Many businesses have become aware of the value of a content marketing strategy, or what is usually called a content calendar. Planning out public messaging to coincide with sales, holidays, industry key dates, etc. is generally what marketing departments want to plan for, and this tactical strategy makes sense.
Many think that this plan/calendar achieves one of the business goals of planning out digital content. But, this barely scratches the surface of a content marketing strategy.
What is not included in this plan/calendar approach are elements like – who your audience is, what the message(s) are, calls-to-actions, etc. These are strategic elements that need to be determined prior to the implementation of the tactical work of the plan/calendar.
Do you need a content marketing strategy?
Yes! Not only do you need a strategy, but you also need to document it. Marketing industry research shows that those with a documented content marketing strategy:
- Are far more likely to track and report the results of their content marketing
- Feel more equipped to implement their content marketing across multiple channels
- Can distribute messaging more effectively and proactively
- Were able to justify their marketing budget on content marketing
So, let’s back up a bit and look at a more strategic approach to your content marketing. Here are FIVE steps that you should take before even completing your content plan/calendar.
Step 1: Make Your Business Case for Content Marketing
By communicating your reasons for creating content, the risks involved, and your vision of what success will look like, you are much more likely to gain executive support for your strategy — and to get permission to move forward and to invest business resources.
Step 2: Clearly Identify your Content Marketing Goals
By clearly defining the desired results for the content marketing efforts you are able to track actual activity against that goal. Additionally, your goals would include the value of the content to the audience, competitive threats, and marketing opportunities. All of this information will help you identify what IS working and what ISN’T working.
Step 3: Map out your ‘Buyer Personas’ and Content for their buying journey
Having a clear picture of your target audience(s) with a buyer persona will help to clarify what the content and messaging should look like. Also, understanding their buying journey, you will be able to craft content that will appeal to them at the top, middle, and bottom of the funnel.
Step 4: Develop your Brand Message
This step involves clearly defining what your brand message is, the value of your brand, and how it is different from your competitors. In all communication channels today, your message can not sound like everybody else.
Step 5: Determine the Communication Channels You Will Use
Depending upon your product/service, some communication channels will provide a better connection with your audience than others. Some social media channels are geared toward different age groups and other demographics. Text messaging may be preferred over phone calls. A press release might be a viable option.
With a clearly defined ‘buyer persona’ and message, the selection of the best channels will become easier to choose.
At the end of the day, a content marketing strategy helps you to become more effective with your content creation. You will know who you are communicating with, what they want to hear/know, and what ‘conversion’ steps you are hoping your audience will take.
And once this content marketing strategy is developed, it should be a ‘living document’ that is distributed throughout the organization and is updated regularly to ensure it reflects the latest messaging and industry trends.
If you and your business team are struggling to put together a content marketing strategy, please give us a call.