Do you know what you should be writing this month? And next? And the month after that? If your content creation process is haphazard, rather than strategic, you could well be missing out. You might get by content wise, living hand to mouth, but your marketing efforts will be healthier and more cost effective, if you work to a plan.
Recent research by the Content Marketing Institute here in the UK suggests that whilst 85% of respondents use content marketing only 42% say they are using it effectively. In the same survey 71% of those who have one say they are effective, almost doubling their chances of success. The lesson is clear – if you want to be more effective at content marketing take the time to document your strategy and follow it closely.
A content strategy is your recipe for content marketing success but understanding how to create one is still a black hole in understanding for many. How do you get a good strategy together and what exactly does it involve? Here’s a 10-step recipe to help you cook up an effective content strategy.
Content marketing strategy in 10 steps
- Get clear on your goals. What is the difference that you want content marketing to make to your business? The clearer your focus, the more targeted your content marketing efforts will be. (Read our article on Making The Case For Valuable Content here)
- Know your business. Before you drill down into your customers’ needs, make time for a bit of naval gazing and look inside your company. This will help you to position your content firmly in your area of expertise. If you miss out this step there’s a danger that you’ll create content that meets your customers’ needs (and they will have many) but will never win you any business.
- Know your customers. Knowing what to talk about with your content relies on knowing who you are talking to and what they care about and value. You’ll know stuff about your customers of course, but to create content that really hits the spot you’ll need to go deeper. Get out of the office and ask your customers directly; call them up; spend some time interviewing them to uncover their real needs. Their answers will always surprise you.
- Find the story behind the content. The most valuable content of all communicates a strong story – not just a story of what a business does, or how it does it, but WHY the business exists, its purpose in the world – beyond financial targets.
- Set out your content sweet spot and vision. Now we get to the heart of your valuable content strategy process. What is the conversation you want to own with your content? Think big here. As a business, what are you better equipped than anyone else to help people with? Uncover your sweet spot then set out an inspiring vision for your content marketing. How will you win?
- Make a content commitment and plan. Your aim is to work towards a bank of high quality, valuable content that you can distribute effectively throughout the year. What’s your schedule? What commitment will you make to valuable content over the next 12 months? Remember: consistency and quality are always more important than volume. Aim for an achievable pattern – something you can stick to as a business.
- Prepare your platform and pick your tools. You have defined the vision for your content marketing. What kind of website platform will you need to support you in making that work? How will you create it and how will you get it out there? What content creation and distribution tools will you add to the mix to support your strategy?
- Organise to make it work. To make your content strategy work you’ll need a team, a budget and an efficient process. But who will be involved? What roles do you need in place to make the process work? How will you organise, work together and manage and control what you do?
- Measure what matters. Before you press go work out how you will assess whether your new strategy is working. You’ve done the thinking about your objectives and goals in Step 1 so refer back to the decisions you made here. Create a set of meaningful measures that are aligned to your ambitions as a business.
- Make it so. The power of any good strategy is in its implementation. What do the decisions you’ve made here mean for your website, how you’re organised, your current content, your business? What changes must be put in place to make the new strategy fly? The first thing to do is understand what content, tools and resources you already have at your disposal. Conduct a content audit and gap analysis. The place to begin is a detailed look at your current content. What do you have, and is it any good? Does it meet the needs of your new content strategy?
Marketers who take the time to document their content strategy are more effective than those who don’t. If you’re serious about content marketing and want to drive real competitive advantage do the hard thinking and take some time to write your content strategy down.