January 05, 2016 / by Jeff Barrett

Content is a lot like football–the ball must keep progressing, otherwise it’s just a bunch of huddles. Consider using these five, expert-recommended, forward-moving content rules and strategies as this year’s NFL playoffs begin:

1. Update (or Start) Your Buyer Personas

Often an overlooked (or procrastinated) step in the marketing discipline, the crafting of buyer personas helps a business more precisely target its budget and efforts. Just as you wouldn’t throw together a random set of plays, you don’t want to be reaching short of your target audience.

A precise understanding of your buyer is the only way to truly understand their challenges and help you pinpoint your solutions. 

Hatchbuck offers a buyer persona workbook to get you introduced to or refreshed by this useful step.

2. Think Lean to Win


The Content Marketing Institute stresses you pare down your requirements when deciding what to measure. Be it user engagement, brand sentiment, customer retention, sales or other, the more you track, the more confusing your conclusion may be.

These content marketing experts strongly advise against tracking too many metrics. Anything more than five is likely too much for initial metric tracking.

Ed Gilligan, former president of American Express, once remarked, “There is a science of scorecards and metrics. The art of it is knowing when those rules don’t apply.”

To decide what to track, focus on what you want to find out.

Want to drive results? Turn into a content-first business! Register for Joe Pulizzi’s free webinar now!

3. Hire Fanatical Writers

It’s common for writers, even those who don’t work in the sports section, to follow the beat they cover with the obsessiveness of a sports fan.

Businesses and brands need to think like publishers or brand journalists. This requires a total shift from product-thinking to content-thinking.

Follow this three-point strategy:

1. Hire external or identifying internal passionate editors and reporters

2. Devise a content strategy they can get excited about

3. Give them freedom to create content that makes people actually stop and ignore everything else on the Internet

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4. Give Power to Your Fans


Concurrent with real-life NFL is the world of Fantasy Football. What’s so powerful about this game activity is it gives users the creative authority to take control over their league experience.

Players create their own team names, pick players, build their teams and even make some of their own rules. AllWebCafe points out how this level of user control and user-generated content gives people a feeling of ownership and pride when they’re interacting with your content.

Regularly collecting feedback and observing how your audience behaves socially with your content can help you deliver a content experience that feels more on target, customized and controlled.

5. Expect Fumbles and Injuries

Barely read blog posts, off-target ad spends and under-performing marketing campaigns are all part of the game.

Use each content fumble as an opportunity for a comeback field goal or touchdown. Clearly speculate what went wrong, craft a new strategy to test and reassess.   


Images: Parker AndersonDavid ReberKeith Allison (Creative Commons)

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About Jeff Barrett

Jeff Barrett is 2015’s Best Business Blogger (Shorty Awards), one of the 50 most influential people on social media (Forbes), the #1 Ad Executive on Twitter (Business Insider) and dances like Drake. Find him on Twitter @BarrettAll.