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We exist to make your business thrive and our greatest reward is our returning clients. Our focus is and always will be on our clients and not on industry awards and accreditations, which could account for why we’ve won so many of them…
Trainspotting 2, Cold School Halls and Preparing for Interviews .
Last week has been a bit of a trip down memory lane for me.
The launch of T2 (Trainspotting 2) with all the media reminding us that the original Trainspotting was out 21 years ago – yes, 21 years ago!
This was the same time that the Soviets were launching the world’s biggest space station Mir, just three weeks after the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster.
On this same day last week I also spent a morning at a local school in Ashford, Kent doing mock interviews with sixth form students, along with 25 other local business people, helping prepare students for university and job interviews for the future.
Norton Knacthbull School, according to their website, is a “popular and highly regarded selective school for boys (and 6th form girls) combining traditional values with a vibrant learning environment”. “Traditional” was certainly right - it stirred memories as it was just how I remember my school – freezing school hall, peeling paint, bells ringing, hard seats and small wooden desks and rows of curling black and white team photos in the corridor. One of my associates mumbled something about Hogwarts – but Hogwarts was much more 17th century rather than 1970’s.
I regularly interview university graduates and interns for technology and creative roles at Sagittarius – bright, well qualified people expecting to walk into well paid, high level roles without conducting any research or preparing well formulated answers to standard interview questions (not you Evan Waters – our current and very useful intern).
I regularly wonder why no one at the universities is coaching the graduates and setting their expectations for their entry into the commercial world – but the students at Norton Knatchbull were a real breath of fresh air and gave me hope for the future. They had obviously been well prepped and coached to make eye contact, give firm handshakes, dress smartly and introduce themselves before they sat down. Which in itself is impressive for 15 and 16 year olds.
They came clutching CV’s and application forms they had prepared in advance – which I guess you could put down to efficient and proactive teachers. They came in on time and were all really engaged with the experience and process – all of which sets them above and beyond many of the grads I interview...
I “interviewed“ five students, including a future Concert Pianist, Lawyer, Mechanical Engineer, Google Web Developer and a young man who wasn’t 100% sure but felt his future probably lay in Economics in the City.
All of them had a plan or a strategy, they all knew that hard work was needed, they were all well researched, and they all knew what they were good at, particularly the Concert Pianist who was particularly single-minded in his drive and ambition.
Undoubtedly they were top performers and achievers of their peer group, just the sort of driven individuals you want to be able to choose from when you are recruiting.
But as employees and recruiters what do we need to be doing to secure this kind of talent? What do we need to do secure, engage and retain this type of talent in our business??
Obviously we need to be offering a truly exceptional environment for people to work in, both physically and emotionally, supportive, creative, and collaborative, somewhere where people know their opinion matters and their future is important to the company. Somewhere where they can grow, learn and express themselves.
I believe we are well on the road to this at Sagittarius. The company has invested time, effort and money in our Employee Engagement Programme over the last three years and it is really paying off now. But is a long-term commitment and it is cost worth it.
So despite the morning at the school being cold and full of coffee out of polystyrene cups, and not having any immediate pay offs for Sagittarius, it was an invaluable experience for both me and the agency.
Understanding more about why we invest so heavily in engagement, and the message of not judging a book by its cover was reinforced, the school was old fashioned but the morning proved that the teachers were progressive in providing this valuable experience for their exceptional students.
And for the students? I hope they took some of my advice away with then for their interviews for universities and in the long-term future, for jobs.
I hope they remember to ask their potential employers “What‘s in it for me”? What will you offer me to secure my talent? What investment are you going to make in my career when I join your team, why should I come and work for you?", as well as being prepared to demonstrate their own potential and commitment to an employer and passion for what they bring.
Interviews are a two-way conversation, a cliché I know but important to remember if you want the best and are the best.
And Mr “ I want to work at Google”. .. if you find you want to start out closer to home (i.e. in Kent) let me know.
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 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 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 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.