content mapping

For Better Content, Map Your Obsessions

These days, the importance of content to brand marketing strategy is pretty much unequivocal. The question is no longer should I create content to reach my customers and generate sales but how do I strategically approach content creation to best meet my business objectives? The answer is focusing your efforts on quality over quantity.

What Makes Content Good?

Good content simultaneously supports the claims made in your brand positioning statement and provides value to your target audience in that it inspires, informs, or helps solve a problem. In theory, content that does both will generate affinity for your business among the consumers you most want to reach. The challenge is identifying topics that fit both criteria.

Identifying Your Shared Interests

In an effort to determine those topics for our business and our target audience, we use an exercise called obsession mapping—a concept introduced to us by the team at Quartz.

Obsession mapping is a means of figuring out what topics are most worthy of your finite resources by identifying overlap between the things your business cares about and wants to say and the things your target audience cares about and finds value in. The overlap between those lists become the “obsessions” that should serve as the foundation of your content marketing strategy.

After a long brainstorming session, the following emerged as Block Club’s content obsessions for the new year:

  • Branding—Anything and everything related to brand strategy and identity, including design and copy, portfolio and hierarchy, and branded experiences.
  • Design—The aesthetics and functionality of the objects and systems that constitute our world.
  • Language and storytelling—Word choice and how to identify and tell powerful stories that inspire, motivate, compel, and incite.
  • Generating business and entrepreneurship—Best practices and strategies for running a successful company.
  • Buffalo—The people, stories, forces, and phenomena that shape the community we call home.
  • Discovering our world—The new-to-us things, places, art, media, people, and ideas that change the way we think.
  • Leadership—Steps, measures, and actionable advice to individual self-improvement in a professional capacity.

In 2019, our team will meet quarterly to generate specific topic ideas around each of the above obsessions. The ideas from those sessions will inform quarterly editorial calendars, which we will execute in service of our objectives. Because we are confident that these obsessions are on brand and relevant to our target audience, we can be reasonably sure that the production of that content will be time well spent.

Conducting Your Own Obsession Mapping Exercise

If you want to conduct an obsession mapping session within your organization, the process is simple.

  1. Gather your team in one place.
  2. Divide into small groups and then give each group a sheet of paper. Label one side brand and one side audience. (If your team is very small, work as individuals through step four.)
  3. Using the brand side of your paper, spend 15 minutes brainstorming the things your business finds interesting and wants to talk/write that also support its positioning. Record everything you think of. Get as granular with your ideas as you’d like.
  4. Turn your paper to the side labeled audience. Spend another 15 minutes brainstorming the topics, things, and ideas your target audience cares about and finds useful or interesting. It may be helpful to think about your audience’s challenges, pain points, and goals. Record everything you think of. Be as detailed with your ideas as you see fit.
  5. At the end of both brainstorming sessions, reconvene to discuss your ideas as a large group. Plot all ideas on a whiteboard and begin to draw connections between the two lists.

Assuming your business is even somewhat in touch with your target audience, clear commonalities should reveal themselves between your lists. Those commonalities are the obsessions that should undergird your soon to be new-and-improved content strategy.