What is a content marketing mission statement? (+ how to create one)
Your content marketing mission statement should be a guiding principle and a state of mind. Socialize it, embrace it, and live it daily through the mindful creation of your digital sales and marketing content.
Editor-in-Chief, Speaker, Host of 'Content Lab' Podcast
October 20th, 2020
What is a content marketing mission statement?
A content marketing mission statement defines the purpose behind every single piece of content you will create for your audience as an organization. It is concise and easily understood by your audience, clearly defining the who, the what, and the where of your content's intended focus and influence.
I'm an only child. So, yes, I've always erred a bit on the "willful" side — yeah, we'll say "willful" — when it comes to following directions that I have not set out for myself. This should have come as no surprise to my parents, as my first word was "No." (Sorry, mom.)
More specifically, my biggest beef as a child was being told to do something without understanding why I was being bossed around.
"Brush your teeth, Elizabeth."
"Because you need to keep your teeth clean."
"You want sparkling white, strong, and healthy teeth, right?"
"You'll have a beautiful smile. Don't you want a beautiful smile?"
"Elizabeth, please just be good for mommy and brush your teeth."
For those of you who work with me in any sort of content coaching capacity, this should give you insight into where my insistent, insufferable "interviewing skills" come from. I'm sorry, but I'm also not sorry.
'Why' matters, particularly in business
Sadly, not much has changed as I've transitioned from footie pajamas to the black and neutral-toned athleisure-wear I cling to so desperately as an adult. If someone wants me to invest my time and energy into something, I need to understand why.
Of course, I'm not unique in this way. Nor is this specific to our personal lives. Understanding "why" is at the core of almost everything we deal with in business.
For example, just last week, I sat in on our quarterly management team meeting (as a member of our management team), where we emphasized the importance of agreeing upon and communicating the why to the rest of the company about upcoming shifts in strategy, technology platforms, and so on.
The same holds true for anything marketing related. Whenever you make a big change as a business — a company rebrand, a major event change, etc. — you can't just communicate the change happened, you have to explain why. Whenever you're trying to make a strong argument for something, once more with feeling, you have to explain why.
Do you think it's something that would make them think:
"Gosh, with a money-focused mindset like that, they definitely will have my best interests, needs, goals, and challenges as their top priority in their content, our conversations, our business dealings, and so on."
Bottom line, bad content marketing mission statements are:
They will inspire no one to take action — whether you're talking about a subject matter expert you want to create a blog article or an ideal buyer you're hoping who will read said article.
When you create a great content marketing mission statement, it will be a rallying cry to your C-suite, your sales team, your ideal buyers, your house cat (basically everyone) that helps everyone understand why your content is so important and gets them excited to get on the content bus.
So, how do you create one?
1. First, you need to define the purpose of your company's content
Although content marketing is a digital sales and marketing strategy by which companies around the world have driven wild traffic, leads, and sales results, the act of creating content must be viewed as a selfless act of education.
Meaning, when you sit down to actually create those blog posts, videos, podcasts, and infographics that answer the most pressing questions of your ideal buyers, you can't be thinking about your bottom line.
Instead, you must adopt the mindset of a teacher who is obsessed with one thing only — delivering the most honest, through, and transparent answers possible to your audience, no matter how uncomfortable the question may be.
As Marcus Sheridan talks about in They Ask, You Answer, when you decide to start creating content, you're stepping into the role of a teacher to your buyers. But not just any teacher — the best and most helpful teachers you can possibly be at what you do, both online and off.
"Why should we care about being teachers?"
Now, you might be saying to yourself, “I see the difference, but is how we think about content that big of a deal?”
Yes, it absolutely is.
For example, by a show of hands, how many of you struggle to get others in your company bought in and excited about creating content? And, whenever you say buzzwords and phrases like "inbound marketing," "content marketing," and "business blogging," suddenly everyone has a meeting or a tax appointment for their hamster they need to go to?
So, how likely is it that you can get someone on your team to say, “I want to be the best inbound marketer in the world”? Not very likely.
But, what if we changed that to:
“I want to be viewed as the best teacher and most trusted resource in our industry. I want people, when they have a problem, to think of our company first, before our competitors or anyone else. I want our ideal buyers, when they have a question, to immediately come to us for the answer.”
