5 Questions To Kick Off Your Content StrategyJan 13, 2021
As the late, great entrepreneur and motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said:
“Success is 20% skills and 80% strategy. You might know how to succeed, but more importantly, what’s your plan to succeed?”
When it comes to your content strategy, it’s hard to find a phrase that rings truer than Rohn’s. Think about it. These days we are constantly fed the message that more content is better, yet most people don’t have any real reason for the masses and masses of content they are creating.
In a way, this is no real surprise, as it seems there’s always a marketing specialist proclaiming you should not go a day without creating some form of content for your audience.
And creating unfocused content without a proper strategy is more likely to end up as a total waste of time and money rather than becoming the next viral smash hit. (Google notices what gets read, so you’ll irritate them as well as the rest of your audience)
With that said, over 64% of marketers want to learn how to build a better content strategy, so here is a quick overview of what a real content strategy is and why quality almost always wins out over quantity.
What is content strategy?
While you might have people writing, designing, and creating content for you, it’s important to take the time to step back and ask yourself what content you should create, and why you are creating it.
A good content strategy is a plan that takes your overall objectives and uses your content creation as a way of achieving those goals.
For example, suppose one of the goals of your blog is to increase sales of your product. In that case, you need to think of a precise strategy that will make that happen, such as optimising funnels, improving engagement with consumers, and creating SEO optimised content to drive more organic traffic through your funnel. (I’m not a fan of funnels as they often operate in isolation from the customer journey but I can’t think of a simpler way to explain it in this instance.)
(HINT: your fundamental goal is to become trusted enough to buy from)
It’s not exactly rocket science, but it’s surprising how many people forget to do the basics.
1 - What are your goals?
When creating content (even if your site is brand new), it always helps to start with the end in mind. Ask yourself, why exactly are you creating content. What is your end goal? What do you want your content to accomplish in pursuit of your business goals?
A widespread mistake business owners make is following the crowd and creating the same content as everybody else. Just because a blog works for their business doesn’t mean it’s going to be the best content format for your audience.
Here are some things you need to keep in mind when defining your goals:
- What is the unique value you are looking to provide through your content?
- What does your vision of success look like if your strategy works?
- Outline the obstacles and opportunities you may encounter when implementing your strategy
2 - Who are you creating your content for?
Once again, there is no use in creating content that your audience won’t engage with. For example, if your business is about selling retirement plans to people aged 50+, it would be a massive waste of resources to create TikTok videos promoting your site (although that would be pretty amusing to see).
In order to create content that really hits home with your audience, you need to conduct persona and customer research and get to know the people you’re creating content for. Start off by asking yourself who your target audience is and what their needs are. Is there more than one audience, and if so, do their needs differ?
Once you start to narrow down your target audience, a lot of the decision-making process is done for you. It’s simply a matter of finding the best way to engage with them in the most cost-effective manner.
Here are a few more things to keep in mind:
- What does your audience consider valuable content?
- Are you solving any problems? If so, how can you best present your solution?
- What are your customer’s wants and needs - both known and unknown - and how will your content meet them?
- What platform does your target audience engage with most? (Social media, blog, video, podcasts.
3 - What will demonstrate your authority and trustability? Or put more plainly, why should people listen to you?
Let’s face it, you’re probably not the first person to do what you’re doing. Even so, you have to do what you can to differentiate yourself from your rivals. At the end of the day, you’re jostling for position amongst your competitors, and you need to establish yourself as a superior alternative. Think about how you can gain some serious street cred, not just spouting knowledge but backing it up with experiences and use cases. Your content strategy should become a valuable vehicle in finding uncontested market places and a critical part of your mission to seek and ideally find your own blue ocean.
You need to demonstrate your value to your audience, and the best way to do this is with great/unique content. Not only does it draw more people in, but it creates loyalty for your existing customers and assists you in obtaining referrals on a regular basis.
4 - What content should you avoid creating?
“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” [Michael Porter]
A bit of unconventional wisdom here, but it’s vital that you understand your own limitations or the limitations of your team.
This means that if you have a content team that can put together killer blog content but lacks the skill set to produce quality videos or podcasts, it’s better for everyone if you let them focus on what they’re good at.
The reason for this is because it’s almost always better to play to your strengths rather than overstretch on your weaknesses. Of course, if you feel as if your audience would respond better to visual content, you need to find a way to meet that need. It may prove beneficial to outsource the media creation to a talented freelancer (or change up your team - let’s hope this doesn’t get anybody fired lol).
5 - How will you source ongoing, valuable content ideas?
How will you source content ideas for your business? How will you ensure that these ideas align with the overall goals of your content strategy and meet the needs of your audience?
Without a doubt, the most challenging part of this entire process is content ideation - and unfortunately, it’s the most important aspect of the process too.
Your content ideas will play a significant role in your content strategy’s success, which is why you need to have a clear plan in place for coming up with new ideas. Fortunately, there are many tools out there to help you on your way, such as BuzzSumo, AnswerThePublic, and Feedly. It also helps to have a rigorous and objective metric in place that helps you decide whether each idea serves your strategy’s overall goals.
Lastly, remember that developing and implementing a good content strategy is a significant investment - it requires reflection, planning, organisation, and imagination. So make the time to clarify the “why” behind each piece of content you create.
Your audience will thank you for it, and the investment will show up in your results.