When developing your content marketing strategy there are a couple of things to know. First you should probably know the differences between: content marketing strategy, content strategy, and a content plan. While most people will use them interchangeably, there are actually a number of differences. Here are how we define the following:
Content marketing strategy:
Remember when your high school English teacher would simply write “why” on your paper – and to your utter frustration you didn’t know what she meant? Well, your content marketing strategy is answering the why portion of your plan.
Why are you creating content, who benefits from this content, and how are you relieving their pain points differently than other people. In addition to building an audience, you also want to convert them into leads or returning customers.
The differences between a content marketing strategy and a content strategy may seem negligible at first, but content strategy is broader in scope. Content strategy aims to help your business manage all of the content you have, including the creation, publication, and administration of usable content.
While the first two are quite broad in their approach, your content plan is more specific. How will you execute your strategy and who is handling each task. You can’t build a content plan before you build a content marketing strategy, so look at this as the last step in your overall structure.
Do I Need A Content Marketing Strategy?
Even if you are a personal blogger, we still think that having a content marketing strategy is a great idea. When you utilize content marketing you are much more effective, less likely to go without content, are less challenged with the various aspects of marketing, and are able to focus more time on other marketing avenues.
1. Create a Calendar:
Let’s keep it simple and direct. Develop a routine you know you are going to follow. This begins by creating an editorial calendar that is complete with the following information:
- Publishing dates
- The purpose of each post
While your calendar may include more or even less than ours, it is a good idea to establish a habit that both you and your readers can follow.
2. Tools to Use:
There are tons of different options to get you started. While some are paid, there are also a bunch of free options as well. Outside of Excel – which we only use from time to time, you can use both of the following free tools.
Within WordPress we use the “Editorial Calendar” by Colin Vernon, Justin Evans, and others. It’s a great option for when you are scheduling your posts ahead of time. Just pick the date, pick the time, and click schedule. Pretty easy and simple to figure out no matter what your experience is.
When you’re looking to collaborate with your co-workers, give Google Sheets a try. It is essentially Excel, but without all of the bells and whistles – which is fine with us considering Excel is overly complicated.
3. Don’t Get Lost in the Weeds:
Generating on-brand topics is going to be a tough battle. Sometimes you are going to want to randomly discuss things on your mind (wait a second, I think we are doing that now), but you have to make sure they’re on-brand (okay, we are in the clear). Having enough topics, making sure you don’t repeat the same topics too often, and keeping your topics relevant for potential readers (buyers/clients) is hard. Make it easier on yourself by doing the following:
- Focus on keywords and personas:
- Your buyer personas need to have keywords associated with them. Those keywords will help you stay relevant in the never ending journey to find your ideal client.
- Build titles, not outlines:
- This goes against everything that my 8th grade English teacher Ms. Hedimark attempted to drill in my brain, but I am saying it anyways – don’t focus on outlines. When you solely focus on the details, you lose the ability to focus on generating ideas.
- Brainstorm like nobody’s business:
- If I sat in one meeting trying to brainstorm for ideas, I wouldn’t come up with a single thing. Or maybe I would, but it sounds boring. Rather, you and your staff should log ideas as they come to you. Even this random musings segment came to me when I was vacuuming.
- Branch out:
- One of the best ways to keep your content fresh is by reaching out to guest bloggers or changing up the medium of your posts (videos, written, infographics).
- Schedule ahead:
- I can’t tell you how many times I messed this section up when I first started working in marketing. I didn’t keep a calendar and it backfired big time. Something would come up and I wouldn’t have any content for a week or two. Don’t come up short, schedule ahead.
4. Stay Flexible:
This is a fairly big one to keep in mind while you are staying consistent with your content marketing. It is your job to generate relevant and totally awesome content. It is also your job to be flexible in case something comes up. Sometimes the market shifts drastically in our field, so you have to be able to adapt when the time comes. Always tweak your topics, or change your research if the market is pushing you in a new direction.
5. Set Deadlines:
Lastly, if you find yourself constantly up against it, you need to set deadlines. Give yourself wiggle room as well. Set your deadlines a couple of days in advance so you can make revisions if need be. This gives you breathing room in case of unexpected projects, illnesses, or, in the case of 2017, random hurricanes.