Don’t Stand There With Your Mouth Open

Let’s pretend you’re a bear. No, wait, stick with me here. Okay. You’re a hungry bear. You want to eat something, maybe some fish. So you walk down to the river bank, because fish live in the river (still with me?)

Let’s pretend you’re a bear.

No, wait, stick with me here.

Okay. You’re a hungry bear. You want to eat something, maybe some fish. So you walk down to the river bank, because fish live in the river. (Still with me?)

Now, you have a few options here. You can try to catch the fish with your big bear paws. Maybe there’s a couple dead fish floating on top of the water … that’s a possibility, too, albeit a not very fresh one. Or, better yet, maybe you’re a bear who lives in an area where sockeye salmon live, and if you stand in the river and wait, fish will literally jump into your open mouth.

Goal Strategy Tactic
This slide is courtesy of Kristina Halvorson’s “Content vs. the Customer” presentation at Content Marketing World 2015.

Goal: Eat some fish
Strategy: Walk down to the river where fish are swimming upstream
Tactic: Wait for the fish to jump into your mouth

But what happens when you forget the strategy?

Patient BearYou’re just a bear, sitting around, hungry, maybe with your mouth open. And to be honest, you look pretty dumb.

This is just one of the genius — and amusing — things that Kristina Halvorson, CEO and founder of Brain Traffic, discussed during her keynote presentation, “Content vs. the Customer,” at Content Marketing World 2015 that has continued to stick with me, nearly a month later. And she wasn’t just there to talk about bears and fish … her point was that marketers often define their goals, decide on a tactic, and then completely forget to map out strategy, especially when it comes to content marketing.

According to Halvorson, core content strategy can be broken down into three parts:

  1. Diagnosis: Understand what you’re trying to do and what’s already being done.
    Here you align business outcomes and customer needs, and identify opportunities, challenges, assumptions and risks.
  2. Guiding Principles: Why are you doing what you’re doing?
    Ask yourself: What are your success metrics and are they meaningful? Who is your audience? What are your brand values? Is there a purpose to the channels, formats and frequency you’re using?
  3. Coherent Set of Actions: Acquire. Establish. Redesign. Shut down. Upgrade. Choose one and do, but make sure you’re removing “increase” from your goals.

“You’re everywhere … but you don’t have to be,” Halvorson reminded the crowd. “When we say yes to all the things, it becomes too much. There is power in saying no.” There’s also power in asking why, and taking a long hard look at what you’re doing, defining a strategy for how you want to get there, and executing it.

Because no one wants to sit alone with their mouths open, waiting for fish or customers.

Author: Melissa Ward

Melissa Ward is the managing editor for Target Marketing, and she has opinions! More importantly, she's a nerd for great copy and design, a disciple of authenticity, and really loves it when marketers get it right.

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