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Your Content Marketing Strategy, in 7 Steps

Content marketing — it’s definitely a buzzword and though the term may be overused, the concept shouldn’t be overlooked. At the heart of it, content marketers are recognizing that the buying journey has changed, and they are responding to those changes. Prospects don’t sit back and wait for companies and brands to tell them what they need. With the onslaught of information and access these days, they will tell us what they need and when they need it.

Content marketing plays a crucial role in this shift. If our customers and prospects are researching everything independently before we even know who they are, then we need to make absolutely sure we are easy for them to find and that we are providing relevant, timely and accurate content to help them along the journey. That’s what content marketing is — creating and sharing information to retain customers; it is not taking a sales pitch or advertisement and redressing it.

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Here’s your plan, in 7 steps...

1. Listen
The best way to start any content marketing strategy is to step out of your bubble and get input from all the stakeholders. Ideally you can do this together in a conversational way that helps you…

  • Define your audience and create your personas.

  • Create goals: both qualitative and quantitative. It is important for everyone from the C-Suite to Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service to be on the same page about what you are trying to accomplish.

2. Perform an Internal Content Audit
It’s hard to move forward without knowing where you’ve been. Take the time to perform a full internal content audit to understand the topics and resources that have already been developed. Create a spreadsheet to list all existing articles, webinars, blogs etc. and rank them…

  • Still relevant

  • Can be refreshed

  • Time to retire

Review their performance to see which ones performed well and what fell flat to get a better understanding of what attracts your audience.

3. Research What the Competition is Doing
Research where your competitors are engaging with customers and what they are talking about. By reviewing what they are producing and the channels that they are having success in, you can widen your scope to make sure you don’t have any big holes in your content strategy.

4. Brainstorm
This isn’t the time to censor yourself (you can do that when you get to the plan). For now, just get all the ideas out on paper. What topics would be great to produce? Who can help with the creation? What formats will be valuable (i.e. blog, podcast, webinars, interactive landing pages, white papers etc.)?

5. Devise a Plan
Now it is time to drill down, set your priorities and determine what you can realistically accomplish. There are many ways to set up your plan; use excel, Trello, Google Calendar, etc. The format is only important in that it is easy to access and edit and that it’s a reference for plan. A super fancy presentation of your editorial calendar is worth very little if it is not an effective tool to help you implement. Make the plan realistic and executable.

(We here at Think Better are partial to the Trello Editorial Calendar to keep our team on track.)

6. Create the Content
Use your whole company to develop great content. It’s easy to feel like all of the work should just live within the marketing department. Sure, someone at your company needs to take ownership of the process, but don’t let that keep you from tapping in to all of the other great resources you have at your company, in all departments.

Get the whole team involved in brainstorming content topics. When it is time to create, if someone isn’t a confident writer but they have great expertise to share, pair them with someone who can help take that expertise and put it into a piece that will help others.

Successful content can take many forms, always ask yourself: How can the original content format be repurposed? Don’t let a webinar die at sending out the slides. Tweet the best questions, take each topic and pull it out into separate blog posts, turn a key discussion into an infographic—and the list goes on.

7. Analyze Performance
After your content marketing machine gets moving, don’t forget to analyze what is working and what isn’t. Go back to your KPIs, record them and determine what works and what needs a boost.

The key to a successful strategy is producing relevant, valuable, and accurate content for your audience. Focus on what you know and be authentic.

Suzanne McKee