Have you ever had a nightmare where you wandered in the desert for days choking on sand and gasping for water, but try as you might, you never seem to get off the same dune you’ve been endlessly trudging up? A scene from A Far Place? When you’re covering your channels in content without a comprehensive content strategy in place, you’re bringing that dry nightmare to life. Content strategy is your oasis.
Piece together a blueprint, and suddenly you’ve given yourself the gift of direction. Here’s how to quench marketing thirst with content strategy in six easy steps.
1. Stick Out Like a Sore Thumb
Who are you?
What is your differentiator? Your content strategy is built on a foundation of personality. Every blog, social media post, white paper, video and infographic has to exude the key characteristics that make you you.
- Why should consumers choose you over the competition?
- What are your brand’s best qualities?
- What can you offer that no one else can?
- What are you absolutely not?
If you’re having trouble boiling down your brainstorming into a coherent bit of brand identity, follow the leaders. Disney is the “Happiest Place on Earth.” Kentucky Fried Chicken is “Finger Lickin’ Good.” Burger King says you can “Have it your way.” Wheaties is the “Breakfast of Champions.”
Each slogan was chosen to epitomize what that brand feels sets it apart from crowd — happiness, irresistible grub, customization and a cereal for winners, respectively.
So, decide who you are and let that let shine unapologetically bright.
2. Go on Record with Your Goals
A great content strategy delivers killer ROI, but you can’t understand what you’re getting in return for your investment if you don’t measure results. And those results don’t have meaning unless you have a clear-cut goal.
Sometimes, you have to think backward, and smart marketing often starts with a target before slowly building the content crossbow eventually used to hit the bull’s-eye. Do you want customers? Do you want to increase conversion percentages? Maybe you want to sell more of a certain product or increase your visibility with an untapped demographic.
More From Meghan: 7 Companies That Have Great Content for Every Stage of the Funnel
3. Stalk Your Target Demographic
Once you know who you are and what you’re trying to accomplish, you need to understand the group of consumers who are going to help you reach the next step. Here’s where we flip everything on its head. Yes, it’s normal to wonder what we need from customers or how much we can make, but your content strategy will be far more productive if you swap out the “we we” for a lot of “yous”.
- What can our brand do for you?
- What do you need from a company in [fill in the industry]?
- If you read our blog every day, what would you hope to find?
That you is your target demographic, and it’s time you got to know them. Climbing out of your own bum and positioning your brand as the solution for your consumers’ problems is the magic wand of marketing. Go wave it (the wand, not your bum).
4. Create Quality Content
It breaks my heart when I see an otherwise strong brand send out subpar content.
When you build a website and join social media platforms, your online content becomes an extension of (and in some cases a replacement for) your brick-and-mortar business. Keywords and titles are your customer service, drawing people in. Subheaders are your aisle endcaps, snagging peoples as they stroll (or scroll) by. Organization matters. Color is essential. Quality is crucial.
Please, hire a skilled writer and opt for quality over quantity. Studies have repeatedly shown that more frequent blogging drives inbound traffic up exponentially, but if those blogs suck, all you have is a bigger audience for your showcase of shame.
It’s not enough to just build a #content strategy; it has to be customer-centric for it to be successful.
5. Be the Droid They’re Looking For
While you’re hard at work writing content that doesn’t suck, always return to the you we were hammering home before. What does your core audience want to read? The answer may not be quite what you think.
Say you have an eco-friendly carpet cleaning company. Clearly, you should create content that talks about the benefits of a clean carpet and why some soap chemicals are bad, but that’s only a starting point. Consider your ideal consumer as a holistic being rather than limiting your perception of them to their interactions with you. Someone who’s interested in your business probably also reads about organic recipes, all-natural beauty products, animal rescue fundraisers and green living upgrades for old homes. Create content answering those questions, add in long-tail keywords and eye-catching visuals, publish and promote strategically and watch new customers come to you.
6. Nurture, Nourish and Never Give Up
Speaking of publishing and promoting. . .
If you share a link to your new blog on Facebook and nobody sees it, did your post really happen? If you cover the same topic four blogs in a row, is your brand really about anything else? If you take a passive approach to promotion, will your audience ever find you? (“Only Zuckerberg knows,” you might think, but the answer is, “Probably not.”)
To get the biggest bang for your content buck, you need three things:
- An editorial calendar to organize your topics and publishing schedule
- Some budget for paid social promotion
- A network of channels you can use to cross-promote the heck out of every new piece of collateral
Go. Find your audience where they live. Show them why you matter. Success awaits.