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CMWorld Recap: Kristina Halvorson Talks Content Strategy Common Sense

How to produce content that will reach your audience in a way that gets results was one of the topics on everyone’s minds at this year’s Content Marketing World. In Kristina Halvorson’s session, Content Strategy: Clarity, Constraints and Common Sense, she revealed exactly how to do that in a very tangible way.

Kelly R is a 5-Star Writer at WriterAccess.
Kelly R is a 5-Star Writer at WriterAccess.

Halvorson walked us through the steps that will put you in the right place to accomplish any content marketing task from creation to the strategy and net you the best outcome in this rapidly changing industry.

As the CEO of Brain Traffic, one of the most well-respected content strategy firms in the world, Halvorson has managed to put her mark on this topic with her book, Content Strategy For The Web in 2009.  She is also the founder of Confab, one of the first conferences in the United States solely focused on content strategy. That conference began in 2011 with an attendance that sold out well in advance of the event. A prominent speaker at over fifty conferences, Halvorson’s consulting work with Fortune 500 companies and her online seminars have made her an expert in this complex field.

Just a Cog In The Content Wheel

Halvorson started out just like every other copywriter, writing content that was requested by various companies needing her services. Trying to navigate the waters of the internet back in 2004 was where her creative genius came to light. At her session, she spoke about some of her clients, including one that sold vodka, large corporations like United Healthcare, and finally for whom she was asked to create massive amounts of content for about $4. Her wit and candor in describing how she worked with these companies is something to be admired and led her to the top of her field today.

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How To Master Content Creation

The next part of her presentation covered specific tips for how to tackle any form of
content. She said that, “not anybody can do content.” While not exactly a science, it does require certain skills that aren’t inherent in everyone.

It means studying and learning the process, which she outlined in this way:

  • Prioritize
  • Set Goals
  • Push Forward
  • Implement

Sounds simple, right? The way Halvorson explained it is actually productive thinking and clearly makes a lot of sense. In prioritizing, when you are starting to create your content you have to analyze your audience from the beginning. The purpose of the content is vital. Mainly, why are you writing it, for whom, and what next? There is a specific start, middle, and end to creation. Look at the path for all the things you want your content to carry out. That way you are going to create better content, not just cranking it out. Mindless content for the sake of content alone isn’t going to become anything special.

The reason Halvorson wrote her books was that she was a pro at getting emails that started with the phrase, “we need content.” But clients didn’t exactly know how to get there and expected her to be a mind reader. They just wanted content done right. By following her direction in your content creation, you are much more likely to glean a killer result that will stay ahead of the competition by creating something new.

A Stellar Example Of A Company Executing Correctly

Halvorson’s experience with Allstate Insurance is a great example of how she put this method into action. Their content creation is always innovative, on target, and even a bit entertaining. It has managed to be relevant and new, year after year. Their content creation team manages to make it relate to the audience who buy policies and even share their content.

Remember the Allstate commercial that showed that the customer could buy a policy in the middle of the night? The wife in the commercial was suspicious of her husband because he is on the phone with an agent at 3:00 am. She thought he was talking to a mistress! It’s a memorable campaign that played across all of their media communications to garner great results with their funny, witty, and relatable content.

Content Isn’t The Problem

Halvorson also made the point that content isn’t necessarily your problem as an agency, but rather how to streamline it to be effective. Some things that make content creation difficult are a lack of research, old school content, poor workflow, lack of guidelines, and uninformed leadership. The base strategy is that creation of content must be useful and useable. It’s just that simple. One of her favorite quotes is by entrepreneur Reed Hastings that states, “Be pained by the risk in your strategic choices.” By striving to connect the dots in your work with a logical method, you are more likely to net results. Sweat the content and it will be better in the end.

The Future Of Content Marketing

When Halvorson talked about the future of content marketing, she made it clear that it’s important to “be customer-centric always.” The integrity of the brand you are driving depends on it, with consistent, and measurable success at every turn. A fully functioning marketing program is only as good as the process behind it. Halvorson managed to get this point across in a perfectly matter-of-fact manner in her session.

Kelly R is a Beauty Editor and Copywriter. She has written for many different online and print publications including Allure, Mode Magazine, Working Mother Magazine, Seminole and The New Yorker.

Want more content marketing wisdom? Check out our webinar series where world-class marketing experts share their insights.

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Freelancer Kelly R

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