Six Steps to a Winning Content Strategy


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To help ease the burden on busy marketers and overworked executives who don’t have time to start from scratch, we’ve put together this short guide to developing a winning content marketing plan.

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Six Steps to a Winning Content Strategy

  1. 1. Six Ste p s to a Winn ing Content Strate 6 gy
  2. 2. “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ―Benjamin Franklin
  3. 3. Since so many people know and understand Franklin’s quote, why is it that centuries after the phrase was first recorded so many organizations still do little more than pay lip service to planning? Take content marketing for instance. Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs’ B2B Content Marketing 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends–North America uncovered the alarming fact that of the 93% of B2B marketers surveyed who engage in content marketing, only 44% say that they have a well–documented strategy.1 That means that 56% of marketers are unintentionally planning to fail. Finding time to make a content marketing plan, though, can be difficult because it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day. STRATEGY 44% of B2B marketers have a documented content strategy. Percentage of B2B Marketers Who Have a Documented Content Strategy 6%  B2B marketers who have a documented content strategy are far more likely to consider themselves effective (66% vs. 11%). Unsure 49% 44% Yes  48% of smaller B2B organizations (10-99 employees) have a documented content strategy, compared with 41% of large organizations (1,000+ employees). No 2014 B2B Content Marketing Trends—North America: Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs SponSored by 6 VieW & SHare Source: 2014 B2B Content Marketing Trends - North America, Content Marketing Institute/ Marketing Profs To help ease the burden on busy marketers and overworked executives who don’t have time to start from scratch, we’ve put together this short guide to developing a winning content marketing plan.
  4. 4. 1 STEP ONE Start by Asking Yourself Three Key Questions 1 2 3 Why are we doing this? To have any chance of success, first you need define what you are trying to accomplish in the first place. Do you want to spread brand awareness? Do you want to improve SEO and increase inbound web–traffic? Do you want to increase the effectiveness of email marketing? Do you want to create warmer conversations for your business development team? Do you want to do all of the above? To be clear, this is not just a discussion for marketing. The best content marketing plans are those that have full buy–in and participation from the sales team. Are we in it for the long haul? By its nature, content marketing is something that will grow in effectiveness over time. Creating a few blog posts and putting a whitepaper up on your website is nice but will have limited long–term impact. Doing the same thing consistently over a long period of time is another story entirely. Do we have the budget to feed the machine? A good content marketing strategy requires a never–ending stream of new material. To keep that stream moving you need, planners, writers, editors, and graphic designers, as well as a team with the tactical expertise to distribute the content to all appropriate digital channels. If you aren’t willing to budget the dollars necessary to do it right, why do it?
  5. 5. “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” ―Abraham Lincoln
  6. 6. 2 STEP TWO Start Sharpening the Axe Once you have complete buy–in on goals, long–term commitment, and budget allocation—all of which should be documented and included in your plan—it’s time to get a bit more specific. Answer the following questions: 1 What is unique or different about what we are selling? [our key differentiator] 2 Who is our audience? [the people we are writing for] 3 What are their needs and frustrations? [the pain points our content needs to address] Customer service Technology Key partnerships By market By vertical By role By market By vertical By role
  7. 7. 4 5 6 How does our product or service fulfill those needs/eliminate frustrations? [the tie in] By market By vertical By role What are typically the biggest perceived barriers to a sale? [the key objections] Internal operation/solution already in place No need to change Competitor currently in place, etc Look at your answers to questions 1–5, then ask yourself, what related content themes can we focus on that will educate, inform, entertain, and otherwise pique the interest of our identified prospects and customers. [the real meat of any content strategy] At the lead stage—suspect prospect marketing qualified sales ready At the account stage—known attributes At the opportunity stage—known attributes, verbally expressed interest
  8. 8. 3 STEP THREE Keep Sharpening… Just as an axe grows dull with time, so does content. Take a fresh look at the aforementioned questions at least once a quarter so you don’t miss out on evolving trends. Question six—the actual content themes you want to cover will likely be the most difficult. Here are some suggestions for coming up with fresh themes: • Hold a brainstorming session. Include participants from other departments. Talk to your sales team. Are there any questions or concerns that come up repeatedly in conversations with prospects? Write down anything and everything. All you need is a starting point. • Pay close attention to the content being produced in industry magazines and blogs and take notes on any theme relevant to your product. • Check out what the competition is doing, and weigh if similar strategies would work for you. What areas are they missing that you could deliver? • Use social media tools to listen in on industry chatter. Follow influencers on Twitter. Join industry LinkedIn groups.
  9. 9. Still struggling with the idea of coming up with repeated fresh content? We like these quick tips, taken from marketing expert Heidi Cohen’s 5 Content Marketing Strategies to Fill Your Editorial Calendar2: Create evergreen content. Problogger’s Darren Rowse calls this pillar content. He defines it as topics that are central to your overall subject that contain solid advice you’ll link to again and again. Leverage “just–in–time” content. This is content crafted to take advantage of trending topics. They show that your organization is nimble and on top of things. Repurpose content. This content is information that you’ve used elsewhere and are refining for other platforms and needs. Curate content. At its core, curated information extends your content–offering by selecting the best content on your niche that’s available, organizing it into a structured format for easy consumption, and explaining why it’s important for your target audience. Co–create content. This content is developed with input from your community through the help of influencers and customers. The key benefit of this information is that it’s social by nature and lends itself to social sharing. Read her full post
