Blogs, tweets, posts, newsletters. Where will all the copy come from?
For your credit union marketing plan, content pillars are your best friends. Between social media needs and marketing materials, copy can add up. Content pillars are the materials you can keep in your back pocket. With them, you can sail through daily communications and work ahead on scheduled communications. Just as you would lean on a friend, you can rely on your credit union’s content pillars!
A blank sheet of paper can be overwhelming. It sits before you, waiting to be filled. Where do the words come from? Where do the ideas come from? Brainstorming, obviously, is one answer. But holding a creative session each time you need to draft an email or send a tweet is ineffective. Being behind and not having a plan can be a huge waste of time. “Maximizing your time each day is all about switching from being in a reactive state to being in a proactive state,” productivity and time management coach Carl Pullein shares on Lifehack. “A reactive state is where you allow events outside your control to control what you do and how you feel. Consuming social media, negative news, getting involved in pointless debates and allowing email to control what you do each day at work. A proactive state is where you start the day with intention.”
Plan to Plan Ahead
Without a plan, items that are unimportant often become urgent when they don’t need to be. Planning ahead can help marketers better harness their time—something that can be sorely needed! According to data from Hubspot, the average marketer spends around 16 hours a week on routine tasks, such as creating and sending emails or monitoring social media. (And we know some of our hardworking credit union marketers may even be looking at that number and thinking, “Sixteen hours?! Is that all?”)
Where does the time go? While effective planning with a content calendar and resources like content pillars can’t give you back hours, they can make your days go smoother. So, instead of waiting to the last minute and dealing with tasks that pop up, it’s time to anticipate needs and focus on the intention behind the task.
What is a Content Pillar?
When you hear the phrase “content pillar” there’s a certain image that comes to mind, right? Perhaps it is a grand column, holding up an ancient building. Here is a fun fact: Greek columns emphasized architectural support while Roman columns gradually became more focused on providing decoration. When thinking about content pillars for your credit union marketing, get you content pillars that can do both. With the right content pillar, your marketing is elevated and supported—but also intriguing, creative, and visually stunning.
Sounds like a tall order. But that’s what makes content pillars so great! They can do both.
What is a content pillar? A content pillar is a rich source of information about your organization, appropriate for your audience and the public, that can be returned to time and again. Simply put, it is something big that can be broken down into smaller pieces. It may be a marketing pamphlet, member handbook, report, or blog post. Through your content pillars, you can support the overall larger volume of marketing and communications needs of your organization.
How Can Your Credit Union Use Content Pillars?
When you start to think about content pillars, you might not stop seeing them all around you. For example…
- An infographic from a report on available loans could become a Facebook post
- A quote from a longtime member in your credit union handbook could become a Tweet
- A seasonal print newsletter could provide material for an email communication
- And even a bullet-point list like this from a blog post could become the caption for an Instagram post!
Content pillars help you repurpose your information, making the most of your time, energy, and creative talents. Not only do content pillars keep you from having to go back to the drawing board for each communication, but they also ensure your marketing is smart and effective. Pull from the best of your marketing materials and then give it new life. Have your work do some work of its own.
Additionally, it’s important to note that content pillars can be returned to again and again, like the favorite book. Instead of using material from a content pillar once or twice, keep it on file. This can actually spur creativity. Imagine all the ways something could be repackaged. Don’t be afraid to ask, “How else could this be used?” or “Is there something I already have that would work for this?” The script for an informative video campaign around financial literacy for teens could turn into a series of quotes to post on social media, as well as a series of e-newsletters to share with parents and families. It’s all part of a cycle.
Of course, this does come with the caveat to stay smart. Stay focused. Even if you can reuse material, if it ends up on the wrong platform or doesn’t speak to your audience, it doesn’t work. Stick with your core social media and marketing best practices as a guide.
Tips for Finding and Tracking Content Pillars
While content pillars can help regiment your tasks and work ahead, you will need to start with some brainstorming. After all, the first thing to do is to track down your content pillars. To start, you should look for materials that will have much to offer you. Think big—your website, a handbook, a report—and keep in mind you will be breaking it down. So, your content pillars should broadly cover a topic, or many topics, that you can pull out for bite-sized content.
Consider what materials you already have or are likely to be creating:
- Infographics, still visuals, charts
- Email and print newsletters, and social media
- Handbooks for employees and members
- Original reports, slide shares, and tip sheets
- Interviews, Q&As, and surveys
- Quizzes and games
- Press releases and promotional materials
- Videos, podcasts, and webinars
The list could go on and on, and it represents your content matrix, or an inventory of your marketing and communications content. In looking at the list, some points may stand out to you as clear sources or not appropriate for your audience.
Why Content Pillars Will Work for Your Credit Union
Harness your communications in a spreadsheet, or in another visual medium that works for you, to track and look for opportunities. Creating a content calendar, where you can track what is being shared on various social media and marketing platforms each day of the month, will also help. In mapping out your plans, you will see how content pillars can be utilized—and think ahead to see what holes could be filled in with help from your trusty content pillars.
As part of your credit union marketing, content pillars will make your resources go the distance. Establishing and relying on your content pillars is an investment in your time. Once folded into your marketing and communications plans, content pillars will help uplift and extend your future communications.
At the end of each major marketing project, consider asking, “Now what?” or doing a quick brainstorm of how each piece could have a continue life. For each major project, come up with three ways its purpose can be extended and track its use. Eventually, it will become a habit. Like a circle of friends, your content pillars will grow. You’ll be glad to have them around!