1. Define target personasWho are you trying to engage? What problems business problems are they trying to solve? What are they searching for on your site? Beyond business problems, what are their interests? What are they talking about – in person, online, and in surveys and feedback forms? What are their digital habits – where can you reach them online? 2. Inventory existing contentWhat marketing content do you already have? Online? Offline? Can it be “chunked,” repurposed, optimized? Is any of it particularly effective in moving targets through the sales pipeline? Is any of it low in value to targets? (Feedback from sales, or from customers directly, can be very helpful in understanding the value of your existing content.) 3. Identify content gapsYou understand your targets’ problems, and how you can help solve them. You understand their broader related interests. You know what content you already have. Now it’s time to map what you have to what targets want and need, and identify types of content you’re missing – content that will help engage targets more deeply and more consistently. Digital offers the opportunity to engage targets earlier in the customer lifecycle. And digital means shareable, meaning your content can end up in front of your target even if it only reaches the target’s friends, family, or colleagues initially. So think beyond promotions and product demos, and consider building out content that taps into your organization’s unique domain knowledge or brand values to add value for targets. As any 3-year-old fan of Thomas the Tank Engine will tell you: It’s all about being useful. (E.g., Columbia Sportswear released an app giving users instructions on how to tie more than 70 kinds of knots.) (You may not see the ROI in this, but rest assured that your competitors do.)
4. Prioritize channels 5. Create editorial calendarContent marketing success is typically contingent on the regular publication of new or repurposed content. Ideally, this content will tell stories – industry-relevant stories, or company-origin stories, or product-development stories, or customer-success stories, etc. To ensure sufficient resource allocation, create an editorial calendar detailing who’s going to deliver what and when, and which channels you’ll use to deliver each content piece. Remember: Content marketing is a process, not a project.
6. Promote and socialize contentDeliver and promote your content via your chosen digital channels. Publish regularly; make sure you have the resources in place to execute your editorial calendar. Ask questions; encourage conversation about and sharing of your content. 7. Monitor and participate in conversationsIn the digital era, you’re no longer the sole author of your brand – you co-author your brand along with the marketplace. Effective content marketing requires understanding of this, and participation in the digital conversations that emerge around your brand. The keys here are responsiveness and transparency. You’ll be pilloried for things like deleting negative comments from your Facebook page – and in the digital world, word spreads fast and far. 8. Measure and revisePerhaps the biggest advantage of digital over traditional marketing channels like advertising and PR is the measurability of your efforts. Study the analytics for insight into what content pieces are working best in terms of engagement and/or conversion. Then tweak your editorial calendar to give the market more of the content that works.
8 Steps to a Smarter Content Strategy
8 Steps to a SmarterContent StrategyEric WilinskiCantaloupeContent.firstname.lastname@example.org
Content Strategy:ExecutionEncourageconversationand sharing6. Promote& socializeTake part inconversationsaround yourbrand7. Monitor&participateUse analyticsto learn whatworks, andrevise yourplanning todo more of it8. Measure& revise
Due Diligence1. Define target personas•What problems are theytrying to solve?•What are their interestsand tastes?•What do they talk aboutin person, online, and insurveys and forms•What are their digitalhabits?2. Inventory existingcontent•What marketing contentdo you already have?•Can it be “chunked,”repurposed, optimized?•Is it effective in movingtargets through the salescycle?•Is it relevant to targetpersonas?3. Identify gaps•How does your existingcontent map to whattargets want and need?•Are you missing theopportunity to engagetargets with specific typesof content?•Are you engaging targetswherever they are, acrossa range of relevantchannels?• Are you tapping into yourorganization’s uniquedomain knowledge andbrand values to addvalue for targets?
Planning4. Prioritize channels• What channels will get yourcontent in front of targets –or targets’ networks?• In-house blog• Guest blog posts• Twitter• LinkedIn• Facebook• YouTube• Google+• SlideShare• Email5. Create editorial calendar• Are you committing theresources necessary topublish new contentregularly?• Are you telling stories?• Industry-relevant stories• Company-origin stories• Customer-success stories• Who owns what?• Editorial calendar• Creative executions• Channel management
Execution6. Promote &socialize•Are you promotingyour content on keydigital channels?•Are you publishingnew contentregularly•Do you have theresources toexecute?•Are youencouragingconversation aboutand sharing of yourcontent?7. Monitor &participate•Are you listening totargets?•Are you respondingin a timely fashion?•Are you beingtransparent?•Are you beingaccountable?•Are you escalatingkey insights abouttarget needs andhow yourorganization canmeet them?8. Measure & revise•What content isworking best interms ofengagement?•What content isworking best interms ofconversion?•How can you adjustyour approach tobe more relevantand engaging?