For cops and reporters the five Ws — who, what, when, where and why — amount to the framework of investigation and the building blocks of a case or a story. In marketing, this also applies to just about any content-creation initiative you can name. The order of the questions may be different but the same regimen applies.
For example, a product launch or a major re-branding campaign might call for support materials, a web site makeover, an update to existing content and a variety of other deliverables. Each piece will have its own objective but still be seen as part of a larger effort that should be greater than the sum of its pieces.
Making the whole exceed the sum of the parts requires a plan. Specifically, it requires asking these questions up front:
1. Why are we engaged in this effort in the first place? A product launch typically doesn’t necessitate a new web site but a re-branding would. A major acquisition might call for something else entirely. You may want to consider how to re-purpose existing material consistent with new messages along with creating something entirely new.
2. What is the objective or mission we want to accomplish? Giving reassurances to existing customers is not the same as acquiring new ones. New versions of established products require descriptive material that is subtly different from the content created for an entry into a new market or an altogether new product.
3. Who is the target of this effort? An purchase influencer might respond to a very different appeal than the outreach you make to the actual buyer or the key decision maker. Once identified, “who” you are pursuing will tell you what it will take to get this target to act.
4. Where is the source material on which the content will be based? Content creation is not the same thing as as creation of the underlying product or marketing strategy. The content articulates the product’s benefits. But those benefits were the outcome of rigorous efforts made earlier in a far different process.
5. When is the trigger event for delivery of the content? You may want to use the content creation process as an ingredient in preparation of the strategy – as a way to prompt ideas and new thinking. All assumptions should be challenged as a way to ensure validity and consistency with the current environment. Best of all, it’s a good measure of how well prepared you are to embark on your initiative. Better to know this in advance, than to find out “in real time”.
Success is based on asking the right questions at the right time. Ask the wrong questions, get the wrong answers. Get the wrong answers and you mobilize the wrong effort and waste a lot of resources.
What’s your process for content creation? How do you create and prepare source material to generate compelling marketing content?
(This post appeared today in The Write Stuff, the blog of Write Angle Inc. )