Why (and How) to Do Content Strategy in Reverse

Matt Pavledakes - August 14, 2015

Say the words “content marketing” or “content strategy” to overworked marketers and you’re likely to get a knowing nod, which just might be followed up with an eye roll and a groan.

While most marketers know all too well the importance of creating content and the high expectations often placed upon it, many struggle with what the Content Marketing Institute defines as the role of the content marketing strategist: Developing the larger story that an organization tells, and coming up with ways to engage audiences and use content to drive profitable behaviors.

The fact is, we take the time, effort and dollars to get content out there – good content that describes our products well. But many of us question the return on the investments we've made. Our prospects don't seem to be engaging with it while on this 'buyer journey' everyone talks about, and we know our sales teams aren't using it in all the ways we envisioned.

When I ran marketing communications at Riverbed Technology that was my reality. Much of the content I had to work with was written by folks who were product experts, not communications experts, and it showed. The content was speeds-and-feeds-heavy and usually didn’t address the topic that our buyers were researching, or effectively explain the company’s perspective on it. And I had neither the time nor patience to start over, never mind the budget required to do so.

So we decided to take our juicy lemons and turn them into lemonade. We selected five decent but underperforming assets, deconstructed them, and from that created a compelling marketing campaign that got us results.

Here are the steps we took:

Start to finish, content strategy in reverse took us only a few weeks, cost us almost nothing, and a few months later we had the results we’d been missing: more people reading our content, net new names in our database, and qualified leads moving through the funnel.

Since then I’ve put this practice in place several times with a few different companies, and even given it a name: Content Strategy in Reverse. If you’re interested in learning more or seeing it in action, email me at matt@280blue.com or follow me on Twitter @mpavledakes.