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Beginning Steps for a Content Strategy

I remember back in 2011 when Hubspot was a “smaller” less known company, I attended my first inbound marketing webinar and heard, “content is king”. Little did I know, four years later, that statement would hold even more value in today’s digital world?

It’s safe to say that today’s digital world is flooded with content, both good and bad. In the last four years we have seen businesses in almost every industry, different shapes and sizes, jump head first into digital marketing with no real strategy. Again, this has worked out both good and bad for various companies.

So why is it, four years after the big digital boom that we still have a lot of companies failing to capitalize on their digital marketing efforts?

The answer is simple. They aren’t giving their online customers value. Most companies don’t have a strategic content plan in place. Although the answer is simple, working towards a solution and actually putting together a strong content strategy takes time, dedication, and effort.

I’m a firm believers that any company who wants to boost their online presence and start seeing valuable ROI will benefit immensely from a content strategy. Having a plan in place is a lot more than just “posting to a blog” and putting it out on your social channels. You have to be precise, thorough, and strategic for a content strategy to truly work. Let’s dive in…

First, let’s define what content marketing means. It’s safe to note, this is what content marketing is to me. If you ask 10 different marketers what the “their” definition of content marketing is, you will get 10 different answers.

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is the creation and sharing of media and publishing of content in order to acquire and retain customers. Content marketing should strive to create valuable and consistent content pieces to benefit a targeted online audience.

So now that we have a better understanding of what content marketing is, let’s look at a few different ways on how to start implementing a strategy.

Ask yourself, what value do you bring your clients? What makes you unique? And most of all, what makes people trust your brand or product?

Identify Your Audience

Publishing content just to “publish” it will do nothing for you. You have to be specific and identify your target audience. One great way to do this is to identify the “personas” of your readers.

Ask yourself, who are you speaking to? Executives, young professionals, industry experts? Once you identify a list of personas you will be speaking to, this will help you tailor your content to these specific audiences. The more niche you can get, the more engagement you will see.

Listed below are some good “key steps” to take when creating your reader personas.

  • Who is he or she?
  • What is their job title?
  • What industry are you speaking to?
  • What kind of company do they ideally work for?
  • If you were to guess; what kind of content do they already read/receive?

Now let’s take it a step further and dig a little deeper into our reader’s personas. Afterall, we are creating quality content for a reason right? We want it to ultimately convert. We want our readers to take action when it’s all said and done. So let’s pin-point some things within our reader personas that we will believe will make our readers take action.

  • What challenges do our readers face?
  • What problems can we help our readers solve?
  • What will our readers relate to from our content?
  • Can we influence our readers to “make a decision?
  • Can we build trust within our reader that we can “help them” with their problem?

The goal with your content should always be to help your readers (once identified) solve a problem. We need to address our reader’s needs. If we take the time to create our reader personas and try to identify their needs, we will come right out the gate creating high quality content.

Building Trust through our Content

Building trust is critical if we are going to keep and retain a strong online audience. People follow brands, buy from companies, and do business with people they trust. Trust has been the fundamental centerpiece to good business relationships for hundreds of years. So right now, ask yourself, why should somebody trust your company?

Basic reasons why people should trust your company.

  • You have a proven track record.
  • You provide sensational customer service.
  • You have a high quality product or service.
  • You have customer testimonials to back you up.
  • You have been in business for “x” amount of years.

Now let’s list some basic reasons why people should trust your content.

  • You have solidified yourself as an industry thought leader
  • You verify and create credibility for your product, business, or service via your content.
  • You listen and address your readers needs
  • You help your readers solve problems

When you strive to add value in every piece of content you publish, you are building trust with your readers. There are no “get rich quick” schemes when it comes to content marketing. You have to put an effective plan and strategy in place.

The initial steps to putting together a content strategy is always the hardest, but it’s also the most valuable. Once you have a strong plan in place, creating content starts to become more of a rewarding routine than a burden.

The benefits of a creating great quality content for your business can’t be understated. Content marketing will help your SEO, social media, and ultimately, will elevate and position your brand as an industry expert.

For help creating your first draft to your new content strategy, check out Copybloggers 13 Steps to Creating a Content Strategy.