Content marketing is all about the creation of good content that attracts and engages with a target group; it is about communicating with customers without the sales pitch.
At the heart of this process is content strategy. Before you can even think about using amplification services such as Outbrain’s, which effectively helps promote the content you produce – you really have to know what kind of content you want to create.
You don’t want to go wildly into the online sphere creating random content that says nothing about your brand or business. At best it will be mildly distracting, at worst it will confuse and alienate the people you are creating content for – your existing and potential customer base. It’s sometimes easier said than done, but in short content strategy is the planning of how you intend to attract the right audience with interesting stories.
How to develop content strategy: ideas time
For success it is important that you break everything down to basics. Think about what you want to say, who you want to speak to and what you want to achieve from the outcome. Think like a publisher. If you always put content at the core of what you do, then you are halfway there to success. Think like your customer and create the content they want.
Formulating your content strategy
So now you understand why content strategy is important, it’s time to create your own content strategy. This is where you put away the theory of content, roll up your sleeves and dive in. It’s ideas time. The easiest way to begin formulating content strategy is to actually try and think like your target audience.
Armed with any data that you may have and competitor analysis, it is time to formulate your content plan and create an overarching strategy that will engage, inform, entertain and hopefully even wow those it is intended to. This is your brainstorming launch. Keywords, content calendars, distribution channels; all of that stuff comes later.
Brainstorming content strategy
Whether you are a major corporation or a solo business, the process of brainstorming content strategy is fundamentally the same. To get started and to get the creative juices flowing you can break it down to answering a few simple but key questions:
1. Who do I want to target?
2. Is there a specific topic or niche where we want to excel?
3. What information are my customers looking for?
4. What type of content do my customers look at?
5. How can I keep existing customers happy?
6. How can I attract new customers?
7. What do we like/dislike about competitors’ content strategy?
8. Is there anything I do not want to highlight about our brand?
9. What overall business objective do I want to achieve from my content marketing? What are our KPIs?
What do I want those I target to associate with our brand?
At the start of your content marketing brainstorming session ask these 10 questions. The answers should help paint a clear picture of what you want to achieve from your activity, who you want to target and what your target customer base is looking for in terms of information. Is it information? Is it a narrative? Is it both?
This brainstorming process is all about breaking your strategy down to a core level. It is only once you are satisfied that you have a core message and core values – a core set of content marketing principles – that you can build upon it by creating that great content and then amplifying it.
Dale Lovell is Publishing Director at Content Amp, a UK based content agency.