! Because especially in change processes you are dependent on your employees “pulling along”, that they change with you.
If you now believe that everyone in your company already knows where you’re going and you don’t need an elevator pitch, then simply ask five employees – including members of management – to come to your office one by one on a trial basis and have them introduce you to the company in one and a half minutes: Goals, mission statement, profile in competition – of course without company brochure and cheat sheet. If you are presented with five companies that really have nothing to do with each other, then it’s time to formulate an elevator pitch. That will be the case in nine out of ten medium-sized companies. Promised!
Corporate Vision and Mission Statement
At the core of every Elevator Pitch are the Corporte Vision and the Mission Statement. The Corporate Vision provides the answer to the question: Which fundamental technological, economic or societal trends are the most important?
do we see that determine our business? The Mission Statement provides the answer to the question: What contribution do we make to implementing the trends defined in the Corporate Vision?
Both can be explained wonderfully using Microsoft as an example:
The corporate vision of Microsoft was already defined by Bill Gates in the seventies: “One day, there will be a PC on every desk and in every home …“.
And the mission statement was the continuation of that sentence:
“… with software from Microsoft!”
Let’s move on to the Unique Selling Proposition, the next element of content marketing. The Unique Selling Proposition answers the questions: What distinguishes us from our competitors? What hard facts make us unique?
Defining a USP is difficult because products and services are becoming more and more interchangeable. If you are honest, there is certainly not only one competitor on the market who can do what you produce or offer.
No, defining a USP is very simple: many elements in their combination make up your profile. To find this unique combination, we usually conduct a competitive SWOT analysis with our customers.
Imagine a bar. The “raw materials” are largely the same in every bar. But you are the bartender! The drink you create from the standard ingredients can be very unique.
An example: the USP of the agency vibrio:
- There are around 10,000 communication and PR agencies in Germany,
- but only about 1,000 of them specialize in products and technologies that require explanation;
- of these, only about 100 understand something about integrated marketing from consulting, PR, advertising, dialogue marketing and social media marketing;
- of these, only about ten are owner-managed;
- of these there is probably only one agency, which is locally present in all three large German-speaking countries Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
In this combination vibrio is indeed unique. The USP can therefore only be defined by deduction. Because many actually offer what we do. Maybe not so good, but … 😉 And with this picture we explained how storytelling really works: in pictures and stories.
ESP and the mission statement in storytelling
In storytelling, this unique selling proposition is now complemented by an emotional selling proposition. The ESP describes the “type”, the “character” of the company. How does a company “tick”? What makes up its specific corporate culture? The Emotional Selling Proposition answers the questions: What distinguishes us from our competitors? What soft factors make us unique?
ESP lays the foundation for the “mission statement”. A brand is defined not only by a mission statement and objective USPs or benefit promises, but also by “soft” and emotional factors. This applies in particular to the internalization of brands by employees (not only after company mergers and in change management).
A mission statement can best be formulated in images, in animal images, in brands, in professions or the like. Let’s take as an example a publisher for whom we have developed the Bar-Mixer mission statement in the past. It was a specialist publishing house. And here the readers were to determine the topics. The publishing house itself only wanted to be a “Lifetime Companion”, a good advisor in all situations. A typical barman who always has an open ear.
By the way, this is the – to be taken literally – LeitBILD of the agency vibrio:
The visual mission statement of vibrio was created in a storytelling workshop.
The promise of benefits
The last element of our messaging in content marketing is the listing of the specific benefit promises for target groups. Here we are very close to the product range, the features and their benefits for different target groups. The definition of the target groups is a matrix of industry typology, decision maker function and company typology.
The topics of the time discussion with the core target groups of the company are analysed in a content analysis and – optionally – in supplementary surveys. What are the target groups currently talking about in social media and in traditional specialist media or at conferences? Which of these topics can the company contribute to? Where can we interfere? Because only those who have a say are perceived. So this is about classic issue management or, if you like, the editorial plan of your own corporate blog, if one exists. We align the agenda of our target groups with the areas of interest and competence of our client.
Issue management – the second source of content marketing
While messaging formulates the positioning of companies and brands, topic management includes concrete statements on products, the market and other topics. The topic management is developed in a workshop together with the company and recorded in the wording manual together with the messaging.
The definition of statements on products and partners is still relatively simple. If there are problems here for the MarCom department, then the colleagues from product and partner marketing have not done their job. All companies should have a clean product positioning and a clear structuring of the partner portfolio.
However, many communication experts have to jump over their big shadows when it comes to deciding on which topics in the industry they want to develop their own positions on and publicly demonstrate their own skills in content marketing. After all, a content-oriented corporate communications strategy is no different from a more or less cozy evening with the industry association or trade fair organizer: you only get into the technical discussion via small talk. And the topics of the small talk are diverse and – depending on the industry culture – range from Champions League and the latest sports cars to the Federal Government, digitalization, SaaS, POS, IoT and so on.
Issue management means to create a topic and editorial plan to position your own company and management. It may well be that the automotive enthusiast CEO of an IT company would rather position himself in the magazin “auto-motor-sport” with the chief designer of BMW than with the latest thin client solutions (see the relevant reference report).
The core of the brand – dynamism, modernity, technological competence – can also be perfectly communicated – perhaps even a little closer and more directly to the business decision maker of the most important user industry than via the reference report in the IT magazine. Issue management is the supreme discipline in content marketing.