Bigger, Better, Faster - the eternal brief.

BBF

When I write a post or a blog, most of the time its an information dump, a knowledge download, a sort of psychological release. A welcome break from doing real work answering emails, zoom calls and hopefully the odd brief. Midflow I then get the wake-up call remembering I’m a marketer so I must’ve chosen my target audience and desired outcome in advance right? Whoops.

So let that be my start point, and I’ll call it out here and now. These words are for existing clients and future prospects. This is for the people who want to do more - scratch that - need to do more in order to prove their brand’s value to an audience which has more questions than ever or perhaps even proves their own value within their organisation during testing times.
The only outcome I desire is that one word or sentence or paragraph sticks in your head and you use it as a springboard on a rainy autumn day.

I’m in the business of guaranteeing performance. It’s written into my job description and all over the walls of the agency. If you are lagging behind I’ll help you catch up. Challenged by the pace of change and it’s my role to help you keep up. Threatened by the competition and I promise to help you stay ahead. Whatever you need I’ve got your back.

It doesn’t matter if it’s been a blockbuster summer for you in manufacturing because of lockdown DIY-fever or the annus horribilis in travel and tourism due to flight restrictions and quarantines. The next opportunity is always the one in hand, and therefore at Sagittarius, we have a positive thinking shorthand phrase that encapsulates every brief we receive and every solution we propose. Bigger, better faster. Whether you need greater awareness, behaviour change among your beneficiaries, customer growth or merely a higher eCommerce basket value the way that we frame the issue is with bigger, better, faster.

Bigger. How do you maximise the ingredients you have, bringing new scale to your efforts by adding extra layers that integrate and build upon the impact from your years of hard work?

Better. How do you refine everything, turning it from good to great, whilst removing the friction that loses you so much revenue and undermines the assets you’re most proud of?

Faster. How do you take your ideas to market before the opportunity passes, innovate with pace and deliver results quicker that prove rapid return on investment?

Words are cheap right? And this smells of the age-old agency hyperbole you get peppered with on your daily tour of LinkedIn. But hold fire and don’t eject just yet. I was client-side for 20 years. I’ve been in your shoes. Submitted the business case that’s scope shrunk during the budget rounds, pitched the new process that fell on deaf ears, lost another year of progress during the latest restructure. I feel your pain, and I have the same scars you do.

What I do know is that bigger, better, faster were definitely at the core of my needs back in my client days and the wonderful agency partners that I worked with along the way appreciated it and delivered. Nailing this is at Sagittarius is the reason we have clients in their 15th year with us, doing bolder work than ever, and our clients give us a net promoter score of 78. We’re in it together.

So I guess the point of this post is to offer something really succinct around those three areas so that you can just write them on post-its and think about them in the context of the challenges you face right now and how they may unlock the next great project you’re part of.

Bigger. You’re sitting on a pile of data. There might be a tonne of unstructured customer data that you need to mine or just a constant stream of web analytics, but please don’t let that distract you. Build upon it and add layers that can simplify all that stuff to make it feel more like genuine insight. Knowledge nuggets that turn the dial.

Firstly add VOC (voice of customer) - get organised about collecting from your Social listening, your focus groups and your surveys and mix it with heat mapping and tracking to pull together a picture of what your customer really thinks. This will help shine a new light on all that other data you’ve been wrestling with. Secondly, pull it together in a single place as a next-generation dashboard and socialise it. Put it on screens around buildings (if you’re in the office again), give it a secure web address (if you’re still at home) and make it central to the weekly team email updates etc. Do whatever it takes to make it the central context for which all other data can align to for a greater sense of reality.

Better. You might think your brand’s web experience is great OR alternatively, you think it’s embarrassing, but in all likelihood, you don’t really know. If targets are being met, it’ll likely be ignored and if they’re not and you’re crashing and burning you may be forced into making quick improvements with little insight. Stop. Everyone’s in the same boat. Face the horrible truth that 50%+ of your visiting audience is gone in the first 20 seconds and 95% of those that remain are likely to leave before conversion. You are leaving money on the table with every click, and incremental micro wins could be worth thousands even millions of pounds.

Its time to optimise. We could be talking about your working week, your business model or in this case, your online customer journeys, but the point remains the same. Remove everything that doesn’t add to your chances of winning. Grab a piece of paper and scribble it down. Define your hypothesis - essentially your ‘what if’ we did this differently? What would success look like and how would you know if your assumptions were correct? What do you need to change and how long will it take to know if it worked? - set a time limit. Then just go for it and evaluate it. Digital means you can be very precise in knowing who will see your experiment, so don’t be shy. You’re only standing still if you don’t make a move.

Faster. Teams are shrinking. Every day we hear about another business having to recalibrate, and often this affects employees and staff numbers. In short, your bandwidth and ability to turn a new page and focus on growth again is diminished. A genuine catch-22 that’s too often followed by business paralysis and reductive thinking. But hope is not lost and don’t forget that technology is your friend.

At Sagittarius, we talk about Augmented Intelligence. This is all the genuinely practical parts of machine learning and automation that win you back time and bring speed to your work and operations that traditional staffing models ignore. Everything from streamlining admin tasks with innovative tools, automating your personalisation programmes and testing schedules through to using cognitive services and chatbots in new areas. Make a conscious effort to start switching more of this stuff on. Ask colleagues, peers and your agency which AI-driven tools they use day-to-day and consider which bits of your day you could augment in order to release human time for more pressing issues.

So hopefully that didn’t take up too of your well-earned coffee break and fingers crossed it sparked a new thought to solve something, speak to someone new or just mix up the day ahead. As always we are here to talk so drop us a line if you need help, encouragement or simply a fresh voice/face over the zoom and remember - if it doesn’t make you go bigger, better or faster then its time to question doing it at all.

Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.

A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.

So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance. 

What is a Content Strategy?

It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.

But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business. 

Who are my Audience?

You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.

So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context. 

Do I need to tailor content?

As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.

 

Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:

  • What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?

  • Who are they most influenced by?

  • What voices influence their behaviour?

  • What type of content do they consume?

  • Where do they consume content and engage with brands?

Different Content, Different Objectives

 All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.

There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.

Hero Content

Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale. 

Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels. 

Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.

Hub Content

Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.

Hygiene Content

Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.

How do I manage all this?

Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.

Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.

Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.

If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.

want to speak to one of our experts?

 
Thumbnail Ian MacArthur
Ian MacArthur
Chief Experience Officer
Ian is a highly experienced and award-winning creative strategist specialising in bringing brands closer to their audiences through digital marketing transformation and optimisation. With over 26 years’ experience and well over 10,000 projects under his belt, Ian is proud to have worked with some of the world’s most impressive brands, helping them solve business problems and approach challenges differently.

Ian heads up the experience optimisation (XO) division at Sagittarius, working with all teams and clients across the business and globe.
 
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