4 Steps to a Content Strategy that Drives Demand
Hint: Spray & Pray Is Not The Key To Success
I saw a post from an influencer on LinkedIn that irked me–it recommended a “spray and pray” approach with content. The theory is if you create tons of content, with little or no strategy, and get it out there all over, something will “work.”
Statistically, you will get some engagement and gather some data to help you make insightful decisions. But I would not define that as “working.”
Good content creates measurable results. Results such as capturing leads, increasing sales, increasing word of mouth and referrals–or whatever your goals may be.
If you want your content to achieve an actual R.O.I., you need a content strategy.
I’ve been doing some form of content strategy for 20+ years–so I’ll give you 4 quick tips so you can start the process, and start getting results. This is certainly not meant to be a complete guidebook toward content strategy but, hopefully is a good starter guide.
We’ll keep it simple!
1. Create a Content Mission Statement
This one thing helps you and your team put a value on content and defines a clear path and direction. Without it, your content is a ship without a rudder. Ideally, your content mission statement stems from a foundational brand strategy–the overall purpose of your company.
Your content mission statement can be educational focused–such as “Our content establishes us as a thought leader,” or it could be more about the feeling you want people to associate with your content, such as “Our content helps people see us as human and kind.”
2. Create Content Themes
This is my favorite part of developing content strategies for clients, or for my own startups and businesses. Content themes are ways to bucket, or categorize, thematic types of content.
The way I typically approach these is to first do as much analytical review (SEO keywords, conversion path of content, top pages, top content, etc.) as possible, and start to segment top performing content by its intent.
- Identify the intent of the content: Is it FAQ/support content? Is it content designed simply to attract attention? Is it content meant to educate about a product specifics?
- Re-assess your analytics by intent: You’ll start seeing clear patterns for your top-performing content.
- Map these segmentations to measurable goals: These include your OKRs (objectives and key results) for your company.
- Align up to your content mission statement: Ensure your themes complement your content mission statement.
Now, you can determine which segmentations are the most valuable, and craft content themes. I like to use Venn diagrams, since themes can overlap a bit:
Here’s an example:
These content themes were created by my consultancy for a B2B product (SaaS) company and used with their permission.
In the content theme example above, the goals were to build awareness of the brand for new customers, to support current customers when they had product questions, and to spark discovery of ways to use the product. Defining these three themes, and segmenting content to ensure each piece of content addressed one of these goals, was a big task, but it helped ensure all content delivered results.
Your themes help you prioritize new content, and they reduce superfluous content
Once you have content themes, you’ll use these to prioritize and filter content creation. If the content does not filter up to one of these themes, it won’t meet your defined goals. It’s just content for content sake, and that doesn’t do much except create more work.
Instead of willy-nilly anything-goes content, you’re building an intelligent content base that serves strategic goals. This is also a very useful tool for editorial teams to push back on superfluous content requests. <–this one thing has made many a writer and editor very happy. 🙂
3. Decide on Your Channels/Publishing Platforms
Content themes help you craft content with quantifiable goals. They also help you determine ideal places to publish your content.
Bear in mind that each content theme is independent of the format and channel. In other words, each theme may have different formats of content (image, video, text, etc.), and each theme can have content that goes on many channels (Instagram, website, email, billboards, kiosks, etc.)
Determining your content placement strategy can be a month-long, or more, process, but you can start small and just focus on a few key mantras:
- Not all channels are right for your brand: A B2B product company focusing on million-dollar enterprise deals might not need to be on Instagram. A makeup company focusing on millennials likely needs to be. Understand your audience, and where they “hang out” offline and online.
- Different channels require different content: Respect the medium. Dolly Parton’s social media meme is a funny illustration showing how the same person can behave very differently on various social platforms. That means you’ll want to publish and engage with your audience in a different way on each channel.
- Different times of day work for each channel: Tuesday mornings might be the best day to send an email, but Friday nights may be the best time to post memes on Instagram. You’ll want to dive into your analytics more to see what works best for each channel.
4. Build an Editorial Calendar
Before anyone starts writing, I recommend creating a year-long editorial calendar. These can get overwhelming, so I always suggest starting small at first.
Some of the things I recommend putting on an initial calendar include:
- Key holidays and seasonal events: That could include events such as the Super Bowl, or Valentine’s Day depending on your industry.
- Industry events and conferences: Make note of the top industry events that impact your key audiences–it could be investors, customers, or partner events.
- Marketing launches and promotions: Ensure your whole team is aware of major campaigns or advertising launches.
These are foundational elements for an editorial calendar, but they help you understand contextual influences for your audience, and they help ensure your editorial team taps into relevant and timely events.
Once you have these key dates, your editorial team can start writing content to address these factors. A good rule of thumb is to ensure a variety of content that address your content themes and key calendar dates.
Hope this helps and is a good start for building content that works for you, rather than creates more work! What are your thoughts on building a content strategy? Have you found better results after doing so? Please let me know in the comments below!