  10. 10. 4 STEP FOUR Map Your Content to the Buying Cycle Even though on rare occasions you will have your prospects “at hello,” more often than not your first touch–point with a prospect will not result in an immediate sale. To be an effective content marketer, you must create pieces that speak to your prospects’ evolving needs. In other words, map your content to the buying cycle. As Content Marketing Institute’s Nancy Liberman wrote in Content Strategy: 4 Tips for Communicating at Every Customer Stage, “The typical sales funnel reflects the stages of engagement — from awareness and consideration to decision and purchase. The types of content that will engage customers and prospects will likely be very different at each stage of the purchase cycle—a one–size–fits–all content strategy simply won’t work.”3 The following chart highlights examples of the various types of content that should be used at each stage of the process: Sales Cycle Lead Account Opportunity Client Buying Cycle Unknown through Awareness Awareness & Demonstrated Interest Consideration Purchase Support Advocacy Renewal Appropriate Content • Press Releases • Whitepapers • Infographics • eBooks • Thought leadership articles • Blog Posts • Press Releases • Whitepapers • Infographics • eBooks • Thought leadership articles • Blog Posts • Case Studies • Demos • Product Literature • Product updates & announcements • FAQs • Newsletters • Tips & Tricks • Product updates and announcements • Webinars
  11. 11. 5 STEP FIVE Choose Your Delivery Methods B2B Content Marketing 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends–North America indicates that B2B marketers use an average of 13 different content tactics. This by no means says that you need to use all 13 to be effective. The key is finding the right mix. As with everything else marketing and sales related, that boils down to knowing as much as there is to know about your customer, including how technically savvy they are, where they spend their time online and how they like to be communicated to. Because that is not information you can easily uncover overnight, we recommend implementing a dual outbound/inbound approach that leverages multiple different types of media. • Outbound campaigns use email marketing to distribute your content to your prospect database. TACTIC USAGE B2B marketers use an average of 13 content marketing tactics. B2B Content Marketing Usage 100 (by Tactic) 87% 81%80% 80  Tactic usage has remained relatively consistent when compared with last year. 76% 76% 73% 73%  Infographics has seen the largest year-overyear increase in usage. Last year, 38% of b2b marketers were using infographics, compared with 51% this year. 68% 64% 63% 62% 60 51% Games/Gamification Print Newsletters Annual Reports 25%24% 22% 10% Virtual Conferences Licensed/Syndicated Content 25% 27% 26% Podcasts Mobile Apps Books eBooks Print Magazines Mobile Content Branded Content Tools Microsites Research Reports Infographics Webinars/Webcasts Online Presentations 30%28% White Papers Articles on Other Websites Videos Case Studies In-person Events Articles on Your Website Blogs Social Media – Other than Blogs 0 eNewsletters 20 35% 34% Digital Magazines 44% 40% % % 38 38 40 2014 B2B Content Marketing Trends—North America: Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs 9 VieW & SHare Source: 2014 B2B Content Marketing Trends - North America, Content Marketing Institute/ Marketing Profs SponSored by • Inbound campaigns use content to drive SEO and social tactics to attract “unknown” prospects that fit your buyer profile. Content that you create for your outbound efforts should be used for inbound campaigns, and content you create to drive inbound traffic should be sent out via other channels as well. As for actual media format, start broad and then narrow it down as you begin to identify which tactics resonate best in your marketplace.
  12. 12. 6 STEP SIX Create Your Editorial Calendars When it comes to creating an editorial calendar, we suggest you start broad and then narrow it down. Pick four quarterly themes. Break each theme down into three monthly topics, then break each month down from there. When possible, use the creation of smaller pieces to seed the content of larger pieces later in the month. There is no perfect, one–sized–fits–all calendar format. Play around with what works for you, but getting it on paper is a great first start. Example [Lead Stage] Content Calendar: Theme Q1–Sales & Marketing Infrastructure Date Delivery Method week1 blog 5 reasons CRM implementations fail website/social week2 blog 8 things your CRM should tell you website/social blog How to get your sales team to buy into your CRM strategy website/social week4 eGuide What the best sales organizations know about CRM that other’s don’t email/press release/ website/social week4 Feb –Marketing Automation Title week3 Jan –CRM Media press release announce release of eGuide online week1 week2 week3 week4 March –The Intersection of CRM & Marketing Automation week1 week2 week3 week4 Assigned To
  13. 13. Partner Effectively If you are looking to truly leverage the power of content marketing and don’t have the bandwidth or desire to do it internally, it is important to work with a team that is in constant conversation with the marketplace. Those conversations will create a cache of intelligence that can be leveraged across all your sales and marketing efforts. NuGrowth Solutions is that team. We bring a full sales and marketing engine— including CRM implementation and management, inside sales and relationship building, content creation and marketing automation. We have the infrastructure, the capability, the tools, the processes, and the reporting in place to run sales and marketing campaigns with the dedicated cadence necessary to be successful. As one client so aptly put it, “There are good ideas, and there are good ideas that work. The ones that work require a dedicated cadence.” The NuGrowth sales and marketing teams create and sustain that dedicated cadence so our clients can concentrate on what they do best. Call 800.966.3051 to find out more. About NuGrowth NuGrowth Solutions helps organizations grow their businesses with pace and purpose. We build and lead results–oriented, “sales as a service” business development teams and support them with exceptional lead gen marketing—utilizing our propriety territory management methodology to generate leads, build pipelines and increase sales for our clients. 4181 Arlingate Plaza, Columbus, OH 43228 (p) 800.966.3051 (f ) 614.388.5811 Copyright ©2013, NuGrowth Solutions Sources: 1 “B2B Content Marketing 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends–North America.” Content Marketing Institute/Marketing Profs, 2 Cohen, Heidi. “5 Content Marketing Strategies to Fill Your Editorial Calendar.” Liberman, Nancy. “Content Strategy: 4 Tips for Communicating at Every Customer Stage.” Content Marketing Institute. 3