When you begin thinking about content marketing and your content strategy, before you even write a word, you need to answer three questions.
1. Why content marketing?
2. What’s in it for me?
3. Why will your audience care?
You need to think who you are creating content for, who you are helping, which specific personas and how you help them in a way no one else can. Brands and companies typically use content marketing to build audiences and profit: either increased revenue, a reduction in advertising or production costs, or “better” customers (who convert faster or have a higher customer lifetime value).
Develop Your Content Strategy
Your content strategy must include your content origination, publication, resources required and the distribution of useful, relevant content that resonates with your target customers and personas. Content marketing isn’t just about writing loads of stuff, it’s the very output of your organisation, your sales teams, social channels, owned and earned media as well as your website.
Having a content plan and sticking to it is critical in business. Otherwise, you’re publishing without purpose and you won’t know how successful you’ve been or where you went wrong. Your content marketing will be far more effective with a strategy and each element of your plan roll out and implementation will feel less challenging.
Having developed a content strategy for several businesses, there are generally five common elements you need to cover off to be successful. These are your:
- Business Case
- Business Plan
- Story (including emotion)
- Channel plan
Preparing Your Content Plan
Your content plan needs to be tactical and include:
- How will you execute your strategy? Be speciic.
- What resources will you need?
- How is your content strategy being measured?
- Who will be handling each task?
- What does success look like?
You have to build the strategy before you build your plan. The the key elements are easier to implement such as the key topic areas you will cover, what content you will create, what type of content you will create, when and how to share your content, and when to bring in specific calls to action to prompt engagement or progress your visitors down your buyers journey. There’s a lot of detail in there… what tech will you use?
1. Your Content Marketing Business Case
When you pull together your reasons for content marketing, the risks, the upsides and the downsides, your vision of what success looks like is a lot easier to understand and buy into. Your CEO and board are much more likely to get behind it. It also gives you the time needed to learn on the job and try things out… You’ll be developing, adjusting and optimising your content strategy consistently over time as new channels appear and certain channels just don’t work for your business. Remember to share learnings and share your content success. What made it fly? Why was it a hit? How do you replicate it? How can you improve on that next time?
2. Your Content Marketing Business Plan
What are you trying to achieve? What goals should you have? What’s going to be the kick ass piece of expertise that you will offer? What unique value will your content bring? What’s going to make it harder and what resources have you already got internally that you can harvest your content from or generate content with relatively easily? Content marketing goals include:
- Brand awareness and engagement
This is a strong goal for businesses that may not sell a product online.
- Prospect conversion and lead nurturing
Your content brings prospects through their buyer’s journey, supports your sales teams and with automation can capture data, nurture leads and create opportunity.
- Customer conversion
Content reinforces decision-making and turns opportunities into customers.
- Customer loyalty/retention/up-sell
If you understand your customer personas, you can up-sell, cross-sell and turn customers into repeat customers as well as evangelists, increasing lifetime value.
3. Your audience – target customers and ideal content
Here you need to be as specific as possible. You need to outline who your audience is, identify what personas they fall into (three or four personas is usually fine), and what their ideal content engagement cycle might be like and over what period and the frequency you should be hitting them. You should work out what sort of information they’re looking for, what format and what content you can deliver that will help them move nicely along their buyer’s journey so you can solve their issue and ease their pain.
4. Your story (make it compelling and interesting!)
Here, you characterise your content marketing in terms of what ideas and messages you want to communicate, how your messages differ from your competitors, how you see your specific areas of expertise evolving and their world changing as a result after you have shared your content with your prospects and target audience. (After reading this, I’m hoping you’ll be able to work mine out!)
5. Your Channel Plan
The most important element of your whole content plan (perhaps) is to go where your customers are. Where do they go and graze for information and where do they hang out? This should include the platforms they use and will be the ones you should use to tell your story. Make it appropriate for each channel and set your criteria, processes, and objectives for each channel. Importantly, how will you engage with your prospects when they engage with you?
Share your content marketing strategy with others
When you have different stakeholders who have bought into your content strategy and your content plan, it means they’re aware of what you are doing and why. Importantly, they’ll be able to contribute to it and more engaged when you ask for content from them!
This is crucial in big teams or large companies, ensures everyone is on the same page and knows what they’re doing and why. It also helps when briefing out content generation requirements to suppliers or team members. They’ll see the bigger picture.
The best news is you can use examples of success to win over your sceptics What do people care about most? This should help you determine which components of your content marketing strategy are most appropriate to share with each team.
Adapt and optimise your content marketing strategy
Some parts of your content marketing strategy will stay the same as your program rolls out. Your strategy, personas and purpose should remain the same. (If they were right in the first place)
Certain elements should be reviewed and will be updated systematically. You have to adjust to keep your eye on your targets, which channels are working, what topics resonate, is the team heavy lifting or are there easier ways to create your content? Review this monthly to be being with, learn what metrics are important, then you can usually review your strategy quarterly and adjust as appropriate.
Content Marketing Tactics
Content marketing includes loads of production but this doesn’t have to be onerous. There are a whole heap of tactics, you just need to pick one that resonates best with your audience. These include:
|Videos||How-tos / Tutorials|
|Podcasts||Reviews / Case studies / Interviews|
|Presentations||Books / Guides|
How will you use content marketing to drive your business?