If you’ve been keeping up with marketing trends, you’ve probably heard more and more about content marketing over the last year. Believe it or not though, the idea that “Content is King” goes way back to 1996 when it was first outlined in a speech by Bill Gates. And while many things have changed in the nearly 20 years since, the one thing that remains the same is the importance of creating quality content.
Content is key to an overall marketing strategy for a number of reasons – it can increase site visits, time spent on a site, and conversions. Many companies are now adopting “inbound marketing” strategies that rely on content creation and promotion that ultimately drives revenue.
To develop great content, you have to have a well thought out content strategy that addresses three big questions:
- Who are you?
- Who do you want to talk to?
- How will you execute the strategy?
The answers to these basic questions will serve as an outline for creating a content strategy that not only engages, but also communicates with your audience effectively and drives them to take action.
Know Who You Are
You can’t put together a great content strategy without understanding your own brand. If you have trouble succinctly explaining your brand attributes and how they inform your communications, you’ll need to take a step back to engage in some branding exercises before diving into content strategy creation. Ultimately the content that you produce, be it website copy, blog posts or ads, all tell the story of your brand.
When you’ve got clear brand guidelines in place, you’re ready to build a content strategy. Some things to keep in mind:
- Refer back to your messaging statement to be certain that your content reflects who you are as an organization
- Be consistent in the tone and voice of your communications
- Ask yourself, “If my brand were a person, would he say this?”
Know Who You Want To Talk To
Identifying your audience and understanding what they want to hear is a key element of a successful content strategy. You’ll want to conduct thorough user research to know exactly who you are trying to reach and what types of communications will resonate with them. Even if you have done research in the past, it’s always good to get fresh data as audiences and their needs can change. When you have completed your research, use the collected data to build personas for whom you can craft targeted communications. As you’re identifying your audience, you’ll want to think about:
- Using website analytics learn more about your audience and what resonates with them
- Reviewing your competitors to see how they are communicating with your audience
- Exploring new audiences to increase your market share
Know Your Execution Plan
The final piece of your content strategy is an outline detailing how you’re going to make it all happen. Creating an execution plan that brings together a messaging strategy that reflects your brand and an outreach strategy that targets your audience will ensure a smooth workflow and optimal results from your content. Your execution plan should include:
- Strategies for each media outlet you use – social media, blogs, website, search engine marketing, online advertising, mobile
- A workflow or approval process to ensure that content is vetted by appropriate stakeholders before it is published
- An editorial calendar that outlines a publishing schedule for your content
Taking the time to put together a content strategy for your marketing communications will help ensure that you are delivering the right message at the right time to the right person. A successful strategy takes into account your brand, your audience, and your plan for delivering useful content that ultimately helps you meet your organizational goals.