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Are These Puzzle Pieces Missing from Your Content Strategy?

By Brianne Carlon RushMar 20, 2014

content marketing puzzle piecesMaybe you've been creating content for years and your biggest worry now is gearing up for and surviving content shock. Perhaps you are on the opposite side of the spectrum, having only dabbled in content marketing but intend to make a real go at it. Either way, there are a few things your company needs to have a firm grip on before it can develop and execute a truly successful content marketing strategy.

We’re not talking about the steps for creating a content strategy here—if you need help with that check out this post by Jennifer King. Today, we are taking an even bigger step back toward the basics of marketing. These three things may seem obvious as you read through them, but too often they are overlooked when it comes to getting eBooks and blogs out the door.

And it is totally understandable…I know I was guilty of this back when it was all about creating content for the sake of having content. But as the battle for buyers’ attention grows increasingly more difficult, I find it nearly impossible to move forward with content in any capacity if a part of the puzzle is missing.

What are these puzzle pieces? Branding, Goals and Audience.

Branding Guidelines are the Building Blocks of Your Content Foundation 

First things first: You need branding guidelines before you can even think about producing content. Start-ups aren’t the only companies that charge forward hoping to generate brand awareness with the help of content and social channels without giving much thought to the initial steps of branding. It happens more often than anyone would like to admit—even at well established companies. 

But there are necessary elements of any business that need to be agreed upon by all stakeholders before a writer can contribute a word or a designer can turn those words into a palatable piece of information. Get team members to sign off on:

  • Logo
  • Color Scheme
  • Design do’s and don’ts
  • Imagery choices
  • Brand voice and tone

Ensure all parties can talk about your brand, your products and your services in a clear, concise and consistent manner. Agree on how you will not only talk about your product, but how you will portray it to the world. Without this piece of the puzzle, your content will be confusing and your buyers will be uninterested.

Understanding Goals Guides the Direction of Your Content

There are so many reasons a company may want to create content. Perhaps you need more traffic or leads. Maybe the need stems from low brand awareness or engagement. Entering a new market could be a reason, or, many times, it is just about closing those sales.

As you identify goals, your tactics may change. If you are looking for brand awareness, you may want to concentrate on getting your CEO’s name out there using tactics like guest blogging and traditional public relation maneuvers. If you are looking for leads, it is likely you will want to focus on an extremely captivating piece of content you can distribute via owned and paid channels.

No matter the reason, it is imperative you know the goal behind creating every piece of content. Without a clear goal in mind, your content will suffer from lack of direction and generic undertones.

Analyzing Your Audience’s Wants and Needs Cannot be Overlooked

knowing your audience oboma two fernsCreating buyer personas has been a hot topic lately. Seems like everyone, from HubSpot to Eloqua and even Kuno is talking about them. And for good reason. You need to understand how your audience members think and talk—and especially what they care about—before you can create content they will consume. (Hint: It’s all about pain points, people!)

Even President Barack Obama knows how important understanding the audience is to the message (something he and his team have always been pretty good at). He knew he needed to get young people on his side to make his healthcare plan work. So he enlisted the help of Zach Galifianakis and appeared on Funny or Die’s Between Two Ferns. Why? Because after research and analysis, he knew this is where he could efficiently deliver his message in a manner his target audience would embrace. And it worked! Healthcare.gov received a 40 percent increase in traffic 24 hours after the skit aired.

The lesson here? Understanding how your audience wants to receive its content and from where can result in major increases in KPIs.

If you are just beginning to explore the possibilities of content marketing, or you consider yourself a pro, it never hurts to go back and explore the basics. You may discover tiny pinhole problems or gaping holes in your strategy. Either way, getting these puzzle pieces in place will only contribute to a successful and rewarding endeavor.

What puzzle pieces did I miss? Share in the comment section below! 

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photo credit: Alfonsina Blyde »; Funny or Die
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The Author

Brianne Carlon Rush

After developing the Kuno Creative content marketing department and growing it by 500%, Brianne has expanded her role to help grow the inbound marketing agency in size, revenue and resources. She now focuses on sales and marketing alignment; employee recruiting, hiring and development; and communication strategies, while still dedicating time to client strategy and Kuno’s marketing efforts.
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