As a marketer, it's important to develop the skills and knowledge required to plan and execute content marketing strategies in ways that are persona-oriented, data-driven, and aligned with your business objectives. Your first step is to build a strong foundation.
In this article, we're going to look at ways of laying a strong foundation for a powerful strategy to build your business using content.
Most marketers jump into producing content without defining why they are creating it, and what they are trying to achieve with it. This is a huge mistake. You need to make these decisions first so that you give your content clarity and focus – and stand out as a content marketing pro.
By the end of this article, you will know exactly what your objectives are, as well as your target audience and your content marketing strategy. You will be able to plan and create content with the confidence of knowing that you are crafting the type of content that will effectively engage your prospects and customers and help you grow your business.
But before we get to those decisions, let's define exactly what content marketing is.
Content Marketing Defined
Content marketing is strategic marketing that is focused on consistently producing and publishing valuable, relevant content to attract and retain your ideal audience – and to ultimately drive profitable action from customers.
Content marketing helps you to:
Your Content Marketing Strategy in 6 Easy Steps
Step 1 - Create Your Content Planning Document
Step 2 - Decide on Your Objectives
Step 3 - Define Your Target Audience
Step 4 - Craft Your Strategy
Step 5 - Choose Your Publishing Platform
Step 6 - Content Management
Step 1 - Create Your Content Planning Document
The decisions that you're going to make regarding how you will structure and manage all your content marketing activities need to be written down in such a way that you end up with a clear, actionable plan that will guide your content creation and promotion from now on.
Here is what you must do:
- Column A – Content Types
- Column B – Channel
- Column C – Objective
- Column D – Structure
- Column E – Frequency
- Column F – Tone
- Column G - Desired Action
- Column H – URL
Underneath that, create a box for recording and tracking your business objectives:
- Business Objectives
- Business Impact
- 1st Quarter Results
- 2nd Quarter Results
- 3rd Quarter Results
- 4th Quarter Results
And that's it. You have created a simple document for your strategic planning. Now you can start to make the necessary decisions to begin developing your content marketing strategy.
Your Objectives For Content Marketing
During this planning stage, it's vital to know the kind of results that you want to achieve before deciding how you will achieve them. Right now some of the decisions that you have to make may feel like guesswork, and that's alright.
Content marketing, like all other marketing strategies, is one where you need to test your ideas in order to find out what works well for your business. So make educated guesses for now, and you will be able to change your mind later if those decisions don't give you the results that you desire.
1. Decide How You Are Going To Use Content Marketing To Grow Your Business
(There is no right or wrong answer here. Simply pick one).
- Prospecting: Generate leads
- Sales: Close sales more quickly
- Marketing: Boost interest in your products or services
- PR: Build or repair public opinion of your brand or products
- Community: Cultivate relationships with fans who interact socially with your brand
- Customer Support: Help users get the most value from your products
- Thought Leadership: Get respect and name recognition, influence your industry
2. Decide on Your Specific Goals
Name one primary and two or three secondary goals for your marketing efforts. Try to be as specific as possible. For instance, you may want to name the exact outcome that you want to see, or maybe the percentage of improvement. You could even include a time frame for accomplishing that goal.
3. Decide How Your Content Marketing Efforts Fit Into Your Overall Digital Marketing Plan
Your marketing plan is as unique and individual as your business is, but you can use these common strategies to help you make a decision:
Directed Traffic – One way to go about it is by using social media to send traffic to your blog and then writing blog posts aimed at driving traffic to your landing pages.
Integrated Messaging – Another way is to use all your content to drive specific actions (for instance enrolling in a membership site).
Focus on Sales – A wide variety of content could be used to drive sales – from blog posts to videos and podcasts.
4. Decide on Your Core Message
This is the primary benefit that you're offering to your customers. It could include your story or even a piece of advice that you share with your customers. Your core message is basically the bottom-line explanation as to why you are in business, and you should use it as a guiding principle for all the content you create.
Now that the most important decisions are made, read on to find out what your next steps should be in Part 2 of this article.