Content is taking over the world! At least, it's taking over Google and Google pretty much runs the world. So it is more important than ever to have a strong content campaign as a part of your digital strategy. And with so much noise out there, your content needs to stand out from the crowd. To accomplish this, you need a plan. And not just any plan. But one that actually helps you reach your goals. content marketing 

But how does one go about creating a content strategy from scratch? Let's establish from the beginning that this should not be a rushed process. It also cannot be done in a vacuum. Multiple people need to be involved in creating your strategy because multiple people will ultimately be involved in implementing your strategy. So assemble your team, and follow this five-step process to establishing a content strategy that includes all the necessary ingredients for an outstanding campaign.

1. Get to know your business "But I obviously already know my own business." This step is not just about knowing your products and services inside and out (although that is certainly necessary.) At the forefront of the campaign, everyone on the team needs to be on the same page about:

  • The ultimate goals of the campaign (Do you want to increase sales? Or just brand awareness?)
  • Your lead funnel and sales cycle (What is your current lead-to-sale conversion rate? Why are prospects dropping off?)
  • Your brand identity (Are you a professional and highly experienced service provider? Or a fun and accessible name?)
  • How you want to position your brand in the market (As helpers? As inspiring? Funny? Education?)
  • Strengths and hurdles (What makes you better than your competitors? Why would a prospect pick a competitor over you?)

A common understanding of all of these elements is going to give you direction and have an impact on the type of content you create.

2. Get to know your market ...and get to know it well. While demographic elements like age, gender, are occupation are important, you need to go deeper than that. Create audience personas that identify your market's anxieties, daily tasks and schedule, hopes and dreams, job details, and expectations. But getting to know your prospects isn't enough. You need to know how to connect with your prospects. So identify who is influencing your customers, where the influence is taking place, and what they are talking about. Are they on LinkedIn talking about Obamacare? Or on blogs trading recipes? What relationships do you need to start building in the industry to reach your customers through this content and what does that content need to be about? Lastly, take a good hard look at your competitors, the type of content they are creating, who it is reaching. If your competitor as a thorough case study library, you will probably want to focus on one as well. If your competitor is focused on blog but has no white papers, that presents an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage.

3. Take a content inventory Create a thorough list of all of the content you already have, both on your site and in a blog and offsite through published articles or interviews. But don't just log the content's existence. Look at how it has performed. Did it get many social shares? How many people read the blog? Were there any comments? Did someone contact you after reading that post? See if you can identify any trends or pieces that performed particularly well and why.

4. Decide on media types and distribution channels Based on the knowledge you have acquired on your target market and your existing content resources, pick from the following list of content types what you think your market will most respond to.

  • Articles
  • Interviews
  • White Papers
  • Case Studies
  • Videos
  • SlideShares
  • Photos
  • Infographics
  • Emails
  • Polls/Surveys
  • Contests
  • Memes/Gifs
  • eBooks
  • Podcasts
  • Webinars
  • Press Releases
  • Cartoon

The possibilities are endless for what you can create, so don't pigeon-hole yourself. Vlogs (video + blogs) can work very well for B2B businesses that have strong industry knowledge but little time to sit down and write an article. SlideShares are a great way to present information visually and everyone loves memes. Again, if you notice your competitors only producing one type of content, see if you can gain a competitive advantage with a new type. But always keep your target market in mind. If your target market is big-business CEOs, you probably don't want to go with cartoons. 5. Create a content calendar Now, take all of that data you just accumulated, and set up a schedule. Create a calendar, broken down by day that includes:

    • The title of the content piece
    • Media type
    • Distribution channel
    • Publishing dates
    • Keyword Targets
    • Goals (ex. 150 social shares, 3 conversions)

Ideally, put the content calendar in a collaborative document so everyone involved in the campaign can access and update it any time they need. Get as detailed as possible and stick to the schedule. From here you should be set to implement an effective content strategy. Do you have additional tips to help get started? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting @BFMweb.

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