Design your content strategy with this framework: The Rogue Fitness example
Updated: Feb 3, 2022
An amazing 2021 Crossfit Games finished earlier this week with many memorable moments and highlights which help overcome some of the tumultuous moments the brand has gone through over the past 12-15 month. From our perspective, other than the athletes themselves, we believe Rogue Fitness, official sponsor of the Games, was one of the other clear winners given how they leveraged the return of the competition to generate bulk amounts of content across different platforms and engage users worldwide.
In this post, we will use Rogue´s content strategy as a prime example of how to design a content strategy framework based on the following elements:
A content strategy starts with thorough user research
A high performing content framework is always user-based; it should not be about what a brand wants to talk about but rather focus on what the user, customer or fans wants to hear or needs.
Then, try to find a match between what your brand can talk about, what your potential customers look for and where they want to find it.
The best way to do this? Talk to customers if you can. Yes, surveys, focus groups and polls are nice but nothing beats a good conversation with your customers or fans. Rogue Fitness could potentially talk to brick & mortar gyms, users, athletes, people setting up their own gym, industry experts, etc.
Identify the layers of your content territories
Defining content territories can be compared to an onion or a cake with different layers. In the center, you will place your brand / product. Then, in the next layer, you can talk about the functionalities of what you offer and as you move farther away from the center, you would touch upon more "emotional based" or "generic" territories.
In Rogue Fitness´case for instance, and based on the content they already cover, it would look something like this:
As we mentioned, the brand goes in the center and the first layer could discuss topics such as tutorials, different product lines they have, offers, how other fitness owners use their equipment in their own facilities, garage gym ideas from other users, etc. In sum, these are more functional benefits...
Then, if Rogue would move up a layer, they could go into a more "behavior" based territory. This would entitle workout routines, overall benefits of embracing a strength training regime for physical performance or appearance, success journeys (both of gyms battling through difficult times or people making radical change in their routines), etc.
Finally, Rogue could enter a layer with more miscellaneous topics that tie into the brand storytelling strategy such as Crossfit athletes they sponsor, the Crossfit games, mental benefits of working out regularly, routines of the best performers, state of the industry, workout trends and so on.
Two final thoughts here:
In general terms, the framework goes from more "brand specific" topics to "broader" ones, but that have some form of relationship with the business. However, brands should understand how to tie this to the marketing funnel. In general terms, potential customers are more on the "broader" spectrum and the key is to identify the topics that will drive initial interest to purchase.
On the other hand, current customers tend to be more on the "specific" realm and ideally, we want them to remember and share our brand with others. In other words, distinguish between users that look for information or inspiration vs those that have purchase intent. All of them matter but you cannot "feed" them the same content...
After defining all the elements you could talk about, you need to pick and choose the most relevant topics as you will probably not have time or resources to pursue all of the possible topics out there. This is a key decision.
Getting to "Territory vs Channel" fit
Once you have defined all the potential territories and the ones you will pursue, a decision needs to be made around the channels where you will play the game; this will determine the success of the strategy. For example, would you rather read a description of a home gym on a tweet? Or would you prefer seeing it on an Instagram post or YouTube video?
This is defined as "territory vs channel" fit and, once again, this goes back to the idea that you will need to understand where your users are and perhaps more importantly, where are they willing to listen to you. Moreover, when making that choice, it is better to focus on less channels and aim to create outstanding content rather than creating more but of mediocre quality.
Rogue Fitness for instance takes their content strategy to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube but it would be cool to understand if it is in their plans to launch a Tik Tok channel or embrace other emerging platforms such as Snapchat, Discord or Pinterest.
The difference between owned, paid or earned media
You also need to understand that there are 3 types of media your message could distributed across, which also feed from the territories you have previously defined:
Owned Media: These are social media platforms, web page, YouTube or Twitch channels, blog, your own podcast show, newsletters, etc.
Paid Media, which is defined by social media advertising, Google advertising, specialized media, influencers, etc.
Earned Media: This is generally any form of user generated content or coverage you get without having paid for it.
Some examples of how Rogue executes its content strategy across the different types of channels are the following:
Owned Media - The Tia-Clair Toomey Tribute
Rogue Fitness published this video as a tribute to 5 time Crossfit Games winner, Tia-Clair Toomey on their YouTube channel.
