5 pillars of a successful content strategy

This article was originally published in Glossy on May 17 2019

For luxury brands, content is hot.

With the declining cultural and business impact of their traditional go-to communication tactics, luxury brands are turning their attention to always-on, multichannel content. The problem is that very few of them approach it with a plan and the attention needed to succeed.

Too often, content is treated as a campaign or direct sales driver. Both approaches fail to take into account the role of content in establishing and maintaining relationships with a brand’s audience, which is critical for customer retention, loyalty and long-term brand success.

Content does not belong to a social media department. To be successful, a consistent and sustainable content strategy needs to be an organizational mandate, and a brand and business priority. A smart content strategy provides the glue between the brand’s various activities, and acts as an often-missing link between brand and performance marketing.

To improve their content game, luxury brands should consider the following five strategic pillars.

Define your business and brand objectives
Different brand and business goals and priorities define what the role of the content will be, where that content is going to live, how it will be produced and in what format. All content decisions then support these goals and priorities. Goop’s goal is awareness. To reach it, this modern lifestyle brand devised a smart and lucrative, tongue-in-cheek communication strategy that seems to get more powerful with every seemingly outrageous thing the company does. Thanks to its firm grip on the audience’s attention to the lifestyle of wellness, in all its variations, Goop became the brand synonymous with modern wellness.

Define the point of view
The perfect story resides at the intersection of your brand’s interests, your audience’s interests and cultural interests. High-end apparel brand Outdoor Voices is interested in making exercise easy, joyful and fun. This is the interest it shares with its audience and with the wider culture, which has seen a turn toward wellness, an active lifestyle and self-care. Through their filter of ease and fun of movement, Outdoor Voices curates culture and engages with its customers.

Specify the role of your content
One of the first steps in any successful content strategy is to decide what you want your content to achieve, in relation to your audience. You may want to excite your audience, celebrate them or an aspect of their life, inspire them, or give them things to think about. Every single piece of content then works toward conveying this. The co-working space The Wing is all about spending time with yourself. Its digital content and print magazine, No Man’s Land, encourages that, together with everything else The Wing does.

Decouple content from product revenue
Create content value that’s separate from product value. Goop uses content to connect consumers to the Goop brand before they buy anything. There are more people (close to 2.5 million monthly web visitors, according to Crunchbase) who are interested in the Goop lifestyle and paying attention to everything Goop does and says than there are those keen to own the vampire repellent it’s selling or score its $125,000 18-karat-gold dumbbells. By using content to constantly draw its audience’s attention to things they didn’t know they needed, Goop successfully created the lucrative wellness market that it gets to own.

Recognize that people are most interested in (talking about) themselves
Successful modern brands turn to their audience to tell their story. Expressed through the lens of an individual, personal experience, a brand story becomes intimate, relatable, and believable. Luggage brand Away talks about the lifestyle of travel through personal stories of individual travelers. Away’s customers buy its luggage so they can feel like a more wondrous and magical version of themselves as travelers.

A successful content strategy is a long game. Just like in any relationship, affinity and trust are built through repeated, reliable and consistent micro gestures. By aggregating these “marginal gains,” brands create a narrative, and those that build a narrative — about fitness or wellness or travel or work — get to own the market for it.