Episode 47 of Landscape Digital Show reveals how to create a content style guide to consistently brand your marketing message.
In an earlier episode of Landscape Digital Show, we discussed why it may be beneficial to take a production approach to your marketing.
Your landscaping company is a production business and that approach to marketing should add order and discipline by giving it a familiar context.
We are going to take this further with 5 steps to creating a content style guide for achieving greater consistency with your content marketing, including your website content, newsletter, blogging, and social media updates.
In episode 42: Marketing Production: Manage Your Marketing Like a Factory, we noted there are many activities involved with marketing, but all of them can be organized into three content categories.
All of the content you create and share should have a consistency that is congruent with your brand and what you want buyers to think, feel, see and do when they encounter it.
The content you publish either adds value to your products and services or it doesn’t. Let’s face it, lousy content tarnishes your brand image. It says you are not concerned with being a professional.
Thus, whether you are creating the content in-house or outsourcing it you have to take responsibility for its value and relevance for your audience.
Let’s now put together a framework from which you can build your content publishing plan using your available resources.
A quick note: If you are the business owner it’s very likely you are the primary person responsible for content ideation, publication, and promotion. Nevertheless, there are two big benefits for creating your editorial guidelines.
#1. It will improve the quality of content you create by tightening up your workflow, thereby saving time and making it more consistent.
#2. You will have a proprietary system ready when you decide to delegate or hire out some or all of the work. And if you get requests from guest contributors, you will have standards that will hold them accountable.
The following style guidelines are in no particular order. Customize them as you wish according to your business and content marketing objectives.
#1 – What is your content mix?
Will it be original content or curated from other sources, and if so, in what formats?
There is no right or wrong here. As an industry and community leader, your original perspective is relevant.
There are many successful blogs and newsletters that curate the best and most relevant news for their communities. It saves people time and builds your authority just as well as original content.
#2 – What is your preferred voice?
Use objectives to define this. For example, our brand is personal, professional, and value-driven.
#3 – What is the tone of your content?
For example, our goal with Landscape Digital Institute is to cut through the clutter, and quite frankly, the BS too.
And we will and support that with research and science-backed content from trusted sources and direct experience. In other words, we will be honest about what works and will not hesitate to take on pretenders that offer silver bullet solutions.
#4 – Do you have a content style guide?
This is especially important for delivering content that is congruent with your brand.
- What are the standard dimensions for images, and how are they used?
- What are the conventions for headlines and subheadings? If they make a promise the content needs to deliver on that or you will lose subscribers very quickly.
- Your content style guide should adhere to precise branded colors, typical paragraph lengths, how inbound and outbound links will be used, and so on.
- You have to be specific with everything, all the way down to the fonts you use.
In short, your content style guide details everything that affects the look and feel of your marketing. Set your standards and stick to them.
#5 – What will your content always and never do?
This is where you really get down to setting expectations for your audience. For example, if you intend for your content to be instructional, you need to focus on giving step-by-step instructions and valid examples.
If that is what your content always does, what will it never do?
Maybe it will never mention another brand in a negative way. But it can still address the issues. And it probably should for the audience to get what they need.
If you expect your content to stand out in a sea of sameness you have to take a stand. And there is no better place for getting that clarity than with your content style and publishing guidelines.
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Call to Action
The call to action for this episode is to create standards for your marketing content, just as you do for the work your business performs for its customers.
Determine who is accountable for what, including content ideation, publication, and promotion. That may or may not be multiple people.
Build a framework with the questions listed here and refine that into a content style guide that becomes standard operating procedure. This means writing it down and updating it over time as you encounter and adjust to new circumstances.
Need more ideas? Check out our earlier Episode 29 on content repurposing. This is something every business should be doing, but it can be a complete mess if you do not have a system to follow.