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How to Develop a Content Strategy

By Maya Szydlowski Luke

Creating marketing personas will make it easier to develop content strategies and campaigns.

You’re ready to start your content marketing initiative, and that’s great. But the Influence & Co. team has a few housekeeping items you need to take care of first. 

Although you may be tempted to dive right in and start publishing as much content as possible, having a content strategy in place is crucial for long-term success. Laying a solid foundation for your content strategy will ensure that you get the highest return for the time you put into creating it.

What Is Content Marketing?

Let’s start with grasping the true meaning behind content marketing. Joe Pulizzi, speaker, author, and founder of Content Marketing Institute, defines it well:   

Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience — with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

The two biggest takeaways from that definition are “valuable content” and “drive profitable customer action.” We strongly believe in both. Our account strategists work closely with our clients to produce the highest-quality content — it’s the driving force behind our business model. We go through a knowledge extraction process with clients to create content that their target audience finds attractive and engaging. And because we know our clients’ content and business goals, we can implement effective inbound strategies and offer advice on leveraging that content to gain exposure. 

Keeping this definition top of mind will help you develop a plan and ideas for execution. As you begin building your content strategy, there are three steps you need to take to do it successfully: 

1. Define Your Objectives and Make an Outline

Ask yourself and your team, “What do we want to accomplish?” Are you trying to acquire new customers? Do you want to avoid the one-and-dones, who use your service and never interact with your brand again? Would you like to lead prospective clients to subscribe to your channel? A content strategy shouldn’t just be a document you throw on your marketing team because “everyone’s doing it.” It needs a purpose.

Quick Sprout offers a thorough process document on how to construct your content marketing plan on a spreadsheet. This is a great starting point for your team lead. Once you have a solid grasp on why you’re creating content, how your audience benefits from it, and how it can grow your business, then you can move forward. 

2. Create Personas for Deeper Understanding

Knowing who your customers are is easier said than done. Brands claim they understand who their target audience is, yet their data shows a less-than-stellar outcome. Creating personas can help define whom your brand is talking to, what motivates them, and how to create content that matches those personalities.

The best way to target those leads is to define basic categories and assign your customers to each. Throughout this process, you’ll start seeing consistencies and other key pieces of information you didn’t think were relevant before: motivations, why they chose your brand, why they should choose your brand, etc. Avoid having too many categories (no more than five or six to start), or your data will be too broad for any concrete next steps in your content creation process.

Although persona identification takes time, that information can help you build your content strategy for long-term success.

3. Distribute Your Content to the Right People 

How can you ensure the audience you’re targeting sees your content? Find out which platforms they use to talk to their peers and industry experts, which publications they read, and how they prefer to consume their content. If you don’t have a thorough understanding of where your customers are spending most of their time on the web, you’re just taking a shot in the dark. And what good is quality content if it’s buried in a place where your customers can’t see it?

Answer: It’s not good. 

As you go through your customers’ personalities and actions, be sure to analyze their Internet habits. What may seem like a treasure hunt at first will clarify what your distribution methods need to be. 

Whether you’re already developing content or you’re just now diving in, remember these tips to ensure that your content reaches your audience effectively. Taking the time to thoroughly develop your objectives, personas, and distribution strategies will set your content marketing efforts up for success.

P.S. If you enjoyed this post, you might also like “The Best Tools to Enhance Your Content Strategyby our CEO, John Hall.
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Post by Maya Szydlowski

Posted on April 22, 2014

About Maya Szydlowski Luke

Social media and the Influence & Co. blog is my happy place. My best days are spent discovering trends about coffee, health, content strategy, and fashion, 140 characters at a time. Let's connect! @MayaSLuke

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