Content mapping is the best way to get a single source of truth for company messaging.
The “map” can (and should) be VERY simple.
Mine is one page. I insist on it. Because it’s not a content Bible: it’s a content map. And you have to be able to read it while you’re driving.
Any copywriter, content marketer, marketing director, CMO, etc. should have some kind of process for synthesizing all of the brand’s big ideas and core messaging. It’s the only way to create the imperative consistency that drives recognition and trust.
Here are the parts I suggest it contain.
Want to watch this?
Check it out on my YouTube channel (or just watch it right here).
Also, I have a FREE version of my very simple but highly effective content map. You can access that here (you do have to trade your email, but you just get added to the blog list, so it’s nothing spam-a-riffic).
I personally format my content map from the bottom up. I envision it like the structure or framework that all messaging (and messaging decisions) will filter through. The foundation must be the brand’s most important ideas:
These three things typically already exist and comprise the most fundamental notions essential to a brand’s identity. List them at the bottom.
The next level up on the content map includes pain points and value drivers. These should be settled on during audience segmentation.
(I do suggest that content mapping happens after audience segmentation, which is another workshop you can get FREE access to here, or watch on YouTube here.)
As you investigate your ideal and target audiences, you should determine:
These are two sides of the same coin, and key concepts that should drive every scrap of marketing copy that the brand puts out. You may not use them verbatim. In fact, you may rarely do that. But you’ll use the general principles behind them in every CTA, every lead magnet, every blog.
Hence, their position of importance on the content map.
3-4 sentences: short, sweet, to the point. This is the high-level sales pitch every salesperson in the company should have down pat. It summarizes the whole idea:
Simple enough but of course, agonizing to create and then get everyone to agree to. A worthwhile exercise, though.
Get some direction for how to write an elevator pitch here.
I already said how this exercise should’ve happened, and here’s where you explicitly list out your audience segments. I think it’s VITAL to the max to do this. What you are doing when you add your specific, defined audience segments to the map is immediately making this abstract exercise very human.
Writers know, these are the three audiences we’re writing to. Then, when they sit down to write an ad or write a blog or what have you, they’ve got that audience segment in mind. It humanizes the writing, ensuring you don’t get too wild or weird or off-brand. It keeps them on the map, and that map includes the “who.”
What are the BIGGEST buckets, topically, that you can categorize your content into? There is a bit of a blurred line here between the “how” (which should be listed separately, but sometimes isn’t). Rather than describe it, I’ll show you two examples:
This first company wanted their topical content categories to really be about the “doing” — what are the broad TYPES of content they were going to create. Then, they defined the deliverables more specifically.
Note, I did a whole second page on this one where we mapped the content ideas to a platform messaging analysis and dove way deeper on each area.
Here’s a second example. This company went a totally different direction, as you can see, being more true to the topic in terms of idea coverage, then defining deliverable separately:
My reason for showing you this is what I wrap up in the video: every company is different. You will take this framework and adapt it very contextually to each team. It isn’t meant to box you in but simply put some parameters to have more meaningful discussions and greater clarity.
Alright, go download it, try it out. Even if you only fill it in for yourself to start content mapping your current projects, it will help you distill down all of the important stuff. Now you know what questions to ask, what big ideas you need to know, and that will inform how you deliver those big ideas in the real world.
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