Content marketing is war with nicer paninis. Your agency is like a faction in a war zone – just one of a thousand atomised forces, each seeking to deliver their payloads to their targets while denying you the ability to deliver yours to your own.
You need to maintain a situational awareness of your rivals. Who are their commanders? What are their operational methods? What are their targets, and do these targets encroach on your own? And while keeping your rivals in your peripheral view, you must now focus on your mission.
Welcome to the war zone, General.
The marketplace is a battle zone where the complexity of manoeuvres and the smoke of battle can confuse the rookie commander. But the smart general knows that clarity comes through looking at the right scale:
The strategic scale – this is your long-term commitment to your client, year on year. You want to win the war for them, and that means seeing the smaller scale successes and set-backs clearly within the context of the long campaign.
The operational scale – this is an individual campaign for your client, and often the most effective scale at which to view the battle zone. This scale allows you to brief and delegate your junior commanders to manage the operation, the campaign, so that they clearly understand the objectives and the time frame, and can then proceed to tactical detail…
The tactical scale – this is where we fight each skirmish – each Tweet, each Tumblr post, each FB status update. But everyone in the team is able to see each skirmish in the context of the operation – and you, General, are able to see the operation in the context of your strategic goals.
2 Target acquisition – context is God
Know your target. Understand the purpose of delivering your payload where it will have the most devastating effect. Focus your maximum content punch to the point of maximum weakness.
And understand that your target is not passively sitting there. Countermeasures lie in wait, seeking to deny a successful strike. The target site is cloaked in defensive shields of ad-blockers, junk filters and social media privacy settings. Understanding how your payload will get through these defences, and what effect it will have on impact – is the context for which you must design the payload itself…
3 Payload – and content is king
Your content creatives are bomb-builders, and the best are Barnes Wallis – geniuses at designing, improvising, innovating to ensure the bombs breach even the most obdurate defences. This is why you pay them a lot, and get someone to bring them nice paninis (I like goat’s cheese and caramelised onion).
The bombs have to pass all defences – and when they hit, they have to nuke. They have to make a planned, considered, coordinated and real difference to winning the operation and, in turn, the war.
4 Stealth bombing – a bomb that doesn’t look like a bomb, and an ad that doesn’t look like an ad, have a better chance of getting through
Commanders of defence facilities don’t like bombs, and are ever on the lookout to stop them getting through. People don’t like ads, and are ever on the lookout to avoid having to look at them.
The best bomb could resemble a goat’s cheese and caramelised onion panini, delivered straight to the commander’s bunker. And the best ad doesn’t look like an ad – at least not at first, which gives it time to slip through the outer defences.
5 (Smart) area bombing – social media
A successful campaign integrates targeted strikes with intelligent larger scale area bombing – these areas being skilfully identified interest groups across the social media.
How can you know if your campaign is working unless you get your commanders together afterwards for the autopsy? Chew it over, and allow everyone to spit out any unpleasant truths.
Conclusion: Content war – you’re in it for the long haul, General
No bomb, no battle, wins the war. So survey the battlefield with the perspective of an eagle and the patience of Job, and in time, General, you will win the war. That is all.
Andrew Murray 2015
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