As you likely know, content strategy is everything. Defining audiences, articulating content goals, and drawing out the content “storyboard” that creates a trail of assets (a kind of content funnel) from audience engagement to customer conversion is a time-honored practice that we all engage in in the hopes that our messaging will be properly calibrated, appropriate for the time of year (and the larger discourse surrounding the issue), and will hit the audience we want. And sometimes it does.
But some days, it’s a cold Monday in December and nothing’s right. Yeah, maybe your last piece of content did alright, but you’re really not seeing the conversion along your funnel you expected. Sound familiar? And, what’s worse, you know that your strategy was sound. The data supported that this “thread” of content was situationally (and occupationally) appropriate, that there would be engagement, and there’s not.
What you need, my friend, is a wildcard.
The Wildcard Asset, Defined
First off, the wildcard asset isn’t, exactly, wild. You’re not going to throw a post about baseball in a conversion flow (unless you’re really good at metaphors), nor are you going to diverge entirely from your strategy. Instead, wildcard assets should be used when you see a particular assumption—that one piece will lead the audience to the next—being upset.
In a way, the wild-card asset is a kind of mulligan, an whatever-I-was-thinking-didn’t-work-here-so-instead-let’s-try-this piece because, let’s face it, a content funnel is fragile and, like a regular funnel, a hole in the side doesn’t bode well for filling your glass.
So How Do You Begin Conceptualizing Wildcard Assets?
It’s pretty simple.
- First, just visit your strategy. I suspect that you have it laid out in a grid with 3-5 content “steps” having been articulated between a large-scale audience-engaged idea (like content strategy, for example) and a particular goal (like converting strategists to CircleBack.)
- Then, locate the step that failed. Where were you trying to go? What’s the next step?
- Once you understand the linkage (moving from a piece on “hitting content targets” to a more market-y piece on “how CircleBack can reduce bouncebacks by keeping contacts in your automation system up-to-date and accurate”), you can begin to address the problem.
- Ask yourself questions like “does this piece actually create a bridge to the next” to determine whether you need a piece between the two existing, or whether you simply need to rework on of the existing. Neither is terribly difficult to do, but, if you can avoid it, you don’t want to do both. You’ve got better ways to use your time.
- Then execute.
Best Practices for Wildcard Assets
Because wildcard assets are, inherently, off your strategy, you’ll want to pay close attention when you’re making them. Think, for example, about what could have interrupted audience interaction with your last piece. It likely wasn’t your strategy—if it’s been working so far—so there has to be something else. Is it the form of the content—infographic, video, blog post, etc.—or the time of year? Is there something in the media that’s reframed the way your piece could be received? Or have your audience members changed?
- Determine what went wrong. Without some solid intel on why the last piece failed, there’s a good chance you’re about to reproduce the failure.
- Change the form. Even if that isn’t the problem, a variety of content is always more likely to engage.
- Own your failure. Don’t ever acknowledge that you’re creating this piece as a way of correcting something else.
- Take a risk. Say something you wouldn’t normally say, or take on a new tone. Wildcard posts can help you fix your current content funnel, but they’re also a place to experiment with new possibilities you might employ in your next quarter’s strategy.
Wildcard posts are, in and of themselves, a bit risky, a bit wild, but if employed safely, can definitely get your content funnel back on track. By developing these pieces alongside your existing strategy, you’ll be able to plug holes without the threat of derailing months of planning and work. And hey, you might even find something you never imagined would work.