Stuck in content quicksand - how to save your global content planning

No one wants to get caught in quicksand (we’ve all seen the movies). But when it comes to delivering content on a global scale it’s all too easy to get stuck, or worse, sink. Producing high-quality content across multiple channels and markets, all while staying true to your brand is not easy.

So, what can you do to make the whole process, from ideation to delivery, as seamless as possible? It all comes down to good global content planning.

In other words, follow our 7 step solution for optimal global content planning:

1 – Set content goals

Before you do anything, make sure you actually know where you want your global content to go and what you want to achieve there. Think about the bigger picture, namely what it is you want to accomplish in each region. For example, you might want to launch your brand in APAC while continuing to raise awareness in EMEA. Once you can see the bigger picture, you’ll be able to focus on the finer details, like choosing your priority markets.

When selecting which markets you want to target, make sure you look at your previous/current activations and use the data available to set goals. For example, are there any markets that clearly aren’t working? Where are you already seeing good results? Which markets need special attention? Once you know your priority markets, you can set individual goals for each market.

Of course, when setting goals in market, it’s all too easy to get swept away with vanity metrics. But make sure you set your KPIs in relation to global business objectives. What is the company trying to achieve? If the business priority is increasing sales by X amount, then work out how your marketing activations at market level will lead to that result. Those activations will be the things you need to measure. Make sure you set realistic, trackable targets – that will help to get stakeholder buy in.

The main thing to remember when it comes to content is that you won’t achieve your goals overnight. After all, while audiences rapidly consume content, it takes weeks of engaging with content to make a lasting impact. Remind stakeholders that slow and steady ultimately wins the race.

2 – Determine your audience and content pieces

A great global marketing content plan understands audiences everywhere. So, it’s important that you determine your buyer personas, not only on a global scale but also at a local level. Your audience will clearly differ from market to market.

Once you have your personas, you can start to set out your content pieces. For social media content, it’s best to create content pillars first. For instance, if you’re an FMCG brand promoting a health food product, you might have 3 core pillars like  food inspiration, food science and quick food hacks. Once you’ve got your content pillars, ask yourself – what will each pillar provide to your audience? One might be education, another might be pure entertainment, and so on. By choosing pillars, you can make sure all your target audiences are being covered with a range of content. Pillars also helps when it comes to ideation, as you can tweak recurring formats within each content pillar.

Once you’ve got your pillars and content themes, clearly set out your content pieces from a global level. For example if the plan is to make one TV ad and create smaller cut downs for digital and social, set this out clearly so that local teams can get a clear picture of what assets are going to be produced, and what they can use for their own marketing. You’ll also have to map out which stage of the funnel you’re content is operating within.

3 – Get local to pick and choose

As we said, once global has determined what audiences and content pieces they are going to focus on, local teams can pick and choose what content will work for their markets. Remember, the aim is not to use all the global content in every market – some things simply won’t translate or will require too much tweaking. Your local teams and in-market experts should use their insight to determine which content pieces will really resonate with local audiences.

Of course, while local teams should take a degree of control at this stage, they shouldn’t be let loose to do as they please. Local content plans must align with the overall global plan, so that all teams are working towards the same business goal. If local teams go off in their own direction, you risk diluting your brand identity in a mess of local content activations.

4 – Choosing formats & channels

What’s next? Channels. Yes, there are a lot. And no, you don’t have to use them all. Just remember that different markets favour different channels. Some markets will suit an omni-channel digital response. Others may suit a more traditional mix. Use in-market expertise to set out which channels each market will be using.

After you’ve selected your channels, do your homework on trending formats. While this can seem intimidating (the sheer volume of channels and formats means trends come thick and fast), it’s vital that you’re tapping into current trends. Local teams, in-market experts and global creative agencies can analyse local channels, formats and competitor activity to see what’s working and what’s not. It’s always important to ask: what are competitors doing and how do your plans line up? You can then use all of this data to assign formats to your different content pieces.

5 – Think about activation

Audience. Tick. Content Pillars. Tick. Channels. Tick. Formats. Tick. Now it’s down to the nitty gritty – content activation.

When it comes to activation, you’ll want to make sure your audiences are getting a seamless experience. First and foremost, that means content messaging needs to be super relevant to your audience. Especially during the turbulent times we’re living in. Consider where your content is going, which audience persona it’s targeting, and which stage of the funnel they’re in.

Of course, it’s no use getting the messaging right if the content doesn’t serve the messaging. For example, a paid ad raising brand awareness that leads to a dead link isn’t going to get people excited about your brand. Make sure all links work seamlessly, and that consumers can engage with your content as easily as possible. After all, unseen content is a waste of time, money and effort.

6 – Plan production

There is a lot to think about at the production planning stage, and tricky questions are bound to crop up. A good place to start is by ticking off the following:

– Make sure you know what masters are being produced at a global level, and by who. Are you using in-house capabilities, hiring in a creative agency or using a mix of both?
– Determine what assets are needed for each region and assess whether local teams have the capability. You may need to outsource to a global creative partner to help produce local assets.
– Clearly indicate which assets are multiple, i.e. being used across multi-markets, and which assets are specific to one market.
– Create a list of deliverables taking into account all your target markets.
– Think about flexibility. Do you have the resources you need if messaging or imagery suddenly has to be changed due to an unforeseen local situation? Again, consider whether you need to partner with an agency to help make your production more agile.

7 – Build test and learn into your plan

This is the new era of global marketing, and that means using data to continually optimise your content is a must. But, it’s hard to make changes based on results if your content plan doesn’t take into account test and learn. It’s essential that you make room in your plan for adaptations that might become necessary along the way. In other words, plan for flexibility. That might sound strange – after all plans are about sticking to one process – but allow wiggle room as much as you can; the result will be content that responds to real-time thus making a greater impact on your audiences.

For more on test and learn, read our latest blog: ‘The bland brand: 5 ways your  global marketing is killing your distinctiveness’

About Freedman

From content planning through to campaign delivery, we help you get the most from your global marketing. We scale up or down with ease to concept, produce and distribute the content you need, efficiently, across all channels and regions.

And when it comes to local relevance, we’ve got the expertise you need. We help brands to powerful local content, increase campaign performance and maintain a strong brand everywhere. Always looking ahead, we collaborate with you to plan production better, resulting in an increased return on investment. With the best resources, insights and talent from across the globe, we take your brand where it needs to go.

Struggling to plan your global marketing? Get in touch, we’re always on hand to help.