[VIDEO] Future Proof Your Content Planning with Advice from Jillian Hillard

 In Content Marketing, Content Planning

In an age where single-digit clickthrough rates are par for the course in marketing, ever wondered if we’re missing opportunities to engage audiences more deeply?

In our recent content planning research, just 7% of respondents reported meeting all their objectives. To be frank, most of us know we can do better than that. But in the face of constant technological change, customer behavioral shifts, and a blaring daily news hype cycle, most of us feel stuck and overwhelmed.

In response, we are running a new video series titled, “Future Proof Your Content Planning”, in which six leading brand marketers discuss how they create content, motivate their teams, overcome today’s toughest content barriers, and ultimately future proof their content programs.

Today’s video interview features Jillian Hillard, Director of Brand Marketing – Small Appliances, at Electrolux. Jillian offers deep insights and hands-on solutions for solving the biggest challenges we face in content today. Enjoy!

In addition to our ongoing video series, we’re also assembling a toolkit to help you future proof your content program. It includes resources ranging from content planning research and a content marketing strategy guide, to our soon-to-be-released content performance measurement playbook.

For those of you who prefer to read instead of watch video, here are 3 key takeaways from Jillian Hillard’s interview.

1. Use Data-driven Research to Inform Content

“You need to understand what your customer wants. What better way is there to do that than actually ask them?”

Audience research is something nearly every company talks about, but few actually utilize. For some it seems too expensive. For others, the process may seem far fetched or unfamiliar. But without a good handle on what content your customers actually want, how can you possibly be successful in what you deliver?  In her interview, Jillian points out the importance of this simple, but essential step to future proofing your content program.

Here are three simple methods she shared for getting data-driven audience ideas:

Employ social listening

Your customers and would-be customers are absolutely available to you via social media. The challenge is leveraging the right tools and behaviors in order to get information from them. Consider reaching out for their open-ended thoughts about the type of content they like, or just thoughts about common problems and challenges they face in their everyday life. Be sure to offer an incentive. A few hats, t-shirts, or movie tickets go a long ways.

Move away from traditional surveys

Survey research has fallen by the wayside. Few customers want to fill out surveys these days, and even the mention of it drives many customers away. While having quantitative data is helpful, it’s not as important as getting honest data-driven feedback from your audience. And if you really want to do a survey, consider partnering with a research company who can tap a panel of some kind.

Talk with your customer service team

If your company has a customer service team, they will be overjoyed to tell you what customers are complaining about. So if you can’t talk directly to customers for one reason or another, ask customer service! They are the next best thing.

Get the Guide: How to Future-Proof Your Growth with Content Marketing Fundamentals

2. Get Real About Resources

“One of the first things to do is assess whether you have the right resources. If you don’t have the right resources, you’ll never get that content done.”

No matter how lofty your content goals are, you can’t survive on your own for long. Unless you pound a dozen energy drinks a day and become a content superhero by night. In truth, even a small team will run into many hurdles when trying to create content consistently at scale. Especially in today’s increasingly fast-paced visual content landscape. Video, motion graphics, 3D, even augmented reality might be part of your marketing mix.

So, take Jillian’s advice. Get real about resources. Do you have a graphic designer? Videographer? Writers? Editors? Project managers? Who is going to handle each piece of the puzzle?

If you don’t know, the time to figure it out is before launching a content initiative.

Here are your options when it comes to putting the resources in place to ensure your content program is future proof:

Hiring new talent

Finding the right talent from a skills and culture standpoint is not easy. But there are plenty of networks, job boards, and communities to tap into. When hiring for a content program, you’ll want to find professionals comfortable with the changing nature of marketing. They might be writing a blog post today and a video script tomorrow. And in five years? Who knows! Whether designer, writer, video editor or something else, your team should thrive on change and be open to learning new skills.Training current employees

There are likely many strong candidates right under your nose. Does your agency already have a creative team? Are all of their talents being utilized? Put the word out at your company that you are launching a new content initiative and will need fresh ideas. Be sure to give everyone the templates and frameworks that will help them find success.

Outsourcing to a freelancer or agency

If you don’t have the talent in-house, and you need to get your program off the ground fast, then it might be time to tap an agency, or freelancer who specializes in the kind of content you’re looking for. Be sure you secure reliable reviews or endorsements of any freelancer or agency you partner with. Don’t rush headlong into a contract without vetting your resources from a talent, and reliability standpoint.

3. Plan In Advance but Be Prepared to Pivot

“The world constantly changes as new things happen within pop culture. On a monthly basis you should be evaluating what order your content is released. The good news is you’ll always have content in your back pocket, but sometimes you’ll have to push certain pieces aside and run with what’s fresh and hot at the time.”

For many marketers, it can be hard to think like journalists. We plan our campaigns, advertisements, budgets and strategies months in advance. To think that we would willy nilly change something last minute because of some silly pop culture trend? Blasphemy!

But your customers are barraged by pop culture, and surrounded by media. All those articles, tweets, memes, Facebook stories and late night TV interviews they are watching can cue you in on what’s top of mind for your target customer.

Here are a few ways to keep a pulse on what’s trending:

Google Trends

Google Trends is a solid baseline for (you guessed it) what’s trending in search engines. This is usually a fairly solid barometer of what’s happening over the course of a week, and how much organic consumer attention it’s getting. Next time you are about to release a blog post, video, campaign or anything else, do a quick Google Trends search and see if your content could relate in any fashion. Or, remove things from your content that might appear offensive in that trending landscape.


Reddit is a sub-culture gold mine. This forum-based website offers a sneak peak into nearly any passion community free of charge. Are you creating content for downhill ski nuts? There’s a Reddit thread for that. Want to get a gauge on those DevOps engineers you’re trying to create content for? Yeah, there are Reddit threads galore for that, too. The point is, if you want to go deeper into the cultural territory of your target audience, Reddit can get you at least halfway there.


Buzzsumo is a highly informative blogging and social media research tool. By simply typing in a topic, or keyword, Buzzsumo will show you the most shared and highest performing pieces of content on the internet. When you want to know what’s resonating, shareability is key; which is exactly what Buzzsumo tells you.

Tune in for Tim Washer Next Week

Curious how to add some comedy to your content mix? Next week we’ll be featuring advice from Tim Washer, Creative Director at Cisco. He weighs in on all things content planning and strategy, and reveals some fun tips for getting a few laughs.

Subscribe to the DivvyHQ blog today and get exclusive access to this video series. The next installment is coming up in just one week!

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