Content Marketing Insights: Developing a Program Framework – Creating a Mission Statement

A content marketing program is more complex than some would have you believe. This is one in a series of posts laying out some best practices and essential steps to take when developing or evaluating a program for you or your organization.

Corporate mission statements really came into vogue in the last 40 years or so as companies sought to set themselves apart and define what the image they wanted to present to the public really was. You read a lot of these and you see repeated use of phrases like “be the best in class” or “become the market leader” in a way that’s related to their industry.

The actual business value of such mission statements has always seemed a tad questionable to me. They always appeared to be more about a board of directors feeling like they’ve contributed or a consultant preying on fears of being left behind than anything that will matter to the public.

That their primary purpose is as in-house positioning is actually a big reason they play a large role in the development of a content marketing program.

When writing your program’s mission statement, the question that needs to be asked is this:

What is it we want our message to be?

It’s a bit more nuanced than that, of course, But if you can’t answer that question right off the bat, the program is in trouble from the outset.

As you begin putting together the structure and purpose of the program, the mission statement begins to focus the defining principles laid out previously. As with any other mission statement, one for a content marketing program should hit the following points:

  • What are you doing?
  • How are you doing it?
  • Why are you doing it?

Here’s a quick, generic example.

Be a valuable source of company and industry news through regular publishing of relevant, engaging updates on important topics to raise the company’s standing among buyers, customers and media.

Your own will be specific to what you want to accomplish and may include mentions of direct sales or other metrics, but be careful to not set goals that are too specific in this mission statement. Those goals will be outlined later on, after tactics and strategies have also been provided.

Right now you’re setting the vision for the program more than anything.

The purpose of the mission statement at this stage is mostly about gaining internal approval. This is you selling the purpose of the program to higher-ups, as well as giving everyone involved something to rally around. So it should be aspirational yet achievable, with a bit of hyperbole built in so everyone feels they’re signing off on something visionary or groundbreaking.

There are some who feel you should include mentions of target audiences, sales funnels and other details in the mission statement, but those will only get you into trouble later on. Target audiences change, sales funnels are altered based on user experiences and testing. The mission statement should, with some caveats, be evergreen and as applicable two years from now as it is today. Like other elements of the program it should be revisited from time to time to make sure it’s still relevant, but it shouldn’t be so fungible that any change in tactics is going to necessitate revisions.

Again, this is a big part of receiving buy-in on the program being developed, so any change to what’s here will impact how those you report to view what you’re doing and how much they support it. If you are constantly changing the mission statement because you made it too specific, those who have signed off on it may be confused or irritated when what they see now doesn’t match what they had previously agreed to.

Create your mission statement with tomorrow in mind and you’ll be on solid footing as you continue developing the content marketing program.

Content Marketing Insights: Developing a Program Framework – General Principles

A content marketing program is more complex than some would have you believe. This is one in a series of posts laying out some best practices and essential steps to take when developing or evaluating a program for you or your organization.

When you, your team and whatever other stakeholders are laying the groundwork for a content marketing program the first step is to create some sort of structure for that program. These aren’t hard and fast rules on what content is or isn’t included or instructional how-tos on publishing and engaging.

Instead the Program Framework is a set of ideas and objectives the program will use as its guiding document. If content marketing programs are a journey – and they very much are – the program framework isn’t a map with specific directions. Instead it’s more of a repository for where you want to go, what you want to see along the way and at your destination, who’s going to decide where to eat and how you’ll decide whether or not the trip was a success.

A good program framework, in my experience, consists of five overall sections, the first of which is.

General Principles

When drafting the general principles for a program, remember to think big picture and not get caught up in granular tactics or even goals. These are the kinds of statements that make for effective principles:

We will share information that is relevant to our business and interesting to our audience and customers.

To be a resource for those seeking information on the kinds of products and services we offer as well as address the needs of customers and others.

To be fresh and funny while still conveying a clear message about all aspects of our business or organization.

Each of those can be fleshed out a bit and tweaked to your particular industry, business or audience, but the overall tone should be clear: That you want to lay out “this is what we’re all about and the kind of tone we will seek to take in our communications.”

These principles are, as you may notice, platform agnostic. At no point do they mention any one outlet because they should be applicable to as many platforms as the program encompasses while allowing for new ones to be added. You can adhere to those principles whether you’re talking about Instagram, email, a blog or whatever new platforms will come on your radar two years from now.

There will, of course, be shifts that occur in those principles since, while they are flexible enough to be relevant most anywhere, business goals and needs will change over time. So if responding to customer questions becomes less of a priority, or direct sales become a bigger element of the program, it’s alright to revisit this statement of principles and make revisions.

That being said, doing so lightly can lead to confusion and cause more problems than it solves. This is the basic foundation of the program and should be treated as such.

Going back to the analogy of taking a trip, this is the part of the planning process where you say “We are going to Disney World for four days.” You haven’t laid out what route will be taken, what form of transportation you’ll be taking, where you’re eating meals or how much money you’ve budgeted. It’s just the high-level statement that should be easily understood by all involved parties.

Changing the statement of general principles is akin to saying “We’re now going to New York City for five days.” The entire premise on which what’s coming next has changed, leading to the need to secure buy-in and agreement from those involved all over again.

In that way, the general principles of a content marketing program are both vague and specific. They can be applied to many aspects both present and future of the program and don’t tie you to specific tactics or goals, but they also explain to everyone who touches the program what there is to be gained.