You are not alone. Like everyone else, you want to get your content marketing strategy off to a great start. You want an astonishing, awe-inspiring launch, with social media ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ by the thousands. You want to leave your competitors begging for mercy; desperately trying to cling to whatever market share you haven’t managed to rip from their grasp.
But, like everyone else, you’re not sure where or how to begin. You do know you want to maximise your chance of content marketing success, while minimising risks, unwanted surprises and costs.
The best way to achieve all your content marketing goals: a well researched, detailed content marketing strategy.
How to Come Up With a Content Marketing Strategy
The easiest way to come up with a content marketing strategy is to hire an expert.
Failing this, there are a few simple steps that you can follow to come up with a content marketing strategy all on your own.
Step One: Define your audience
It is much easier to design an effective content marketing program for a specific audience.
So, define exactly whom it is that you want to reach with your content marketing strategy. Do you want to target existing customers, promoting a new product or service offering? Are you desperate to reach similar customers in a new city? Or do want to secure completely different customers in the same city?
Whatever the case may be, make sure that your market segments are precise. You simply cannot target everyone. You cannot be everything to everyone. You have to narrow the field. If this step is proving challenging, try working through a SWOT analysis (stay tuned – there will be more on this in the coming weeks!).
Step Two: Work out what your audience needs
The most wonderful thing about digital marketing is the wealth of information available.
Google has a whole host of free tools that you can use to determine exactly what it is that your audience needs. You can use Google’s Adwords Keyword Planner to figure out what keywords and phrases your audience are plugging into Google when searching for products and services, just like yours. Once you have those keywords, you can design whole content marketing strategies around them. You can incorporate them into blog posts. You can make sure they’re included on every one of your website page. The remarkable result of all this: improved SEO and higher search engine rankings for your website.
Apart from Google’s free tools, there is a plethora of free, almost-free, and not-actually-free-but-totally-worth-the-cost social media monitoring tools out there.
These tools can scan, scour and summarise all the millions of social media conversations taking place every day. There is HootSuite and TweetReach and Klout and TweetDeck, just to name a few. Each particular software package has its benefits and drawbacks, so make sure you do your due diligence before deciding to run with one.
With the results gleaned by these social media monitoring tools, you can determine the most important topics to focus on in your content marketing program.
Step Three: Take stock
If you’re a small business owner, trying to manage a long-term content marketing strategy while also running a successful business, this can be the most important step of all.
Work out what content you already have. Do you have articles that you wrote for newsletters five years ago? Did you write a couple of papers and file them away in a deep, dark filing cabinet? Is the content up-to-date and high-calibre? Does it educate, inform or entertain? Does it stop short of the ‘hard sell’?
If you answered ‘yes’ to the majority of those questions, you might already have content ready to go. You might need to tweak it, or give it a bit of a polish, but it can definitely go into your content marketing strategy.
Step Four: Get it down on paper
Set yourself up with an easy-to-use spread sheet. That spread sheet should have, at a minimum, the following column headings:
- Title: name of the document or the article or the paper
- Source: URL or hard drive or filing cabinet or dusty box in back of wardrobe
- Document type: web page, PDF, word or excel document (allows you to determine if you need to reformat the content)
- Score: choosing a scoring system that makes the most sense to you. Industry experts seem to go with R.O.T. (Redundant, Outdated, or Tired). You might prefer P.O.R. (Publish, OK, or Rubbish) or even a good old five point rating scale (Excellent, Very Good, Good, Average, Poor).
- Message: the main message or theme of the piece of content
- Call to Action: is there something that you want the reader to do as a result of reading the piece content in question? Do you want them to sign up to your newsletter? Or download a free e-book? Or call you to request a quote?
- Notes: for anything else that doesn’t slot neatly into any of the other categories
For each existing piece of content, complete all the fields above.
Once complete, this is your content inventory. From your content inventory, you should be able to pinpoint what content you’ve got already, what content you can leverage, what gaps you need to fill and what investments you need to make.
Armed with this all knowledge, you should be ready to create a strategy for the ongoing creation, maintenance, and governance of a highly successful content marketing program.
P.S. You’re also not alone if you’re wondering what a photo of purple flowers has to do with creating a content marketing strategy. After scouring the inter-web for inspiring images somehow related to content marketing, we came up empty-handed. So, rather that fill your social media feeds and inbox with boring stock images featuring wooden models dressed as corporate suits, wordly has decided to opt for images that put a smile on our face instead. Images that inspire. Images that are beautiful. Images that make us happy. We hope they make you smile too.