Fresh out of Inbound: the new rules of content strategy

By Kelsey Dinan on September 24, 2019

“What’s the right way to play on the playground?”

Ashley Faus asked this question to our breakout session at this year’s Inbound Conference in Boston.

But where was she going with this? What does a playground have to do with content? This year’s Inbound was less about shiny new things, and more about re-imagining what we already have.

After a couple of suggestions – the monkey bars, the slide, the park bench! – Ashley explained what she was on about. People want to engage with content whichever way they want – you can’t force the buyer’s journey. That’s why some kids start with the swings, others with the monkey bars, and others run up the slide.

“Treat the buyer’s journey as a playground: people can enter and exit as they desire, they can go in any order, and they can engage with content the ‘wrong’ way,” said Ashley.

So what does that look like when re-imagining your content strategy? In this blog, I’ll share a couple of key learnings from this year’s breakout sessions at Inbound. 

Re-imagining your content strategy 

Let’s begin with Ashley’s tenets of building a playground. These include:

Delight your audience: Focus on creating quality content that engages your audience at every touchpoint.

Build the relationship: The long term affinity for the brand is more important than driving a transactional landing page conversion. 

Influence at every touchpoint: All content can be considered top-of-funnel content. It’s no longer about rushing people to a purchase, it’s about educating and empowering for success. 

These tenants resonated with the way we do things here at Engaging Partners – as they likely would with anyone who uses the Inbound model. But putting that strategy into action looked a little different… 

Putting your content strategy into action

Current content strategy is a slave to the publishing date.

An editorial calendar just tells you when to post and then just leaves it there. But we work hard to come up with helpful content for our clients’ customers – so, once finished (published) we need to keep returning to it. 

Ashley suggests revamping the editorial calendar with content pairing. The narrative should be the starting point and from there we can go on to develop blogs, videos, eBooks, infographics, etc.  

Instead of creating new piece of content after new piece of content, we focus on the existing content that’s doing well. Then, we create content that works together (to help customers move through the funnel) and separately (so customers can engage however they want, like they would around a playground).

So now, you have a TOF piece of content (an infographic, perhaps) and a MOF piece of content (a more detailed eBook of that infographic, let’s say) that work together and separately. And this way, you’re still getting your message across so everyone can engage the way they want. 

Now I know what you’re thinking… isn’t that going to get a little repetitive for our customers? As a writer and lover of synonyms, I’d agree with you. But after an enlightening breakout session on how you can use neuroscience to enhance your marketing strategy, I saw things a different way.


Content strategy with a dash of science 

Content pairing is all about helping your customers engage with the type of content they want to engage with. If they don’t want to read an eBook, they can look at an infographic. But when done well, you can get your customers to move from one asset to the next. 

Yes, that means they’ll likely be picking up on the same messages repeatedly, but that’s not all bad. Cognitive Neuroscientist Carmen Simon explained that the brain can be primed to influence responses. 

Carmen explained that priming in a business sense is important for the following reasons:

  • Cognitive ease
  • Rapid understanding
  • Attention 
  • Engagement. 

Among several other tactics, one of the easiest ways to prime the brain is through repetition.

Content marketing is all about who stays top of mind, after all. So that means the more you can prime your customers’ brains by repeating your important messages, the more you’ll stand out in the minds of your potential customers.

It’s science! 

The new rules of content strategy 

So there you have it. Inbound 2019 was full of gems that we’ll be sharing with you as we continue to work together! Keen to learn more? Come chat with us! 

Kelsey started in marketing after she realised a career in PR meant she’d have to give all the cool stories to someone else to write instead of getting to create them herself. She found her passion for content in a Boston marketing agency which then led her to an opportunity to travel 23 hours to try things out here in New Zealand. She loves writing, but just as much, she loves dogs.

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