How Do I Start a Content Strategy? 10 Steps for Success
The Internet is drowning in content. Everyone is a publisher and they’ve created enough content to prove our digital world has become a very crowded place. That means you need to be creating the right content. More importantly, you need to have an approach that ensures the content you’re creating is strategic and aligns with your objectives.
If your business is ready to create content that truly “wows” and relates to your audience, it’s time to develop a content strategy. Building a plan of attack will help you avoid creating content just for the sake of creating content. The last thing you need is a series of blog posts that feels forced and insincere. Your goal should be to create content your audience needs in a way that’s authentic and relevant.
Here at Kuno, we kick off all new client engagements with an approach that helps us understand your target audience, create valuable content and develop a method for marketing that content in an effective way. These are the steps we take:
1. Buyer Discovery Interviews
Our Buyer Discovery Process is the first and most important step for new clients. It begins with a handful of interviews we conduct with business stakeholders and employees from the client company as well as a few of their buyers and customers. These conversations help us define current business objectives and get a grasp on who the client’s customers are and why they buy from them.
After completing the interviews and compiling our findings, we develop a succinct report that encapsulates the following things:
- Sentiment Analysis: This section of the report consists of insights we organize by theme with supporting quotes that help us identify buyer concerns, questions and pain points.
- Strategic Recommendations: We use the Sentiment Analysis to recommend specific marketing actions that relate to the client’s objectives.
This manual but insightful process, or your own version of it, will guide the rest of the steps toward developing your business’ content strategy.
2. Account Mission Statements
Your content mission should guide all the content you create for your business. The content mission statement includes: your target audience, what insight or type of content will be delivered and the outcome for your audience. Inc. magazine’s mission statement is a great example:
Welcome to Inc.com, the place where entrepreneurs and business owners can find useful information, advice, insights, resources and inspiration for running and growing businesses.
As a content creator, you can revisit this statement every time you create a piece of content to make sure what you’re developing aligns with your content mission by delivering the right type of content to the right audience.
3. Content Audit
Take a look at the content your team has already created. A content audit and/or content inventory will help you conduct a qualitative and quantitative analysis so you develop and share a more comprehensive assessment of your current content’s performance.
4. Content Road Map
Creating your content road map is the process of defining how you plan to tackle and deliver the core messages you created based on your Buyer Discovery Process. This consists of brainstorming the types of content you can envision (blogs, eBooks, infographics, videos and so on) as they relate to the “theme” or insights you gathered from your Sentiment Analysis. Revisit the buyer concerns, pain points and questions you uncovered to develop content ideas that address all three. Then, create a document or spreadsheet that “maps” out your content ideas by campaign, theme or business objective. Here's an example from our Content Map template:
5. Campaign Map
Similar to the Content Road Map, the Campaign Map includes all the content that will be created for each marketing campaign in a timeline organized by funnel level and promotion channel. Think of it as a campaign calendar that will give your team a holistic view of the content you need, where it falls in the campaign timeline and how you plan to promote it. Here's an example from our Campaign Map:
6. Content Guidelines or Style Guide
Establish content guidelines, or a style guide, that define the tone and voice of your content. Obviously, this will align with your brand, but someone should be able to review your style guide and have a solid grasp on who you are creating content for, why and how your brand’s voice will entice your audience. We write a lot of blogs and we rely on a set of Blogger Guidelines that we develop specifically for each and every client. The guidelines consist of:
- Description of the target audience
- List of high-level topics that appeal to each audience
- Adjectives that describe the brand’s style and tone
- Blogging traffic keywords
- List of potential sources for content ideas and support
7. Content Marketing Checklist
To make sure the content you’re creating has the right marketing strategy behind it, create a list of potential channels. With every piece of content you create, review your list to make sure you understand which pieces of content are most relevant for each channel and how you may need to revise or tweak your messaging to help the content appeal to different audiences. Our checklist consists of the main social media channels, but the list may grow or shrink depending on the client’s target audiences. The most valuable thing is ensuring the channel you choose to promote you content on is relevant to the audience at hand.
8. Editorial Calendar
Treat your editorial calendar like a to-do list that keeps your content strategy moving forward. Here you can track all the blog and social media content you need to create and promote and the campaigns they support. Your editorial calendar should include:
- Copy for social media posts and tweets
- Blog post titles
- Deadline or date for publishing
- Updates on creation status
- Calls to action
- Relevant keywords and hash tags you’d incorporate
- Campaigns associated with each piece of content
And don’t forget to share your editorial calendar! Get all of your content creators and influencers involved in contributing to and collaborating on it. If all necessary stakeholders have a comprehensive look at the timeline for campaigns and content your company is creating and sharing, they can do their part to help share content throughout their networks and the sales organization.
9. Idea Bank
In addition to all the road maps and calendars, we also have internal documents solely used for brainstorming content ideas, from blog content all the way to premium content and full-blown marketing campaigns. Our content creators and consultants collaborate on and update the idea bank often to make sure we’re generating and revisiting ideas frequently.
10. Performance Metrics
Last, define content metrics that roll up to your campaign objectives. We know analytics aren’t always fun, but it’s the only way to ensure and prove your content is giving you the desired result. And if it’s not, that’s OK, too. By developing a regular reporting process, you can get the data you need to make informed decisions about the content you need to create, test and improve.
If your marketing organization is in dire need of a content revamp, or you’re just ready to establish a documented process for developing and implementing your content strategy, we hope these 10 steps will help you get started.
Again, these are the steps we go through here at Kuno Creative to get our clients’ content strategies up and running. But we want to hear from you, too! What steps did you take to develop your content strategy? Let us know in the comments below!
Jennifer King is a Brand Journalist with Kuno Creative, where she applies her unique skills as a journalist to develop engaging content for B2B clients. Her work has appeared in authoritative online publications such as Lifehacker, Forbes and Great Place to Work. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus