Content marketing has a lot of fan fare right now and I doubt it will taper any time soon. Interestingly enough, the increased demand in content marketers is met with a lack of supply of professionals that are wholly devoted to content marketing. Even the savviest PR and online marketers are looking to address needs in this space, but may not know exactly how to create the detailed and comprehensive content strategy needed to address the needs of its clients.
Whether you are a marketer looking to strengthen your chops in this area or a business owner with a knack for marketing, here is a starting point for what every content strategy needs to include.
Every content marketing strategy needs to be centered with a company’s overall brand story and value proposition. Keen self-awareness will ensure the content strategy communicates a consistent and authentic brand voice. Content is an opportunity to be very personal with your customers and so you will want to make sure that regardless of who in the organization is creating content or interfacing with consumers via various channels – there is a likeness in the underlying delivery that remains true to the brand values and story.
Answering the why behind your strategy will offer the necessary direction to craft a well though-out strategy. What are the company’s goals? What is the purpose for your content? Why are you creating it and what are your desired outcomes? Every content strategy has to answer this question in its own way. Whether it’s increasing influence and credibility, educating your audience, leading them to a purchasing decision, or a nice combination of these and some more – know what it is you are hoping to accomplish with your content strategy and then settle into the details, because every piece of content will also need to answer this question, too.
Target audiences. Personas, personas, personas. You can’t even begin to think of the specific content you need until you get focused on the audience consuming that content. Most marketers already have these well prepared in advance since these personas are the cornerstone for an overall marketing strategy. These personas that segment a company’s target audiences into fictional representations of who their customers are, what they are like (behaviors), pains/needs, and how that business meets that need will be invaluable to crafting highly effective and personalized content for customers a business is seeking to attract and nurture. If you need help getting started in this area, no problem! Download my eBook about creating personas here.
This is the research stage. You can’t really know what your customers are looking for if you haven’t done your homework first. This component of your content marketing strategy includes surveying your existing and prospective client base to verify pain points and needs, as well as channels that will be most effective to reach your customers.
Once you have this verifiable information based on real data from WHAT, you can confidently move forward to how you will execute / implement your strategy. How are you going to reach your target audiences with the information they are looking for? Or better yet, how are you going to attract your audience to your content that you know that they are looking for? Selecting the right channels you will focus on in your content strategy is important and requires that research to make sound decisions. This is the part of your content strategy that you pick your spots to be present and engage with your audience. Just a bit of advice: Better to master your presence in fewer channels than to take on many channels and perform poorly. And remember, prioritize based on where your customers are.
Creating a calendar to schedule for your content is a must. Once you know to whom you are creating, what they are looking for, how you are going to attract them to your content, and what each piece of content is intended to accomplish – – make certain to get it on your calendar. This is important for a few reasons:
- Commitment to consistency is what makes a content strategy successful in the long-run. One-hit-wonders may get you a lot of attention in a particular week, but it will soon be forgotten if you aren’t consistently putting out new pieces of content to reinforce your knowledge, influence, and presence in a particular space.
- Accountability. When you are creating content, it can be difficult to sustain original production. When you put your content ideas into a calendar, you can strategically plan out your time and type of content so that it never becomes too overwhelming for any one person. Content strategy naturally includes original content and content curation from other sources. The calendar keeps you accountable to yourself, motivated by what you’re trying to accomplish, and organized in your approach.
- Opportunity. When you are scheduling all of your content, you can easily see the opportunities to take an existing piece of content and re-purpose it into a different format at a different point in time.
A content strategy is only as good as what it accomplishes. Be certain to include what and how you will be tracking your efforts. Goals need to be set, metrics measured to determine effectiveness, and benchmarks to compare what has been done already and also compare it against industry standards. Certain types of content will have different metrics. Whole campaigns will have a different set of metrics for collective measuring and then the strategy itself is often measured against the bottom line impact and/or progress towards it.
Here’s to you and being successful in your content marketing efforts. The devil is in the details, so the more specific you are in each phase of your content strategy, the better.
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