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If You’re Struggling to Maintain a Cohesive Message for Your Brand, You Need an Editorial Policy & a Style Guide!

It’s no secret that inbound marketing is a game changer for small businesses. However, many entrepreneurs find themselves struggling to keep up with multiple platforms and processes. Couple that with the outsourcing of your content development to employees or contractors, and what’s the result? A lack of cohesive messaging for your brand.

In the past, editorial policies and style guides were used mainly for journalists, publications, and online bloggers. As businesses have begun to curate content as part of their marketing strategy, the same principles apply.

Not sure where to start with the editorial guidelines for your small business brand? We can help!

 
 

"A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer's decision to choose one product or service over another."

– Seth Godin

 
 

Why Do I Need Policy Development for my Marketing Efforts?

Every small business needs a documented editorial policy and a style guide to be truly effective with content marketing. Think about it this way:

Imagine you were hosting Thanksgiving dinner and set a beautiful table, but only served frozen dinners. You likely wouldn’t be asked to host again. The same goes for a style guide without an editorial policy. You can have the most beautiful design and implementation, but if the meat and potatoes of your strategy (your content) aren’t there – your audience will look elsewhere.

At the same time, if you were to cook an amazing turkey dinner and expect everyone to eat standing up with flimsy paper plates – you’re likely not next year’s hosting pick either. The same is true for an editorial policy without a style guide. Presentation matters! Don’t waste good content with haphazard graphics, excessive slang, or poorly selected images.

So, why do you need an editorial policy and a style guide for your small business?

 

 

#1: An Editorial Policy & A Style Guide Will Keep Your Message Cohesive

An editorial policy defines the objective of your content marketing strategy. Is your goal to drive people to your website? Is it to generate leads? Is it to sell products? Perhaps one of your goals is to provide added value to your customers. Whatever your purpose, an editorial policy helps to keep your brand messaging on track.

This policy establishes parameters for what kind of content your business will produce and promote. It can also inspire you if you find yourself with a dreaded case of writer’s block.

An editorial policy for a business is a bit different than those used for publications or bloggers. An effective policy should cover:

  • Brand objectives
  • Brand color & image parameters
  • Guidelines for social media posts
  • Guidelines for blog posts (if applicable)
  • Crisis management procedure
  • Link policies
  • Press guidelines

A style guide covers imagery and presentation of your content – or how you structure and implement your content. This includes use of punctuation, grammatical guidelines, and use of slang or jargon. A style guide also includes parameters for design, use of the company logo, stock photography selection, colors, video format, and similar elements. This is extremely helpful when you have multiple contributors working on your content.

By establishing exactly how you want to be perceived on a variety of platforms and situations, you can better communicate your message cohesively.

 

 

#2: It Keeps You Focused

As entrepreneurs, it can be tempting to copy off another business owner’s ideas. We see another business using a new tool or strategy, and we assume that it MUST work for us, right? Maybe not. There is no “one size fits all” content template that will work for every business. Your brand is unique. You solve specific problems using a creative approach or product(s).

Having a documented editorial policy and style guide for your content strategy forces you to think twice about every new marketing opportunity. You must consider:

  • “Is this really a good fit for me?”
  • “Is this really going to help us meet our goals?”
  • “Does this really fit with everything else we’re doing?”
  • “How can I make my content parameters fit within this platform?”

This is good for three reasons:

  • First, it helps you to stay the course for maximum results. You’ll be focused and consistent with the platforms you’ve already engaged – which is vital for success in social media, blogging, and other inbound marketing practices.
  • It also keeps you from spending money on projects that don’t work for your brand.
  • Finally, it helps you benchmark specific practices to determine the best method to grow your following and generate leads.

 

 

#3: It Helps to Mitigate Risk to Your Brand

At some point in the life of your business, you’re going to deal with difficult customers. In today’s world, it’s likely that there may be an exchange on one of your online forums. Having an editorial policy in place will take emotion out of the equation and gives you a set of guidelines to follow to manage the situation professionally.

Another consideration comes in when you outsource your content development and audience engagement to an employee or an outside firm. You want the transition to be smooth, and for your audience to never know the difference between you posting and an employee posting.

An editorial policy establishes boundaries for your team and empowers them to post without having to worry about whether they are doing it correctly. They know exactly how they are supposed to represent the company because you’ve documented it for them. This means fewer headaches for you, and less potential for disaster for your company.

 

 

Custom Editorial Policy

$2700Flat Fee

Includes:

Includes Consultation & Brand Audit Covers:

  • Brand objectives
  • Brand color & image parameters
  • Guidelines for social media posts
  • Guidelines for blog posts (if applicable)
  • Crisis management procedure
  • Link policies
  • Press guidelines
 

 

Custom Style Guide

$3500Flat Fee

Includes Consultation & Brand Audit Covers:

  • Photo Use
  • Video Use
  • Graphics & Infographics
  • Social Media Written Content
  • Writing Goals & Principles
  • Voice & Tone
  • Writing About People & Third Party Commentary (handling posts from other users)
  • Grammar & Mechanics
  • Punctuation
  • Proper Display of People, Places & Things
  • Writing About Your Company
  • Writing About Clients
  • Writing About Clients & Strategic Partners
  • Slang & Jargon Use
  • Text Formatting
  • Writing Positively
  • Handling Negative Commentary & Reviews
  • Blog Post Formatting
  • Technical Content Guidelines
  • Email Newsletter Guidelines
  • Structured Content & Calendaring Guidelines
  • Copyright & Trademark Concerns
  • Keyword List/Keywords to avoid
  • Managing Negative Reviews
  • Managing Positive Reviews
  • How to Use the Guide
 
 

Our policy development packages are best paired with a strategy development package and/or a training package.