We’d wager that’s a statement everyone in your company – from marketing to sales, and all the way up to the C-suite – can get behind.
Where most companies go wrong with content
The No. 1 mistake companies make with content marketing or inbound marketing (whatever you want to call it) is not understanding and adopting this subtle shift in mindset.
And it’s a costly one, too.
Those companies that fail to catch that vision of becoming those extraordinarily helpful teachers will see fewer members of their team saying, “Yes, I’m all in!” on inbound and creating content and, ultimately, will have fewer clients walk through their doors, as a result of those inbound efforts.
So, if you want your team not only to be bought-in on inbound but also wrap their arms fully around it, they’ve got to understand what it is that you’re doing and why.
And that’s where your content mission statement comes in.
2. Understand the 3 key components of a content marketing mission statement
Now that you understand why a content marketing mission statement matters, as well as what your content marketing mission statement should never be, let's break down the anatomy of a content marketing mission statement.
A content marketing statement defines the purpose behind every single piece of content you will create for your audience as an organization. It is concise and easily understood by your audience, clearly defining the who, the what, and the where of your content's intended focus and influence.
Those are the three parts of your content marketing mission statement:
Who you’re trying to help
How you’re going to help them
Where you’re helping them
That may sound a little abstract to some, so let's unpack a few examples to show you what this looks like in practice. Let’s say you’re an accounting firm that generally services the Washington, D.C., area.
Your content marketing statement, in this case, might be:
We want to be the premier source of accounting information for small business owners throughout the Washington, D.C., area.
In this content mission statement example, you’ve explained the who (small business owners), the where (the Washington, D.C., area), and the what (being the premier source of accounting information).
Or, let’s say you’re a water services and plumbing company that caters almost exclusively to locally-owned restaurants in and around San Francisco. Your content mission statement might be:
We want to be the foremost experts in water and plumbing for locally-owned San Francisco Bay Area restaurants.
Again, you’ve identified your who (local restaurants), the where (San Francisco), and the what (being the go-to experts for water and plumbing).
If you want a real-world example, we have a content marketing mission statement at IMPACT, which is:
We are the #1 teachers in the space of digital sales and marketing for growth-focused leaders and businesses around the world.
Although the industries, ideal buyers, and focus areas are wildly different in each example, they all follow that same blueprint by identifying:
The specific industry and/or subject matter area they own
Their target audience and/or ideal buyers
What their geographical footprint is as teachers
Most of all, they are written with a value-focused mindset instead of a self-focused mindset. They communicate that, as brands, we are here to serve the needs of our audience first.
What you shouldn't include in your statement
Did you notice how we didn’t mention anything about marketing once in that example?That’s by design.
The most effective and powerful content mission statements -- the ones that get everyone will get everyone declaring, “Yes, I want to be that teacher! Yes, I want to solve our customers' problems!” are written in such a way that they are immediately understood and easy to remember.
Meaning, no matter what someone’s role is within the organization, they should be able to read your content mission statement and, without hesitation or any need for clarification, get what it is that you’re trying to do and be able to recite it from memory.
Additionally, your content mission statement should be clear, concise, and easy to remember. Which means it should not include any marketing buzzwords or be too long.
3. Finally, share your content marketing mission statement with everyone
That's right. Creating a content marketing mission statement isn't an insulated exercise, the results of which are to be banished to a folder in someone's Google Drive. Nor should it be printed out on a piece of paper and left somewhere in a drawer, never to be remembered again.
You must consider it a guiding principle and a state of mind. Socialize it, embrace it, reinforce it, and live it daily through the mindful creation of your digital sales and marketing content.
For example, you'll come across ours on our website in multiple places:
Add learning the content mission statement to your onboarding process. Print it out on a poster and hang it somewhere prominently. Remind your folks of it whenever you highlight content wins at company meetings.
No matter how you choose to keep your new content mission statement top-of-mind, your goal should empower your team to understand exactly what they are doing and why any time they create a blog article or video.
Giving your content marketing a why that is pure, selfless, and focused on the needs of your ideal buyers is a win-win for everyone. Your buyers will trust you more, the quality of your content will be better, and your sales team will not go hungry.
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