Your business may already be doing a little content marketing with a blog, some social media posts, maybe even emails. But do you have an actual strategy in place? Just tasking some folks in the office with occasional writing for the blog and Facebook page in addition to their regular job duties is not enough. According to research done by the Content Marketing Institute for 2017, more companies are committing to proper implementation of a content marketing program – so you’re facing some stiff competition for your target audience’s attention!
What is Content Marketing Anyway?
To get a basic understanding of what content marketing is, let’s look at how it’s different from traditional marketing, a.k.a. product marketing, which has long been about encouraging sales by pushing out controlled sales messages to a target demographic through mediums like newspaper/magazine ads, TV, and radio. Content marketing came along with the digital age and is about creating content of value that is published on outlets such as blogs and social media that show the brand as an authority, encourages engagement and builds a relationship of trust with potential buyers.
Your Content Marketing Strategy Must-Haves
Have goals – Before you can put together a strategy, you need to set goals to determine where you want your content to go. Do you want to build traffic to your website, grow your social following, convert to sales or signups, or increase brand presence and reputation? Your goals should also include how you will work with other outreach efforts — traditional marketing, customer service, public relations and HR talent recruiting — to create integrated communications towards those same goals. Different campaigns can have different goals, but they all need to be working towards something in order to measure success. Otherwise, you are just spending a lot of time throwing content out there for no reason. Take an inventory of where you are now, write down the numbers. Then, set some numbers that are your goals, a date you would like to reach them, and chart a path to get there.
Who’s your audience – Knowing who you are directing your content to will help you create better content. You can’t just say, “Our product is for everyone.” Maybe it is, but people have different reasons for needing something. So you have to speak specifically to them about those reasons. Maybe your product is a blender and it can be used by gourmet chefs but also by moms who want to make a quick meal. There you have two audience segments. You will speak to them differently in your content marketing and post your content in different places for them to find it. Build out a detailed marketing persona for each one and you’ll have the direction you need for creating your content.
Know your channels – Different audiences will find your content in different places. The above-mentioned chefs and mommies might look at different things on the web. Moms are usually heavily involved in bookmarking images on Pinterest, while chefs might be drawn to blogs with info on the latest kitchen gadgets. Knowing what content channels your target audience is on will help you develop a strategic campaign so you don’t kill yourself trying to blanket ALL the channels, hoping they’ll see it somewhere out there.
What are your resources – Your staff and budget size will determine how much your strategy can include. If you have one or two people trying to do all of your content, you’ll be limited in how much you can produce and how far you can reach. Don’t underestimate the time and skills it takes to develop content. High-quality blogs and social media posts require experienced writers. Good photos require trained photographers. If your goals are calling for big numbers but you have one person doing all the work, you are not going to get there and you’re setting your one person up for failure. Be realistic about your resources and goals. If you want to reach big goals, budget to hire more in-house staff or an outside agency to get you there.
Have the tools to do the heavy lifting – You’ll need to set aside some budget for tools to get the job done. Just as you can’t build a house without hammers, nails, drills, etc., you can’t build content without the proper tools. Price and vet tools that help your content creators get the job done as efficiently as possible, such as content management systems, social media scheduling and listening tools, analytics tools, photo and video cameras, lighting, microphones, and editing tools. By thinking you can skimp on the budget by doing some of these things manually isn’t thinking strategically. You don’t want your content writers wasting their valuable experience by manually counting social media comments or click-throughs. That’s not the best use of their time and the skill set you are paying for.
By putting a content marketing strategy in place, you’re putting your business on the path to success by reaching your audience where they are – online!