Tactical content delivery

It’s not always easy making the case for tactical content delivery even if, to you as the creator, it’s screamingly obvious.

Many years ago I interviewed a senior manager for a feature in his company’s employee magazine. It had been fairly standard until towards the end, when he casually mentioned some throwaway piece of information and I told him he’d just given me the angle of the article.

“Why go with that?” he asked.

“Because that’s what employees will want to know about.”

He looked at me for a moment and then explained why I was wrong. He outlined the angle he wanted the article to take and then explained why the magazine itself wasn’t great. The reason? It didn’t appeal to him or his peers. They read broadsheets, so why wasn’t the publication in a similar style?

It quickly became clear that he couldn’t understand why we transformed company messages into fun, snappy, people-focused copy. He didn’t see the link between crafting content in that way and getting messages to land with the young audience that made up the company’s 20,000-strong frontline workforce.

Hitting the target

But that’s the thing about good tactical content delivery – the creator knows that every message has a target audience and shapes it to fit accordingly. If you want that message to hit home, you have to make sure the content is created in a way that will appeal to that audience. It’s called ‘What’s in it for me?’ or WIIFM.

To do that, you have to understand the people you’re writing for and work out the best, most effective way to communicate with them. In terms of audience, gender, age, socio-economic status, role, geography or culture are all points for exploration. And, even in a business where the workforce is mind-bogglingly diverse, there are bound to be sub-sectors where you can define an audience profile and communicate with them via specific channels.

Tactical content delivery

But it’s such an easy thing to say – know your audience and communicate accordingly. How do you actually do it to make sure your tactical content delivery is spot on? Here’s where I hand over to some of 44’s expert content specialists for their top WIIFM tips on content delivery…

Imogen Charnley says: “If it’s possible to visit the audience and have conversations with them about their work and what interests them, that’s really valuable. As well as, or in place of, face-to-face contact, I ask questions such as: What kind of demographic is the audience made up of? What types of publication might they read? What’s relevant to them at work? What would their interests be outside work? Apart from voice and tone, there are other things to consider, like the way the content looks on the page or on-screen. Is there a way of presenting the information to grab attention like infographics, pull-out stats, image-led pieces, timelines, maps, and more.”

Ian Winterton adds: “When it comes to tactical content delivery, I try to keep a real person in my mind and imagine I’m writing directly for them. I find this keeps things more personal and direct, and avoids any corporate jargon or dullness. Depending on the brief, I’ll usually try to think of the person I’m writing for as a friend, too. This helps me communicate whatever themes or messages I need to pass on in a way that I hope they’ll find accessible and want to read.”

Rebecca Kilcullen says: “When I’m making content appeal, I think about tone of voice. It’s not just what you say, but how you’re saying it. If your message is a difficult one, be clear, focused and empathetic and most importantly, sincere. Use Think, Feel, Do to ensure your content meets a need in the reader and clearly guides them to a point of action. Consider the channel you use, so you maximise visibility, access and engagement. And think about timing too – be aware of how your content will sit alongside other messages the audience will see at the same time.”

As for me, my top tip is to listen… and learn. Meet/talk to your audience as often as possible, listen to what’s on their minds and how they speak and think, and then incorporate as much as possible into your content. And keep listening – find out how your message landed and make sure you take their comments into account when you sit down to create your next piece of content. That way, you can be sure your tactical content delivery is as effective as it can possibly be.