A Guide to the Basics of a Successful Content Strategy
Content marketing is a basic necessity for a business to stay afloat in the current climate. No matter what product or service you provide, there are customers to be found online and on social media platforms. Whether your online presence is limited to a Facebook page or if you make use of every platform you can, it’s always a good idea to consider or reconsider your content strategy.
What is a Content Strategy?
Marketing your business through the content you create and publish online is a pretty great concept. You use the content you put out into the world to attract, engage, and retain customers. But have you ever thought about how all those individual content posts come together as a whole?
The content strategy takes a step back to look at the bigger picture. How is that content managed? How could it be more effective, efficient, and consistent? A singular piece of your content doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It should reinforce, and be reinforced by, a well-thought-out strategy.
Content creation is a crucial part of growing your business. But it isn’t just about creating content and putting it out there. What, when, and how you post should be specific, holistic, and systematic. When it comes down to it, digital marketing is all about strategy.
What You Need to Know
Before you tackle an overhaul of your content strategy, there are some concepts and priorities that need to be established. Here is what you need to know about developing a content strategy.
First of all, you need to know the target audience (or audiences) your content is meant to engage. Who are you trying to reach? Why do they need your product or service? Why should they look to you to provide it? These target audiences are your buyer personas.
Before you start investing time, energy, and money into creating content, you should have a good answer to these questions. Those answers should be informed by market research.
B2B Vs. B2C
This is another consideration in how you pursue your business goals. In the simplest terms, this refers to business-to-business marketing vs. business-to-consumer marketing. Are you selling your product or service to an individual consumer or a professional representative?
While there is plenty of overlap between these approaches, there are important distinctions, too. Your content should reflect those distinctions. This is part of your persona research; business isn’t a person, it’s an organization. That means a different context, a different vocabulary, a different tone, a different set of needs and concerns.
The Sales Funnel
The “sales funnel” is a metaphor for your relationship with the customer, describing the different phases of that relationship’s evolution. Every interaction between your business and a customer (or potential customer) relates to a phase of this funnel. This is true whether someone is just becoming aware of you, considering your product or service, or raving to colleagues about their positive experience with your business.
Your content strategy needs to take this into account. Different types of content apply to different phases of the sales funnel. While some of your content marketing efforts will work toward lead generation, other pieces of content should work toward converting leads to customers or encouraging customer loyalty.
What Sets You Apart
Whatever you do, you probably have some competition in the game. What sets you apart? This is another angle to consider in your content strategy. Why and how are you uniquely qualified to serve your customers?
Is it your expertise in the field? Your values? Your many satisfied customers? The strength of your team? Whatever the case you’re making, demonstrate it in your content.
Formats and Channels
Ok, so, you’ve considered all of the above. You know who exactly you’re targeting, what’s important to them, and what they need to know about your business. It’s time to consider the different formats and platforms for your content.
Ideally, your strategy involves a diverse range of content delivery systems. This means blog posts, videos, social media, and more. Content and form should be in harmony – a blog isn’t the same as a Facebook post, or a Tweet, or a Youtube video, etc.
When using social media, your content should be tailor-made for its respective channels of publication. In other words, you need to become literate in the different ways that social media spaces present information. Then you can plan, budget, and create your content accordingly.
This is also true when it comes to publishing content on channels you own. Make sure your website and blog play to the unique strengths, functions, and conventions of those channels. Each piece of content should be created in consideration of how the information is presented and where it’s presented.
Last but not least, there’s the question of managing all this content. There has to be some oversight to ensure quality, consistency, and efficient use of time and resources. A strong content marketing strategy requires structure.
This means a content calendar, a well-coordinated content team, and a content management system. There are plenty of options for software that can publish your content on a set schedule and help you gauge what’s working.
Developing a Content Marketing Strategy
Now that you know the basics, here is a brief step-by-step guide to developing a content marketing strategy that works for your business.
1. Create Marketing Personas
Do some research into who you’re targeting. Outline what challenges they face, what problems they need solving, and what questions they may need answering. Take the time to map out how your business can anticipate, accommodate, and assuage these concerns.
Your audience isn’t just some unknowable mystery on the other end of the funnel. It’s made up of people with a particular set of needs. The more information you have about demographics, circumstances, and preferences, the more relevant your content will be.
2. Review Your Existing Content
Perform a content audit of your marketing thus far. This will help you determine what can be improved or updated. Make sure your content is aligned with your goals as much as possible.
3. Set Up a Content Management System that Works for You
Determine how you’re going to manage your content, and have that system ready to go. Explore some software options to see what looks like a good fit. We use a combination of WordPress and HubSpot, and we are a HubSpot Partner Agency.
4. Brainstorm Topics
Come up with relevant, useful, engaging topics for content creation. Anything that can promote brand awareness is worth exploring. Consider your personas, the different stages of the sales funnel, and what will make your content unique. Do some research for information/inspiration.
5. Turn Those Topics Into Content and Start Publishing
Figure out which topics will work best with the various formats and platforms at your disposal. You can use the same topics in different ways, though your content calendar should space these out to appropriately reflect a fresh cycle of content.
Write some blog posts, case studies, and social media posts out of your list of topics. If you’re not a strong writer, delegate to someone on your team who is. Or you can rely on an experienced marketing agency to write, publish, and manage your content for you!
Grow Your Business With a Well-Developed Content Strategy
Make sure you’re getting the most out of your approach to content marketing. If all those posts don’t add up to a unified strategy, then you could be doing better. If you’re interested in exploring what a marketing agency can offer your content strategy, reach out to Heartbrain Marketing for a free consultation! Developing a developed content strategy is well within your reach.
Content Writer and Editor
mac at heartbrainmarketing dot com