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Developing A Content Marketing Strategy

Content marketing strategy – content strategy, and content plan. People use these terms interchangeably (which is understandable, as the lines are somewhat blurry), but each is a bit different. 

Content marketing strategy: At its core, your content marketing strategy is your “why.” Why are you creating content, who are you helping, and how will you help them in a way no one else can. Organizations typically use content marketing to build an audience and to achieve at least one of these profitable results: increased revenue, lower costs, or better customers.

Content strategy on the other hand, delves deeper into the “creation, publication, and governance of useful, useable content.” 

In contrast to the other two, a content plan is very tactical. It documents the specifics of how you will execute your strategy, and who on your team will be handling each task. It’s important to understand that you need a content marketing strategy before you build your content plan. Think of it as a marketing plan that specifically relates to content; thus, it should include details such as the key topic areas you will cover, what content you will create, when and how to share your content, and specific calls to action you will include.

Do you really need a content marketing strategy? Yes! As we’ve learned at Captains & Cowboys through our annual research, not only do you need a strategy, you also need to document it. Those with a documented content marketing strategy:

  • Are far more likely to consider themselves effective at content marketing.
  • Feel significantly less challenged with every aspect of content marketing. 
  • Generally consider themselves effective in their use of all content marketing tactics and social media channels. 
  • Able to justify spending a higher percentage of their marketing budget on content marketing.  
What should my content marketing strategy include? Think of a content marketing strategy as an outline of your key business and customer needs, plus a detailed plan for how you will use content to address them. While no definitive “templates” for building a content marketing strategy – each one will be unique to the business that creates it – however there are five components that they usually include:
1. Your business reasons for innovating with content marketing – by communicating your reasons for creating content, the risks involved, and your vision of what success will look like, you are much more likely to gain executive support for your strategy – and to get permission to make a mistake here and there as you figure out what works best for your business.
2. Your business plan for content marketing: this should cover the goals you have for your content program, the unique value you are looking to provide through your content, and details of your business model. It also should outline the obstacles and opportunities you may encounter as you execute your plan.
3. Your audience personals and content maps: this is where you describe the specific audiences for whom you will create content, what their needs are, and what their content engagement cycle might look like. You mat also want to map out content you can deliver throughout their buyer’s journey in order to move them closer to their goals.
4. Your brand story: here, you characterize your content marketing in terms of what ideas and messages you want to communicate, how those messages differ from the competition, and how you see the landscape evolving once you have shared them with your audience.
5. Your channel plan: this should include the platforms you will use to tell your story; what your criteria, processes, and objectives are for each one; and how you will connect them so that they create a cohesive brand conversation.
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