Like every other process of strategizing, a good content strategy requires remarkable insights, foresight, and every kind of sight, really, from genuinely gifted people. I promise I’m not just saying this because I'm a content strategist, but because it’s the truth. Before I jump into the main biz, I should probably tell you what a content strategy is…
What Is a Content Strategy?
It’s six months to the launch of your startup. You have the investors convinced, your goals set, your team is taking shape, and your marketing plans are underway. There’s a slight hitch in your plans though; your SAAS product cannot be marketed traditionally because it belongs to a unique niche—like providing digital infrastructure for the metaverse. Enter, content strategy.
Content strategy is the intentional use of content to achieve specified marketing and business goals. Content, in its most basic form, is the substance of a thing. Digital content isn’t so different; content produced by a business (B2B or B2C) is meant to describe elements of the company in a way that answers the needs of a prospective customer. Essentially, a content strategy helps businesses communicate with different categories of content consumers. A good content strategy is the vehicle for creative marketing.
Why Do I need a Content Strategy?
This one’s easy. To prove and maintain relevance! Whether you run a startup or an established enterprise, consumers tend to believe the guy with a track record of being knowledgeable. A good content strategy incorporates thought-leadership plans for the company and its employees (everyone from the C-suite execs to the intern). My company—The Content Advocates— does this quite brilliantly if I do say so myself.
Sidebar. Allow me to blow your mind with this example. Google, arguably the most famous company globally (it ranks #1 for website traffic on Similarweb), uses a smart but fundamental approach to content marketing. You see, Google runs a free search engine that receives billions of search queries a day.
Everyone who performs searches on Google is looking for something. Google has developed a high-performance AI engine that caters to the search needs of its consumers, thereby ensuring that its consumer base just keeps growing. Who wouldn’t want to take advantage of such a high-intent repository of consumers? And that’s how Google makes big bucks - from all the businesses seeking to be found by millions of searchers!
Alphabet, Google’s parent company, generates 80% of its revenue from Google ads using this content strategy; giving consumers access to high-quality content for free. In 2020, Google ads generated 146.92 billion dollars. Take a moment to think about it.
Creating a Disruptive Content Strategy
A good content strategy facilitates the achievement of goals. When executed with finesse, it ensures your brand stands out. How do you create a disruptive content strategy? Let’s find out!
1. Take an Inventory Of Your Assets and Outlets
What man builds a house without first counting the cost, right? Your first step should be to take stock of what you have; website(s), social media accounts, blog, newsletter, emails, etc. You must be aware of everything and everywhere that content can be posted; owned media, earned media, and paid. In this step, you’ll also assign the content you already have to the media channels best suited for them.
2. Determine Your Goals
You’re in it to win it, I know, but what objectives will measure your win? More sales? Leads? Blog visits? App downloads? User subscriptions? Whatever you’re trying to accomplish, you should have SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals to help you on your way. Your marketing KPIs (key performance indices) can be repurposed into suitable content strategy objectives; that way, you have all your goals streamlined.
3. Define and Target the Right Audience
Every piece of content you put out should be directed at a somewhat predictable group of people. These people are your audience. To begin, create an audience persona. Be very detailed. In addition to being fun, it will provide a framework to help you develop future content that addresses the needs of real people. You can build as many personas as needed for your strategy.
Next, conduct an in-depth analysis of your audience. To really understand their behavior, use platforms like Sparktoro, Quora, and Reddit. Get a spreadsheet and detail your findings under categories like demographics, relevant social media channels, online habits, problems, current solutions they use, etc.
Remember, your content doesn’t have to be just articles. You should do what works for your audience (podcast, infographics, animated videos, etc).
For example, let’s assume you’re trying to get sales upped for your customer relationship management software. You could use content that addresses the needs of your target audience at the several stages of the buyer’s journey: awareness, consideration, and purchase.
The topics for the top of your sales funnel could look something like this:
- What is CRM? - this could be an article, video, podcast, or whatever works for you.
- Do you need a CRM for content marketing?
Consideration level topics:
- Top 10 CRM software in 2021 (with your software as #1)
- Free CRM vs. paid CRM software; pros and cons
- Example-company CRM software: Why you should get on board
- The only CRM software you’ll ever need; an in-depth review
4. Prepare A Content Plan
A content plan is a structure that details how a content marketing campaign will be run. Content strategies could be part of a larger content plan or vice versa.
When planning your content, you should do the following:
- Outline a problem statement.
- Create a composite content calendar.
- Itemize the teams and resources (in-house and outhouse) you’d need to collaborate with (designers, devs, etc.).
- Map out your content amplification channels.
- Share your plan with other teams to gain helpful feedback.
5. Establish Thought Leadership
This is one aspect that many content strategies do not account for. Establishing employees (usually the C-suite execs) as thought leaders and subject matter experts. When done correctly, it helps put the company in a good light in the public’s eyes.
Thought leadership is something that shouldn’t be outsourced. Try to get your in-house writers to create powerful and exciting articles on behalf of your executives. These articles should be distributed on Linkedin and niche-specific forums. Quora is another great place to establish subject matter expertise. Company executives should be encouraged to answer relevant questions in industry-related spaces on Quora.
Webinars, seminars, case studies, and AMA sessions (ask me anything) are also avenues to establish subject matter expertise.
A content strategy is like a chess strategy. It takes into account the contrary circumstances that may arise along the way and proffers solutions to them. In this article, I’ve highlighted key areas to consider to enable you to develop a winning content strategy.
Alas, without a content strategist (the magician with all the insight!), you may be unable to plan for unforeseen circumstances, adequately. Nevertheless, you’ll surely excel if you put the bright minds on your team together.
Remember, a content strategy is the beating heart and thriving soul of a company’s marketing efforts. You’ll do well to treat it as such!