Strategy is important. So sayeth Sun Tzu in “The Art of War.” That may not be a direct quote, but I feel like you won’t pull me up on it because chewing through that little paperback can be quite the slog.

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Strategy is important though. You can have some pretty sweet guns, some rad-as tanks, but if you don’t have a sound strategy, all the firepower in the world will be about as useful as a muffled bum-toot in an elevator.

Which, now that I’ve said that, is actually about as aggressive a manoeuvre as one can attempt.

I digress.

We all know that quality, well produced branded content can be just the artillery you need to attack your audience. And while the war theme might be wearing particularly thin as a metaphor, it’s important to ensure your content doesn’t wear thin with your audience. A solid branded content strategy is paramount to delivering your message in the best, most digestible way possible.

So what is content strategy, and what should you be thinking about when formulating your plan of attack? Here are six key points to keep in mind.

  1.    Target your current interactive audience. When producing your piece of content gold, keep in mind the sort of person who already supports and interacts with your brand. You need to keep pleasing them before you start going after a wider audience. If your content is riveting enough, you won’t need to change a thing to garner wider attention.

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  1.    Look for themes of interest overlap within your audience. This includes anything that is entirely outside of your brand’s playing field. Say you are an accounting firm – collecting data on where your audience’s interests lay in terms of fashion, travel, entertainment or sports is invaluable. This knowledge will allow you to embed these themes into your content, helping you produce something that will really grab them.
  1.    Audit your current content. If you’ve already dipped your toe in the often murky lake of branded content, have a look at what really hit with your audience, and base your future projects around these sorts of ideas. Social media success being eminently measurable, you can also have a look at what went viral from your competitors archives, and aim to hit that same bullseye (or differentiate yourself from them with a totally different “wow” piece).
  1.    Pick your preferred format. Different types of content will yield different results. If you’re hoping to rack up 1 million shares on Facebook, an infographic or visual item is in order. If you are looking to get people to your site, and have them spend a bit of time there, a quiz or old-fashioned slide show will be your best bet.
  1.    Be sure to time the release of your content wisely. Do you have a stunning piece of summer travel content? Drop it 3-4 months before summer to hit that holiday planning sweet-spot. Have an orgasmic recipe for egg-nog that you need people to see? Do your best to hold out for December, friend.
  1.    Where is your audience going to be viewing your content? If it’s a smartphone, you had better rethink your decision to create that A2 sized infographic on the complete history and current science of string theory. Find out how your content will be ingested, and ensure you’ve taken the appropriate measures to make it work.

All in all, your branded content strategy needn’t be as complicated as the Franco-Prussian war. Simply getting a bit of data about your brand’s audience, and planning the production and release of your content shrewdly, will allow you to maximise exposure while minimising effort.

And if I could be so bold as to throw one last Sun Tzu quote in there, “one may know how to conquer without being able to do it.” You have the knowledge, now it’s a matter of conquering the branded content world with it.