The 7-Step Plan for Creating a Content Marketing Strategy

When you’re trying to sell more product, memberships, event tickets, or something else, it’s tempting to jump right into tactics. But, throwing money into an unproven strategy isn’t ideal. That’s why, whenever you start a new campaign either annually or to launch a new product or effort, it’s critical to go through a process that builds a strategy based on data.

This is the 7-step method I use to build strategies. It can be time and labor-intensive, but each step provides an important piece of the puzzle.

  1. Research. Who are your audiences? Step one is to identify them. Step two is to get to know them. Sit down and map out all the potential audiences you need to target. Some will be categorized as primary and some as secondary. Having data about your specific audience is critical to build a foundation for an effective strategy and can be used down the road to determine the message. This can be accomplished in many ways:
    • Primary Research: Speak directly to a diverse set of customers to determine their needs, challenges and likes/dislikes about your current or potential offering. You can also listen in on customer service calls to hear the challenges your customers or members face.
    • Secondary Research: Evaluate current customer data such as purchases (amount, frequency, timing) or brand loyalty (how long have they been a customer).
    • Secondary Research: Find out what you don’t know through a survey. If you can’t talk to customers directly or need to cover a large quantity of people, deploying a survey is great. Budget friendly options like Survey Monkey can make it easy to conduct and gather data
  2. Build Audience Personas. Walk in your audience members’ shoes. Once you have the “stats” on your audiences as a whole, focus on one or two typical audience members in each group and draft a persona. Focus on them as a human and not just a number. This will help you create a value proposition and message that speaks to their real challenges.
  3. Define Your Value Proposition. Now that you know what your audience is thinking, where the pain points are and what they need to succeed, you can craft a value proposition that is based on fact and not just on your organization’s perception of what the market needs.
  4. Identify Measurable Business Goals. Tying your strategy to reasonable, achievable and measurable business goals is critical. If you’re trying to raise brand awareness among new audiences, get more members or attendees, sell more products, improve customer retention; write goals that focus on incremental growth.
  5. Study Tactics and Identity those that will Work Best. The past decade has seen a constant evolution of marketing tactics. Since the industry is not standing still, it’s important to evaluate the latest tactics and understand how they could apply to your customers as they move through the buyer’s journey. Content marketing tactics are not one size fits all. It’s important to align tactics to the goals where they will be most beneficial. For example, e-newsletters are not prospecting tools, but are clear winners when it comes to maintaining connections and engaging with current customers.
  6. Establish a Budget. You’ll always have more tactics you’d like to try than money to spend (if not, let’s talk!). Prioritize the tactics that will reach the proverbial “low hanging fruit” first and plan additional phases of marketing growth over time. It will also be easier to get budget approved if you’re basing it on sound customer research and an understanding of current tactics.
  7. Create a Timeline, Editorial Calendars and a Messaging Blueprint. The best way to stay on task and integrate your marketing message among all departments within the organization is to write it down. A broad timeline will outline all of the tactics and focus the marketing efforts as the year goes on and other activities come up. Similarly, editorial calendars ease the pressure associated with maintaining blogs or e-newsletters by documenting and planning topics to cover. Finally, a messaging blueprint puts everyone in the organization on the same page in terms of the messages to deliver and the language, tone and style in which to communicate.
  8. BONUS STEP- Test! If you have the resource or opportunity, test elements of your strategy to see if it works before unleashing the full campaign. Use focus groups or other methods to generate results to review.

Expect this 7-step process to take several months to complete. Rushed strategies are less effective that those that thoughtfully look at each step. In addition, it can be hugely beneficial to engage an outside support throughout the process or to complete individual steps. They can help keep the process on track and moving forward as well as have specific expertise in research, tactics or other areas.

Contact glee to learn how we can support your strategic planning by either walking you through this 7-step process or working with you on specific areas such as identifying tactics or creating editorial calendars and messaging blueprints!

 

Photo by David Travis on Unsplash

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