The saying “throw mud at the wall and see if it sticks” is rarely used in a positive context. But when you invest in content marketing without a documented strategy, this is exactly what you’re doing. You churn out a bunch of articles and haphazardly promote them, then cross your fingers and hope something goes viral. Doesn’t exactly sound like a recipe for success, does it?
Many people who are skeptical of the need for a content marketing strategy think the time it takes to develop a strategy would be better spent actually producing articles and whitepapers. This could be why only 35 percent of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy. After all, who wants to spend time and money documenting a plan when you could be creating content?
Unfortunately, undervaluing the strategy phase is a huge — and costly — mistake.
Documented content marketing strategies cover all of your goals and initiatives. They include clear plans for tracking and assessing results and promoting your work. By outlining your target audience, potential article topics, goals, publication placements, and scaling strategies up front, you’ll shave hours off the content creation process and dive in with a distinct purpose.
Here’s what investing in fleshed-out content strategy will return for you:
Content marketing can be costly, but it’s crucial to your business’s long-term growth. By allocating a portion of your content budget for strategy, you’ll have a baseline for determining which methods work and which don’t. That way, you can continually refine your strategy and make sure your investment is paying off.
Let’s say you have a content marketing budget of $250,000 a year. That covers salaries, agencies, freelancers, software, distribution, and other associated costs. A quarter of a million dollars is a lot of money to spend without knowing exactly what you want to accomplish. If you take $25,000 of that budget and put it toward strategy costs, you minimize the chance that your investment will be wasted on incoherent and ineffective content initiatives.
When you launch a campaign without clearly defined goals and processes, you risk publishing content that’s off-message and counterproductive. And with so many hands involved in content creation and distribution, having a documented strategy is the only way to keep everyone working toward the same goals.
Great content falls through the cracks without clearly outlined processes for creating and promoting it. If no one knows who’s responsible for what, content creation and promotion end up getting buried under other tasks, wasting time, money, and energy. A solid strategy spells out your writing, editing, final approval, distribution, and promotion processes so there’s no confusion or inefficiency.
Companies with documented content marketing strategies are more successful and better at tracking ROI than companies that don’t. When we started Influence & Co., we were generating leads and traffic, but we didn’t have a good system in place for tracking content. After six months of missing internal deadlines and losing valuable pieces of content because of poor processes, we started documenting our strategy and saw huge improvements. We’re now more efficient at leveraging content in our sales process and creating timely content — for our company and our clients.
Without a detailed strategy and system for measuring metrics, you have no reference point for judging the effectiveness of your content. And in this situation, marketers often end up dismissing the value of content and miss out on significant brand visibility and profits.
Your content strategy should be tailored to the size of your organization and your objectives. You have to get specific about your processes and goals if you want to see results. Spend time on this step because it will pay off in the long run.
A clear, unified purpose is the most important component of your content strategy, and these questions will help you define that:
If your content marketing initiatives are draining your resources or you’ve simply hit a profitability wall, a documented strategy will always help you get on the correct course. Don’t wait three or six months to realize your content marketing efforts aren’t working. Invest in a content strategy today, and you’ll reap the benefits as you go.