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Defining the Core Messages of your Content Strategy: Why and How you should do it

So, what do you want to tell your audience?

A great way to make clear what the most important things are you want to tell your audience, is defining your core messages. We suggest that you create one primary message, supported by a set of secondary messages. In this article I will explain the importance of creating messages and what the process looks like to create them.

The primary message

Let’s start with your primary message. The primary message is the most important information you want your audience to know, boiled down into one sentence. In all of your content, the primary message should resonate. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the primary message has to be used directly in your content.

The primary message really is meant for internal use.

If you are working on your content with several people, the core message should be imprinted in their memory (or even on the wall above their desks, if that helps). Every piece of new content that is created should reflect the essence of your primary message.

What does a primary message look like? Well, here’s ours:

Content Mapping Tool is the ultimate tool for content marketers who want to create better, more relevant content.

This is it. This is what we want the world to know about us. You may note that in the primary message, we don’t explain at all what CMT actually does. We will talk about that in our secondary message. In a way, the primary message corresponds with the ‘Why’ of the Golden Circle (if you don’t know this concept, drop everything including this blog and watch the video!). It’s about the reason your company exists, what you add to the world.

The secondary messages

The secondary messages then, correspond with the How and the What of the golden circle. How do you actually help your customer? What is it that you have to offer? This is often the easier part. Secondary messages are a great way to define the scope and focus of your content.

A couple of examples of secondary messages would be:

  • To find out the questions of your audience, it helps to work with personas;
  • Each of your personas goes through several stages in a buying cycle;
  • In each of the stages, each of your personas will have different questions;
  • Content Mapping Tool enables you to map informational needs and the corresponding content, to personas and buying cycle stages.

The examples above are mostly about explaining the concept of content mapping that the tool is based on. But, of course there is more to tell, for instance:

  • Content Mapping Tool is an online tool;
  • In Content Mapping Tool you can work as a team on the production of your content;
  • With Content Mapping Tool you can keep track of your progress with your content marketing efforts;
  • Content Mapping Tool is easy to use;
  • Content Mapping Tool enables you work more efficiently on your content, so you save time and money.

As you can see, the list of secondary messages can get quite long. Often, it makes sense to arrange the messages in topics or chapters, that’s up to you.

But, also be critical. Having too many messages doesn’t help you to keep focus, but really just blurs your vision.

How to create your core messages for content marketing

Start with creating a first list of messages in a brainstorm session. You can for instance use mindmapping to get started. If you already have a good idea of what the informational needs of your audience are, definitely use those insights. But, don’t forget that sometimes you want to tell the world something completely new. Then, you are not answering questions, but you are bringing news. So, also look at the core of your company and your product, think about the Why! Don’t hold back now, just start to write down ideas. This, of course, works best if you are doing this with multiple people in a creative atmosphere.

After that, start to kill your darlings. Try to bring the number of messages down to 10, maximum 20. Usually you will want to get rid of messages that are very similar to others, and messages that go into too much detail.

Then, finalize the list. Create a document with the primary message and the secondary messages and make sure that everyone in your team not only has access to it, but gets to know the list like the back of their hand.

Last but not least, don’t throw away the messages that didn’t make the cut of your final list because they were too detailed: very often these are great starting points for new content items!

Jeroen Huynen

About author

Jeroen is the CEO of Content Mapping Tool and an experienced content marketeer.