Content Strategy for Your Business in 7 Steps
In today’s fast-paced marketing landscape, successful campaigns share one quality in common: They all start with an effective content strategy.
The right content development plan and schedule will help you consistently create high-quality content that regularly meets business goals—regardless of the size of your team or the level of resources at your disposal.
A good content strategy begins by considering how three critical factors overlap:
- Your audience.
- The audience’s pain points.
- How your product or service offers a solution to those pain points.
Your product should be positioned as the solution your audience is looking for, but good content is about much more than selling yourself. Remember, the most efficient content creators are those who figure out what their audience wants first and foremost—and then deliver it.
Here are 7 steps to building a winning content strategy for your business.
Step #1: What Makes You the Expert?
To develop content that provides maximum value and an authentic user experience, you must first be an authority on the topics you’re addressing. Otherwise, your prospects might wonder, “What makes you the expert? Why should I trust you?”
You should be able to answer those questions confidently before starting your content strategy. Your content calendar, whether you build your own or start with a content strategy template, only provides half of the equation—the other half is you.
Content strategy is a philosophy. Sure, developing deliverables on a consistent schedule and hitting conversions and other important performance benchmarks matters. But there’s also something beyond the number of blogs, pillar pages, and case studies you produced in any given period that affects how effective you are at growing your audience-brand relationship. It’s the essence of your brand identity and what uniquely positions you to solve your audience’s pain points. This essence should be at the core of every piece of content you produce.
Your content calendar is the tactical approach. It’s where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. This will be your roadmap for preparing, creating, editing, designing, and distributing your content to various digital or non-digital channels. You can either build this from scratch or use a content strategy template to help get you started.
Step #2: Start by Building Your Foundation
A good starting point for your content strategy is to identify your major cornerstone content—pieces that will deliver the most value to your potential customers. In other words, what are the pieces that will create so much value that they are direct indicators that someone is ready to buy? What are the pieces that your audience would seek out even if they were gated or paywalled?
Begin by focusing your strategy on these pieces. Make sure they are high value enough that the target audience would be willing to pay for the advice within them.
Some examples of these foundational pieces include:
- White papers
- Pillar pages
- Video deep dives
- Other long-form content
Don’t include content like case studies (these are about someone else) or blogs, which are designed to be skimmed, hit major points, and send people on their way. Blogs and other supporting content should be reverse-engineered to connect buyers to these gated pieces, ultimately convincing them to become customers.
Step #3: Think about the Supporting Content
What are the pieces that will be best able to support your high-value foundational content?
For instance, you might create a pillar page covering a broad topic like, “What Is a Content Strategy?” Blogs can then be written going into each facet of that topic, strategically targeting keyword phrases your customers are likely to type into Google to answer their questions, linking them back to the pillar page.
Keep in mind to always drive people back toward your in-depth content to move them effectively down the sales funnel.
Step #4: Place Your Content within the Audience-Relationship Status
As marketers, we’re used to talking about the buyer’s journey and stages—but this framework exists for the content creator.
When was the last time you heard your audience say something like, “I’m in the discovery stage of my buyer’s journey?” or “I’m in the middle of the sales funnel?” Most likely, the answer is never. That’s because your audience doesn’t think in these terms.
For your audience, what matters is their relationship with the brand.
A brand lives in the hearts and minds of the audience. What drives them to act is what they think and feel about your brand.
At this stage of building your content strategy, you should determine where each piece of content fits into the stages of this relationship status.
Sometimes the key indicators of best relationships are formed when you don’t put up arbitrary walls that cut you off from your audience. An honest relationship between a brand and its audience is a discovery process that happens mutually between the two, with open communication, like a free-flowing river.
Step #5: Build Your Tactical Structure
No matter how you visualize your content strategy, it must have a clear and actionable structure. At Content Workshop, we like to use the concept of a “content solar system.”
With this model, think of the sun as a performance goal you’re trying to achieve, or an action you’re trying to get the audience to take, such as trying a free demo or becoming a marketing qualified lead (MQL).
Depending on how close or far someone is in their buyer’s journey to taking this action, the content can orbit at different distances.
Those high-value foundational pieces you fleshed out in step 2 above are the “planets,” with those closest to the sun—your performance goal—targeting buyers who are ready to make a decision, whereas outer-orbit planets are for those still in the discovery phase.
The “moons” orbiting these high-value foundational pieces are the supporting pieces discussed in step 3—especially content like blogs, which are meant to drive organic traffic.
Some people will be “comets,” who may become an MQL without following any set pattern (or “orbit”) leading to a conversion. While this isn’t what you should expect in most cases, some customers will be ready sooner to make a connection and forge that all-important relationship with your brand.
Make sure your content strategy accounts for prospects at every stage of their buyer’s journey.
Learn more about the content solar system here.
Step #6: Build a Narrative Thread Throughout
When building out your tactical content structure, consider how to best craft a story throughout the relationship between your audience and your brand, which will uncover the gaps that need to be filled with content.
Shuttling a potential customer along the buyer’s journey can be challenging—like moving from planet “evaluation” to planet “intent”—but sometimes a buyer arrives ready to purchase. Don’t adhere so strictly to the model that you put up unnecessary barriers for motivated buyers. If they want to go straight to the sun, get them to the sun. It can be jarring going from planet 4 to 3 and it is a hard step, or you don’t want to put up barriers for someone to go from zero to hero. If they want to go to the sun, get them to the sun.
An effective strategy develops a memorable narrative for potential buyers. They’ll remember the content that introduced your solution to their problem. They’ll think of the details you shared in blogs and white papers when comparing alternative solutions. And they’ll carry on your story as a loyal customer when they invest in your your product to resolve their pain points.
Step #7: Check Your Resources—and Use a Content Strategy Template
As you finalize your content strategy, now is the perfect time to reaffirm the resources at your disposal for achieving your content goals. Can you meet the goals you’ve set for yourself, and if so, what is a realistic timeline for completion based on the resources at hand?
The work it takes to go from a blank content calendar to consistently deploying quality content that performs is, to say the least, a lot for any team to handle. Many businesses underestimate the level of time and resources they’ll need to dedicate to this process on top of their other daily tasks.
Although a content strategy template can give you a head start and a roadmap to achieving your content goals, you may find that you need additional help putting your strategy into practice. Content Workshop understands these challenges and loves helping businesses like yours achieve their content goals.
We know what it takes to build and execute a winning content strategy to meet the performance outcomes your business deserves. Contact us here and let us help you achieve the perfect content strategy so you can get more conversions and grow your brand.
Content Workshop is a group of content marketing professionals dedicated to helping our business partners grow organic leads and conversions and achieve other important business and marketing benchmarks. It all begins with an effective content strategy. Want to learn more about how we can help? Connect with us through a chatbot on the lower righthand corner of any page on our website.