Content marketing strategy can sound like one of those intimidating things. Bear in mind, there are very few businesses, particularly successful ones, that don’t have a plan for what they do. The most successful ones have a clear view on why they’re in business, as well as how they do the “what” of their business.
Do not be afraid of the word “strategy”
It’s just a word.
Like Voldemort. Take its power away by using it.
And it’s a word that means, in essence, a plan. You’ve been making plans all your life. A business strategy is no different. And a content marketing strategy is just another kind of plan.
But plans are vital to stop you doing stuff just for the sake of doing stuff. Doing it because it’s trendy. Or because everyone else is doing this. It’s worth going back to my post about what is content marketing, and why you need it. If you’re convinced that it’s right for you and your business, then start thinking about your plan. Remember without a plan then it’s just piles of activity with no clear purpose.
First things first.
Who is your customer?
You’ve really got to start here. If you don’t know this, then how will you know what kind of content they need and want? Think about everything you know about the customers you want.
You might have read about creating customer avatars, which really means a pen portrait of your ideal customer. In my years in marketing I’ve written many of these, and sometimes they’re useful, and sometimes they all feel a bit contrived.
For example, in classic avatars, there would be a focus on age. But we all know age isn’t what it used to be, and terrible assumptions tend to get made around what people of certain ages want and do.
First off, think about what you do know about them, and their habits, and use that. Do you know where they spend their time? Are they old school readers, Twitter fans or Facebook scrollers? Do they like images or video? Really do take the time to get to know them and be able to understand them.
What are they looking for?
Are they looking for information, for entertainment, to solve a problem or for some inspiration? It might be that they are looking for all of those things from you at different times, and potentially in different ways.
If you’re not sure, then you could look at what similar brands in your field, or brands that you admire, are up to. See what pieces of content get the most engagement. A little bit of stalking now will give you a solid starting point for your own plan.
Think about the conversations you have with customers, both in real life and online. What do they tell you about what they love about your product, what problem it solves for them, how does it make life better for them? All that helps you think about what they need from you.
The other key thing – what’s the purpose of all this?
As well as knowing your customer it’s just worth thinking again about why are you doing this. What is it that you want to achieve? While they say that a goal without a plan is just a wish, a plan without a goal is probably just wishful thinking of success ahead. Know your goal before you start writing a content marketing strategy (or any strategy for that matter).
Are you looking for more customers? Your current customers to buy more? A different type of customer? To grow your email list? There’s no right or wrong answer here, just make sure you make a goal that you can measure success against.
Review what you’ve already done
Unless you’re a brand new business (feel free to skip this step), you’ll probably have produced some content of varying types already. Learn from what you’ve done, analyse what worked in those things. If you’ve got a website then also look at your stats for all your pages. Where do you get the most traffic, and where do you get the most conversions?
There’s a great guide to doing a content audit on the Curata website, I really recommend it as a simple yet comprehensive approach that anyone could try.
Know what makes your business unique
I am a big fan of Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why“. The why of your business is what makes you unique, and will help you create content that plays on that. So, your customers will tell you what they want to hear about; their habits will tell you how and where they want to hear from you. Your uniqueness will give you the spin and angles to make your content stand out in amongst the noise, and get engagement and action from your customers.
Draw up a calendar
Now you know why, who, what and how then you just need to think about when. Draw up a calendar to show what posts you’re going to create when, in what format, for what channel. You should also know which of your customers needs or asks of content each one is answering.
You don’t really need anything fancy for this. A spreadsheet will do the job. The important thing is that it’s a living document, that you update and review it.
No strategy is fixed. Without reviewing it then you have no idea what’s working and what isn’t. You need to know when to amend your course, even if the goal stays the same.
There’s a lot to think about, and it’s not complicated. It just requires some work. Sadly, like most things in life there are no shortcuts if you want it to work well. It rarely works quickly. It doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile.
Where are you on this content marketing strategy journey? Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t have everything in place, or have done parts and not stuck with it. You are not the only one. What have you got stuck on?