Then, they distributed the same video across their different platforms as to increase distribution:
At the end of the day, their objective was to increase the reach of the video and generate more brand awareness.
Paid Media: Activating its sponsorship agreement with the Crossfit Games through Dave Castro.
Of course, if you have ever encountered Rogue Fitness ads in social media or Google, those are other examples of "paid media," which would also include influencer marketing or promoted content across the web.
Earned Media: Equipment reviews are a classic in this space
This is a challenge for many brands as it is the only type of media that is beyond their control. For this to work, you need make sure your brand, your story and your product are remarkable and worth sharing.
A very popular form of earned media for fitness manufacturers are product reviews, in which people from the industry (trainers, athletes, gym owners, etc.) go into great detail about the functionalities and specs of a product.
On the other hand, this blog post would be another example of Earned Media for Rogue Fitness.
One source of content can feed multiple distribution platforms
Keep in mind that you will need to adapt the content you wish to create to each platform you wish to use (which is why embracing too many channels is a difficult challenge). This does not mean you need to create different pieces for each platform but that you will need to "repurpose" it in a way that fits their context. For example, Rogue Fitness currently does it like we showed you above but another approach could potentially break it down as follows:
Interview one of their sponsored athletes and put it on a podcast
Pick up highlights of that athlete and create a YouTube video with some excerpts of the interview being used as a supportive audio.
Chop that video into short form video for Instagram, Facebook and Tik Tok (vs. posting the same video across platforms).
Create "quote based" images for Instagram and Pinterest.
Tweet that same sentence.
The magic is that you can later create paid advertising using the organic content that generated the most engagement afterwards.
A framework would look something like this:
The fact that you covered different topics in the initial interview lets you create different content which you can aim at different segments of the market. For instance, you discuss a topic around "current workout plans" which would appeal to trainers but also talk about "the initial days of their Crossfit experience" to try to get new users into the sport.
Validating the strategy with analytics & business KPIs
This plan does not really make sense if you don´t tie these efforts to business KPIs. In other words, what is the path to revenue?
Each channel should have specific metrics that determine if the tactic was successful or not and you need to distinguish between "Top of funnel" metrics that would help understand "brand awareness" performance metrics such as CTR.
Do not get distracted though and fall into the trap of "vanity metrics." Sales is the KPI that matters. "No sales = no cash = no business."
Just as an example, imagine the case of a user who likes Crossfit that is interested in building his or her own home gym. A framework that tackles the path from awareness to purchase through the different channels and territories would look something like this:
The role of analytics is of upmost importance to understand if you are heading in the right direction or not. Not only will you see results of your undergoing actions but you will also be able to test new ideas using an "A/B testing" approach.
A word of caution though: don´t be obsessed about attribution. Most of the times, completing a buying process is not a linear journey for customers (specially when dealing with expensive equipment both at a B2C & B2B level) and you should understand the role each channel plays in the customer journey. Assume there are purchases you will never understand where they come from. For example, let´s say someone listen´s to your podcast and tells a friend about it. That friend then ends up buying but you will have a difficult time understanding that the original source of interest was the podcast a friend heard.
It´s a complex situation so, to a degree, you also need to use your intuition to see if what you do has an impact on the P&L or not...
This is actually one of the ideas that Peter Drucker shared in his brilliant book, "The Effective Executive." He basically warns about how the reliance on data and analytics on what has "already happened" removes us from relying on our perception & intuition on the dynamics that could take place in the future, which is actually one of our strengths as humans.
Content strategy is something all sport & fitness businesses need to do
Rogue Fitness is a big business with enough resources to carry out such an extended content strategy, but this should not discourage you even if you currently are a smaller player. The essence is the same, but you will need to decide and choose fewer territories, fewer channels, and fewer tactics.
You will need to simplify things a bit, which does not mean it will be easier, but in any case, framing the content strategy this way will help you be more efficient in the path to brand building, creating affinity, driving conversion and sales.
We hope this framework and business case was useful and feel free to contact us if we can help your sport or fitness brand design a content strategy of your own.