How to develop an effective content strategy
Nowadays we are producing more content than ever. Google something and you see tons of results appear to choose from. It’s amazing that technology allows us to have so much knowledge just a click away. But for marketers it’s becoming harder and harder to stand out in this content chaos. Simply producing more content won’t cut it. More isn’t always better, nor is it particularly effective. To make your efforts worth their while you need to ground your work with a content strategy. In this article I will explain how to develop a simple and effective content strategy.
Let’s start with a solid foundation for your content strategy by exploring the Golden Circle of Simon Sinek. If you’re curious about the Golden Circle, watch this video where Simon Sinek explains the idea behind it:
The Golden Circle consists of three elements: the ‘Why’, ‘How’ and ‘What’. By defining these elements you will be able to lay out a strong basis for a successful content strategy. In the video Simon explains the Golden Circle by using Apple as an example:
- Why: We challenge the status quo and think differently
- How: We make beautifully designed products that are easy to use
- What: We just happen to make great products
The ‘Why’ is the main starting point and the key ingredient, because it sets apart the general marketing messages we have been conditioned to see for decades. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. By answering the ‘Why’ you will define the reason(s) why you are doing something and those reasons are important. To create more effective content, you need to be smart about your strategy. Once you have answered the ‘Why’, ‘How’ and ‘What’ for your company you can start defining the rest of the content strategy. Your content strategy should contain the following elements:
- Business goals
- Brand personality
- Persona research
- Content audit
- Types of content you want to create
- Content distribution plan and channels
- Content calendar
1. Define your business goals
Why do you need a content strategy and what do you want to accomplish with it? Pick one main goal for your content strategy to focus on, for example lead generation or brand awareness. Define this goal as SMART as possible. It’s important to know your goals before creating content. People are already overwhelmed by all of the content online. A defined goal prevents you from creating random content that further crowds an already noisy online marketplace. Be more strategic and you will produce better content than your competition does.
2. Formulate your brand personality
3. Conduct persona research
Who do you want to create content for? Who are your buyers? A successful content plan needs a defined target audience - also known as your buyer persona. By creating relevant and valuable content for a specific group of people you’ll have a bigger chance of conversion. Make your personas as realistic as possible by defining an average person to represent a certain target audience. Think of their age, name, personality, pains and frustrations etc.
4. Run a content audit
If you’ve already started with creating content, then a content audit is a good idea. Revisit all of your current content. See if you for instance can budle your old articles into an ebook. That way you can explore different content formats. Next to that, you need to analyse your previous content efforts and see what works and what not. Formulate the learnings and see what you can do differently in the content plan you are creating for the upcoming year.
5. Determine which types of content you want to create
Take a look at your goal and research what kind of content fits best to accomplish it. For example, you might want to generate leads therefore you need to educate people about your product or service. A good way to do so can be a blog section on your website, ebooks, whitepapers, how-to videos etc. Write down what kind of content fits your goals, what format and what resources you need to produce it.
6. Create a distribution plan and define your channels
You don’t have to be present on every channel the world has to offer. Look into channel statistics to see if your target audience is present. With these general channels statistics you will be able to create a different approach for each channel. For example LinkedIn is in need of a more business oriented content strategy, while Instagram can focus on the more informal side by showing what’s behind the scenes.
7. Develop a content calendar
To organise the content and align your team with the new strategy, a content calendar is required. Before you start developing your content calendar keep the the following in mind:
- Include all channels you want to post on
- Decide what your calendar needs to track, for example the status of the posts or the performance
- Create a content library for your assets
- Establish a workflow for your team
There are lots of useful tools you can use to create a content calendar like Google Sheets, Excel, Hubspot, Later.com etc.