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Purpose-focused Communications

Why “What’s Our Purpose?” is the Most Pragmatic Content Strategy Question

I attended the sixth annual Content Marketing World during the first week of September as a speaker. This is a role I’ve held at that conference for every year of its existence. From my perfect attendance record to our client work as a content marketing agency, I’ve had a front row seat to the evolution of content strategy and content marketing. That journey has included defining content marketing to developing best practices and technology solutions. This year, the journey’s waypoint includes appreciating that we’ve reached a certain level of maturity in content marketing as a practice.

Part of that maturity is facing certain realities about content marketing, including two that I’d like to address with this post. One reality, that Joe Pulizzi shared in his opening remarks at the conference, is that CMI’s research shows that only 20% of those who say they’re doing content marketing are fully committed to it (I touched upon what it takes to be fully committed in my “Essentials of “True” Content Marketing” post in this column).

The other reality is that content marketing has contributed to an avalanche of content, and a theme that was touched upon at the conference was the importance of producing quality content that is meaningful, versus a focus on meaningless quantity, in order to stand apart.

In essence, the message coming out of Content Marketing World 2016 was to be all in, or not at all, and if you are in, be in with content that is meaningful.

Timing-wise, the theme of my presentation this year was in perfect alignment with these developments. I focused on the role of purpose in driving not just brand engagement with customers, but as a viable compass point for discovering content that matters to people. Why purpose?

Because having purpose is not only conducive to discovering quality content ideas, but it serves a vital role in keeping a team focused, passionate, and committed to fulfilling the duties and challenges of the content marketing workflow. Remember, only 20% of content marketers are committed to it.

Therefore, from a content strategy point of view, “What’s our purpose?” is the most pragmatic question you can ask yourself and your team from the outset of a content marketing initiative. We call this “Purpose-focused Content Marketing.”

There are eight principles to purpose-focused content marketing which, if followed, will help you create content that your team stands behind, and that will be meaningful to your audience.

  • Mission and goals are about your business; purpose is outward facing, focused on your customers.
  • Purpose can be about values, or about providing practical value.
  • Your purpose is uniquely yours, not easily replicated, giving you competitive content advantage.
  • Purpose can, and should be, a shared value with your employees & customers.
  • Your purpose becomes part of the consumer conversation about your brand.
  • Purpose-focused content is about showing that you care.
  • Purpose is about improving lives while improving the bottom line.
  • It’s not enough for businesses to be trustworthy, they have to be meaningful.

A great example of applying Purpose-focused Content Marketing principles is a content marketing initiative of travel services provider Momondo, called “The DNA Journey.” I shared this as a case study in my Content Marketing World presentation (see companion presentation blog post), and it’s safe to say it just kind of blew everybody away!

Here’s why:

Momondo’s answer to the “What’s our purpose?” question is to show that there is more that unites us than divides us, and is a part of their overall vision of a more open and tolerant world. Relying on real people, real stories, and quality video shooting and editing, they created a meaningful piece of quality content that resonated.

At the time of my presentation, the video had generated 120 million views since it was launched in early June, and had garnered over 7 million socials shares and likes.

So, the next time you’re working on your overall content strategy, or trying to come up with new, creative content ideas, ask yourself and your team “What’s our purpose?” I can practically guarantee that you and your team will have an engaging conversation that leads to quality content ideas, ideas to which you’ll be able to stay fully committed.