Content that Connects

It’s difficult to overstate the sense of satisfaction and pride our clients feel when a content strategy comes to life. Doing so represents both process and product done well. It’s the disciplined process of identifying and prioritizing story ideas. Of adjusting work assignments. And of shifting goals and mindsets from selling to serving the needs of the audience. The “product,” in the form of a compelling collection of stories, thought papers, and videos, brings the brand to life and provides numerous new ways to connect to people who may, one day, establish a relationship with the institution.

Content became a “thing” way back when marcom departments at schools started managing websites and social media feeds. Today, that “thing” generically referred to as content is a critically important part of building brand awareness. It must be the central part of a school’s integrated marketing plan. Content that truly connects with audiences on a sustained level requires a shift in the rhythm of how a school’s marketing team relates to enrollment, and vice-versa. And, how advancement communicates to alumni and donors. And, how senior leadership represents the institution out in the world.

Can your team shift to a content-driven model? Should it?

Like most schools, your marketing team maintains a list of stories to publish on your website, in the magazine, and on social media. And, that is always going to be important. But with a content-driven model, it’s the quality, not the quantity, of stories that matters. Focusing on some stories–and not others–is a strategic decision. So, if you want your brand (and your enrollment) to reap the benefits of content marketing, old habits and non-cooperative egos have to be left at the door.

Here are some questions to ask to determine if your marketing team can adopt–and benefit from–a content-driven model.

People who produce content need to adopt the point-of-view of the audiences to which they are communicating. Is the sharing of audience data between distinct departments possible?  

Using this data, could you imagine that productive meetings (led by an experienced facilitator) could occur involving enrollment, advancement, marketing, and others, during which profiles (AKA, personas) of different audiences and their needs are created?

A content model requires not only the writing of compelling stories, but both the deployment of them across multiple media channels and the monitoring of how well each story engages with the intended audiences. Can your institution sustain the staff and the outside resources necessary to do this as a matter of routine?

The most successful content marketing programs we’ve seen combine the talents of the school’s internal teams and experienced consultants who guide the implementation. The more this collaboration represents a partnership, the more successful the initiative will be.

Are there examples of successful content marketing programs for schools and colleges? Yes!

The team at Juniata College is a great example of a content-driven marketing model. Here’s more detail. Collaborative by nature, the many departments across campus routinely come together to build personas, evaluate stories, work with outside specialists (AKA, us!) to coordinate deployment across media channels, and maximize performance by tracking cross-departmental goals. This post, Use your brand to fuel your content and your heart to tell a great story, provides some tips to keep the creative content fires burning.

Want to prepare personas? Travel down an audience journey? Admire some analytics?

We’ve worked with independent schools and colleges of all sizes, each at their own stage of content development, and we’re here to help. Collaboration is at the core of our service. Ask how the Cognitive team can custom-fit content services to wherever your institution may be in achieving its communications goals.

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