A creative’s worst nightmare is a blank page: The importance of a sound content strategy

By Charlotte Dixon

With new formats being constantly added to the media landscape, there is a continued need for brands to produce more content than ever before to stay relevant. Not only do they have to create more assets to fill always-on publishing schedules, but they also need to ensure the content feels authentic and relevant to savvy audiences.

At Mofilm, the way we make sure that a brand’s content is always fit for purpose – wherever it lives – is by including light-touch content strategy at the beginning of every project.

Not another strategy!? 

Developing content strategy doesn’t mean doubling up on existing brand work already done by other agencies or taking months to develop a fresh insight. Rather, it is a bit of pre-thinking that makes sure we’re on the right path before we head into creating.

Typically, brands come to us knowing their topline brand strategy and the message they want to communicate, but there’s often a job to be done to translate this into what it looks like in content. The purpose of up front content strategy is to take this information from the brand world, and evolve it into a framework that clearly defines the role of each piece of content. 

The Mofilm team is lucky to have constant, daily connections with our free-thinking creative community, so we know that a creative’s worst nightmare is a blank page. The content strategy is therefore hugely important as it communicates brands’ goal-oriented thinking as simple, structured jumping off points to help spark amazing creative ideas. 

This is the best way to ensure the content that comes back is consistent, on-brand and hits all of the objectives of the brief. 

All good things start with a content framework…right?

To ensure we are fuelling our creative’s idea in the most effective way, our strategy begins by developing a content framework that works backwards from important brand and environmental factors. 

From the brand side, we look at their objectives, their existing content landscape and the realities of their budgets. 

Within the media environment, we consider viewing behaviours, the best practise guidelines of each platform and the ideal publishing cadence.

Once these areas have been considered, we develop a framework that covers: 

  • The audience and how / where they engage with content 
  • The recommended channels for distribution
  • The number of creative assets needed to achieve the objective within the budget
  • The key role of each creative asset and the suite as a whole
  • The recommended length and formats of each creative asset for each platform 

Although there are some generic rules of thumb, such as optimal lengths and formats for social channels, a lot of the details in the content framework are bespoke. For example, for a leading US doughnut retailer, our content framework to launch a new hot donut product specified the need for 30” in-feed brand awareness video on Instagram that evoked the nostalgic emotions of tasting a warm fresh doughnut. However, it also focused on defining the roles of supporting social assets, such as 15” ‘swipe-up-to-buy’ IG Stories that focused on local store location and promotional offers. 

Sharply defining creative needs of each type of asset upfront allowed the creative team to ideate and shoot bespoke to each format, which resulted in a campaign where each specific piece of content had a clear role to play. 

This zero-waste approach makes a huge difference in the long term to make sure brands are getting the most efficient use of the content they are paying for. 

Some common hiccups to avoid

  1. No home for your content: Waiting until post-production to determine where content will be published is a sure-fire way to make that content not fit for purpose. To avoid the dreaded clunky edits and weeks trying to retro-fit a message, we can work together to design content bespoke to each channel and format up front. This means you can avoid losing the beauty of your 16:9 panoramic shot by squeezing it into a narrow 9:16 cutdown, or getting lost on a winding long intro when you needed a snappy 15 seconds to grab attention.
  2. One-size-fits-all: Each channel and format requires a bespoke approach because audience’s use them very differently. To avoid trying to be everything to everyone, it’s important we don’t just work backwards from the brand objectives but also consider exactly how the audience will receive each piece of content. For example, if your audience is already captivated by lengthy series on YouTube, don’t be afraid to embrace long form to align with their viewing habits. Or if it’s fast paced Tiktok browsing they are more familiar with, break down your message into key points with clear call to actions to mimic a scrolling format. And remember, a mix of formats is often helpful when trying to balance more than one objective.
  3. Keep it focused: A clear idea of what you want to achieve – vs just what you want to talk about –  is vital when briefing creators.  A focused creative brief with clear objectives can help highlight the priorities of the campaign, which allows the creatives to focus on the best way to bring your message to life.

All that said, it doesn’t matter if you come to us without your content strategy already worked out – we can help you get there (and we’ve probably wrangled with a similar challenge in the past). If you want to learn more about how to build a content strategy, or are interested in kicking off a project with us, please email me at charlotte.dixon@mofilm.com

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