Core values must guide your content marketing strategy

At the Social Media Strategies Summit this week, I had the pleasure and privilege to perform the opening keynote for the conference. One of the most important pieces of advice I gave out in the talk was about core values and your content marketing. If you recall the SHIFT Earned Media Hub Strategy, one of the first steps in the content creation process is messaging and branding:

Earned Media Hub

What’s not immediately obvious in this step is that your core values must be an integral part of your message creation process. For example, SHIFT’s seven core values are:

Zappos states their values as:

  • Deliver WOW Through Service
  • Embrace and Drive Change
  • Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
  • Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
  • Pursue Growth and Learning
  • Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
  • Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
  • Do More With Less
  • Be Passionate and Determined
  • Be Humble

In each of these examples, the corporate core values are easy to understand. The reason they are so vital to content marketing is that they specify what kinds of content you should create, and more importantly, what kinds of content you cannot create.

For example, there’s a well-known clothing designer and manufacturer whose content strategy is taking topical events and turning them into social marketing pitches. They’ve taken a couple of tragic, horrible events and made them into crass social media pitches for selling their products. While the tactic is effective in getting them attention, it’s not something that SHIFT would ever do because that fundamentally violates one of our core principles, honorable.

Having your core values be compact, easy to understand, and meaningful gives “guard rails” for your content marketing strategy. If you’re working on an infographic at Zappos and you’ve got some data that contradicts a main point, the value of Open and Honest Relationships With Communication should override the expedient tactic of simply ignoring something you don’t agree with.

Ask yourself this: how often do you consult your core values when you’re creating content? The more you can integrate them into your workflow and creation process, the more likely you will create content that has a consistent voice and point of view. You’ll also be less likely to create PR and marketing disasters that deeply offend people if you’re constantly checking to make sure your content is aligned with your values.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Strategy

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Posted on September 20, 2013 in Agency Life, Culture, Values

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About the Author

Christopher S. Penn is an authority on digital marketing and marketing technology. A recognized thought leader, author, and speaker, he has shaped three key fields in the marketing industry: Google Analytics adoption, data-driven marketing and PR, and email marketing. Known for his high-octane, here’s how to get it done approach, his expertise benefits companies such as Citrix Systems, McDonald’s, GoDaddy, McKesson, and many others. His latest work, Leading Innovation, teaches organizations how to implement and scale innovative practices to direct change. Christopher is a highly-sought keynote speaker thanks to his energetic, informative talks. In 2015, he delivered insightful, innovative talks on all aspects of marketing and analytics at over 30 events to critical acclaim. He is a founding member of IBM’s Watson Analytics Predictioneers, co-founder of the groundbreaking PodCamp Conference, and co-host of the Marketing Over Coffee marketing podcast. Christopher is a Google Analytics Certified Professional and a Google AdWords Certified Professional. He is the author of over two dozen marketing books including bestsellers such as Marketing White Belt: Basics for the Digital Marketer, Marketing Red Belt: Connecting With Your Creative Mind, and Marketing Blue Belt: From Data Zero to Marketing Hero.
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