If you worked as a business advisor and two clients came to see you, one with a business plan and one without, which one would you think had the best chance of success? Of course it would be the person with the business plan, simply because as the saying goes if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. It’s exactly the same for those who enter into content marketing without having a clear plan of action to follow. Knowing what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and what to do is an integral component of any successful content marketing strategy.
Simply by documenting what needs to be done and how you are going to do it will mean that you are more likely to follow through with your ideas. Plus, you’ll be in a much better position to tell what is working and what isn’t working for you, this allows you to understand how much you should invest in your content marketing plan based upon the return on investment you’ll receive from it. Without documentation, you’re just shooting in the dark and hoping to hit a bullseye.
Many areas are covered in a documented content marketing strategy, such as:
- Develop audience personas
- Develop sales funnel personas
- Flesh out your content plan
- Advance the story of your brand
- Decide which channels you’ll use to push out your content
- Establish your publishing schedule
Your content marketing plan can be as in depth as you want it to be. Exactly how much you document will depend on how many others you need to bring in on the plan and who you need to convince to invest in the plan. The more people involved, the more documentation you will need, to explain and convince others to take part, as well as to keep a team on task working toward your goals.
Your content marketing strategy should answer what, who, when, why and how of your entire content strategy. With a properly documented strategy you’ll be able to track your progress, determine what is working and what isn’t. You’ll be able to justify the expenditures, the time requirements and define the value of your content marketing strategy, in addition, you’ll have a mapped-out plan to follow.
Your content marketing strategy should seek to answer:
- What you goals are you hope to achieve with content marketing
- How large your audience is and who they are.
- The types of content you plan to use to reach this audience.
- How you plan to promote your content so your audience finds it
- How you define your value
- Include a SWOT analysis (answer which strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) exist in the market.
Then you need to match these answers with the sales funnel (sales cycle) of the business you’re creating the content marketing strategy for. You’ll need to know what to say, when you should say it, and in what form you’ll say it, as well as what channel you’ll say it on. It helps to define the sales process before you develop your content marketing plan, in fact I would go so far as to say that you are at a distinct disadvantage if you do not work out the sales cycle first, as ultimately the content needs to engage and push your audience along this path.
This process will enable you to turn audience members into leads and this into prospects, you can then turn prospects into customers and customers into repeat customers. Using your product funnel and your audience personas, you can then flesh out the content you need for each phase of the sales cycle. Using the sales funnel with knowledge of the buying cycle of your audience as a starting place for creating your documented content strategy makes good sense, because you’ll be able to see right away where you are lacking, it also ensures you create content for each phase.
If you can match up these aspects of content marketing with the why of your business, you’ll kick start your business onto a path you wouldn’t have thought possible.