Content Strategy and Delivery

If you don’t give it any thought, it’s easy to diminish the effectiveness of your communications program. You have to consider what kind of message your advertisement, your promotion or your publicity should put across. To simply describe the product would miss an opportunity. To hype it ridiculously with extravagant claims looks amateurish and puts potential buyers right off.

So here’s a framework which you can use to consider two things:
* What kind of appeal or persuasion do I want to use in this communication?
* How do I deliver that message so that it is very visible, impactful and persuasive?

Take a minute to consider each of these in turn. First, what kinds of appeal are available to you? The main alternatives are product focused appeals, brand focused appeals and value focused appeals. Note that in describing them as alternatives we are not saying that they are mutually exclusive. They can be and often are used in combination. The important point is to use them as a frame of reference for what your messages are doing – or should be doing.

In the first case, having thought about the benefits to the customer, you might conclude that your main selling point is the product itself – it has features or characteristics that set it apart, or functionality that makes it special, or perhaps owning this product makes the customer one of a privileged few. So you build your appeal around that.
In the case of brand focused appeals, you have again considered the benefits to the customer and this time might have concluded that, perhaps because there’s nothing much to choose between your product and that of your competitors, you should base your appeal on the reputation of your company, its well known brand, its track record for reliability, service or after sales customer care.

Value focused appeals can take many forms and when your product/service offers anything over and above sheer basic utility, there is usually a value proposition which you can communicate. So if your product/service confers psychological values such as status, provides safety, well-being, group membership, or if your price/quantity or quality relationship is attractive compared to competitors, then perhaps one or more of these should be the focus of your appeal.

Now let’s move to the second question. Having decided a strategy for the appeal(s) you want to make, how can you best deliver these? By this we do not mean to ask, what kind of media or channels of communication should we choose – that’s the focus of other pages within the Artefact Strategic Marketing Model. The question we are examining now is about how the appeal should be couched, or what approach should be chosen?
There are many alternatives to choose from and it would be impossible to cover them comprehensively. Here are some of the most commonly used approaches to delivering the appeal:

* Humour.
Everyone likes to laugh (well, maybe not loss adjusters or actuaries…) and humour is very often chosen to get attention, particularly in advertising. Paradoxically, you don’t have to be selling something that obviously lends itself to a humorous approach. Even something as intrinsically boring as car tyres can be made more human and attractive by a cartoon Michelin Man. Banks regularly opt for a humorous approach to try and replace a staid and forbidding industry image with a more open and approachable one.

* Testimonials.
There’s something about blowing your own horn that people react against. If you can get satisfied customers – particularly if they are well known figures who can put the weight of their own credibility behind your product – to speak for you, then you’re onto a winning strategy for delivering your appeal. There is a potential downside (but usually not a sufficiently worrying consideration to put marketers off ) – if your product/service becomes associated too closely with the testimonial of a public figure who subsequently makes the main evening news by being jailed for fraud or beating his wife or whatever, your reputation – too closely bound in with his – can also suffer. So cut the risk by choosing steady, reliable, credible people to be your spokespeople.

* Comparisons.
Depending on the jurisdiction in which you are operating, it may or may not be allowed to name competitors in comparing your product/service with theirs. If you can do so – and of course if your offering does come well out of a comparison – this can be a very persuasive way to deliver your appeal. But be careful – it’s a confrontational approach and you have to factor in the likelihood that you will provoke a reaction. If you’ve ever read ‘The Prince’ by Machiavelli, you may recall that one of the lessons he taught was, and I paraphrase – if you are planning to smite your enemy make sure you smite him good, because if he is able to get up again, he’ll be as mad as hell and then you had better look out!

* Factual Presentation.
Sometimes it’s best just to give the facts as simply and straightforwardly as possible. This tends to be especially the case when you are dealing with corporate/industrial buyers and are selling high value products. Humour might be seen to trivialise, and stern faced purchasing committees will not be swayed by testimonials from showbiz personalities. They want the facts, they’ll make the comparisons themselves and they’ll make a dispassionate decision.

* Stories.
Sometimes a story, a fable, a moral tale, a mini soap is used to set the product/service in a context where consumers are seen to be deriving the utility or value that the marketer wants to convey.

Now you have used a framework of alternatives to consider the nature of the appeal that is most likely to work for you, and you have used another framework of alternatives to consider how best to deliver that appeal. You may well have found in the process that there are other types of appeal and other approaches to their delivery that would work better for you than those on the lists provided here. That’s fine. The purpose of this page – and all pages of the Artefact Strategic Marketing Models – is not so much to provide answers as to provide structures for thinking and arriving at your own answers without missing the essential considerations.

Content Strategy and Delivery

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