Last week, we helped you define your identity. Today, we seek to give our identity the words it needs to thrive in the marketplace. The way we says things, where we say it and to whom we say it can be the difference between shouting our message blindly from the rooftops or whispering it to an empty room. Ideally, we aim to be somewhere in the middle, talking in our own voice, conversationally to a room full of interested people.

Emptying the Contents

Before we go further, let’s define the key term we’ll be using: Content. The phrase "content strategy" is tossed around today rather liberally, but no one really knows what it means.

con·tent [kon-tent] noun

  1. Usually, contents.
  • something that is contained: the contents of a box.
  • the subjects or topics covered in a book or document.
  • the chapters or other formal divisions of a book or document: a table of contents."

Kristina Halvorson defines content strategy as “plans for the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content.”

However, because the words needed are usually overlooked during the web development or even design and branding, most content strategy is done after the fact. As a result, many businesses are emptying the contents of their websites, brochures and other marketing materials to find a unified voice for their unified communications strategy.

But let’s assume you’re starting from scratch. To write effective, useful, usable content, we must know what is useful and for whom it would be usable. That’s where your identity comes in. Take the keywords, audience and personality that you created last week and write in that tone.

Where Do You Start?

Let’s also assume that our 30-second elevator pitch is now a friendly, 3-minute conversation over drinks. It’s loud, and there are many distractions. A target audience member is with you. She asks three questions:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you do?
  • Why should I care?

In a sentence for each, write the words that answer the questions. If your tone doesn’t match your customer, she’ll think you’re too smug or worse, not serious. If you bore her with too many unnecessary details, she’ll walk away.

Adapting for Context

But your content isn’t in a bar. It’s on a website. Or a smartphone. Or on a billboard in the subway. And there are many more distractions. Which brings us to another useful definition.

con·text [kon-tekst] noun