A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Content Marketing Strategy

If your online business is struggling to embrace content marketing or if you want to revamp your company’s current marketing strategy, this is the guide for you. The nature of online marketing right now is centered around content, content and more content.

Marketing expert and New York Times bestseller, Jay Baer, gives this sound insight: “Big companies are embracing big content, and in so doing they are changing the expectations of YOUR customers.” Baer’s right: everyone is connected in online business. One company can change the entire nature of marketing for everyone else. Currently, that shift is leaning towards powerful and shareable content, although it has been leaning that way for some time now.

To get your content marketing strategy heading in the right direction, we’ve created this step-by-step guide. Every strategy will be different, but following these guidelines will help you to cover your bases.

Define Your Objectives

If you don’t know where you want to go, you will have a difficult time knowing how to get there; just ask Alice from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Clearly defining your objectives gives your content marketing strategy its necessary direction.

Pinning down what those objectives are requires you to ask yourself some questions. Why are you wanting to do this campaign? What is your end goal? What do you hope to accomplish? Perhaps you want to create an identity for your company that resonates with your audience. Design your content then to promote that image. Or maybe your main goal is to generate more leads and increase customer conversion. Once you know the direction you want to head in, you can start making plans and actions to get there.

Write a Creative Brief

Your creative brief will be the game plan to reach your objectives. A creative brief is a document generally used between a designer or creative team and their client to set expectations and layout a detailed plan of action. This brief is shared among all team members and clients with the purpose of having everyone on the same page.

Ideally, your content marketing strategy should follow the same formula as a creative brief. In essence, you will be writing a creative brief of your own. Along with your main objectives, here’s what else to include in your creative brief:

  • Background Summary

This first section is where you explain your purpose and drive as a company. Include a business vision, or a condensed version of your mission statement as an overarching theme to your marketing projects.

  • Project Goals

Narrow down your objectives to your top three goals to focus on. Clearly specify your goals and answer the following questions: what is going to be done to meet these goals? Based on who you are as a business, why are you the people to accomplish these goals? What do you have to offer?

  • Audience

Write down who the intended audience is. This is one of the key components of quality content creation and distribution. You’ll see more conversion if you take the time to identify your target audience.

  • Competitors

Who is the competition you are going up against? Find something that differentiates you from them, a unique selling point that they don’t offer.

  • Tone

Every piece of content has a voice. Some voices are witty, some are professional or informative, while others are optimistic and empathetic. You need to decide which voice best fits your brand and resonates with your targeted audience.

  • Format

Content can come in many different forms, such as written in an article, filmed on a set or presented through visual experience on your website. Be overly specific about how you want the content to be, such as determining article or video length so it matches again with your brand, audience and platform of distribution.

  • Editorial Calendar

Create a timeline for when certain pieces of content are to be completed and by whom. The calendar should also include when the content is to be distributed or promoted and on what platforms. This calendar can, and probably will be frequently updated. It is a crucial element for keeping team members and clients accountable. Everyone on the content marketing team knows who will complete what assignments and by when. This accountability is one of the best benefits of your creative brief.

  • Progress Metrics

Keeping in line with accountability, this section lays out how you will measure out your progress. This could be through a certain number of pageviews, leads generated, number of sales, etc. Pick your metrics based on what best projects progress towards your projected goals.

  • Any Miscellaneous Items

Include smaller details here, such as more nitpicky items of what to include in the content and what to leave out.

For more information on how to write a creative brief in relation with your marketing strategy, check out this article as a resource to bridge any gap between content production and the business of marketing.

Content Tips

After making your creative brief, you’re ready to move on to actual content creation and promotion. Make sure that you promise quality content to your audience, or they won’t want to engage with it. If you make that promise, though, you have to live up to it. All your content should be content that matters, and not just fluff. Think about content that resonates with you and create a similar caliber of content for your audience.

Include a CTA

A common mistake among content is a lack of a call-to-action (CTA). If content doesn’t have a CTA, what’s the point of your strategy other than brand awareness? Go back to your creative brief and refresh yourself on your objectives. Do you just want to bring people to your site for daily inspiration and advice? Or do you want them to follow you, receive your emails or download your ebook for real customer retention and engagement?

If a viewer is not driven to act from your content, then they will walk away from it without being changed. Don’t let that happen! Your content marketing strategy can have the potential to change your audience, if you give them that chance in the first place.

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