As a business owner, one of the first marketing challenges you will encounter is how to effectively separate yourself from your competitors and show the world what you bring to the table. In the digital realm, it’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it, when and where. This is why outlining and developing a strong content strategy as soon as possible will not only help focus your objectives and solidify your brand’s voice, but also afford you with a consistent image across all marketing channels. So whether you are looking to boost your website, social media page, marketing campaign, or promoting your latest product launch, here are four really easy steps to sharpen your content strategy.
Know What You Want (How to Begin)
The first step in implementing a good content strategy is to understand what this is all for. Sure, everywhere you turn someone is touting the benefits of content marketing, but content with no purpose just for the sake of content won’t cut it. In order to get started on the right foot, you must have a clear idea of who and what you are and what your main purpose is for implementing a strategy. Oh, and simply driving traffic to a website isn’t a goal. That’s what everyone wants and it’s still too broad. Real goals go something like “increase brand visibility by producing posts and articles”, “raise awareness about our services and products through blogging and ads”, “sustain brand voice and identity by adhering to a particular style or tone”, “educating the public about useful new trends in your industry with video and podcasts” or “change brand perceptions through questions and regular engagement”. These are real, specific goals that are all in line with the overall goals of your business (i.e. to get your name out there, grow your brand, engage consumers, etc.) and when your strategy aligns with and supports goals for the greater good of the company, you know you’re on the right track to clarifying your message.
Know Your Users (Who to Target)
Ever had a conversation with someone and you had absolutely no clue (or interest) regarding what he or she is saying? Well, a lot of content producers are guilty of the aforementioned “content for the sake of content” violation and doing so will waste you both time and money. In order to provide good, quality content and have people give a damn about what you are saying, you must understand whom you are writing to. Content mills and SEO farms are so busy chasing rankings that they forget that on the receiving end of their articles are busy people with interests, desires, fears and questions. Part of your job when implementing an effective content strategy is to make sure that all of your content hits each of those things in order to keep them coming back for more. In this step, research who follows and likes you. Who are they? What do they care about? What do they think of you? How do they receive content (articles, blogs, social media, video, infographics, etc.) and what kinds of content do they like the best and respond to the most? By understanding whom you’d like to target with your content, you’re already halfway through to a new and improved strategy.
Know Your Content (What to Say)
The next step is to understand how to develop content that is in line with the first two steps as well as your overall business goals. If you already have existing content for your campaign, social media page or website, now is the time to perform a content audit and see what works and what didn’t. What type of content received the most views/engagement? Did people respond more when it was professional in tone or most conversational and humorous? What topics seemed to resonate with viewers the most? By answering these questions and understanding who you are writing for, you can now develop a solid content plan. Also, keep in mind that different groups require a different voice. Content that is written for millenials and content that is written for medical professionals clearly should not sound the same. That’s why all content must tailored in tone and style to suit who it was written for. Once your content is being produced, don’t let it fall by the wayside. Stay up to date on topics that are relevant to your content, find out what people are talking about, research keywords and remember to mix things up a bit because even the best content gets stale if it always stays the same.
Know Your Method of Attack (Where to Distribute It)
Now that your content is written researched and ready to go, the final step in your killer content strategy is deciding where to distribute it. Sometimes distributing articled on your website and linking to social media is the best course of action. Other times, sharing video and graphics on social media will work best. Again, evaluate what channels seemed to get the most hits. Maybe distributing content in a monthly newsletter works best or perhaps email marketing coupled with downloadable resources will make the most impact. Regardless of how you choose to distribute content, this final step also includes cultivating a content calendar. Doing so will give your content a set pattern in how and where it is distributed and how often it is maintained. It will also keep your readers on a scheduled routine that keeps you at the forefront of their mind. Also, no matter how precise your content calendar, it is just as important to allow room for posting timely pieces of content that are about current or relevant breaking news topics that pertain to your business or industry.
If you are one of the 52% of businesses in the United States who have yet to develop a documented content strategy, the time to act is now. By following these four steps and outlining your goals and a plan of action, you will be able to begin seeing a real difference in how people respond and engage with your business.