Guess What? You Need a Content Strategy

How’s your content marketing panning out for you?

Do you have a strategy in place, or are you just flinging your stuff into the ether and hoping it’ll make an impact?

Too many people think that a blog post here or there will cut it. Maybe they’ll lengthen their posts a little to stretch beyond the 500-word mark. Maybe they’ll start sharing to their Facebook page a little more often (let’s say twice a week instead of once in a Blue Moon)

Here’s what you should know:

Your content is probably fine. It’s your strategy that bites the big one.

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Here’s are some fun facts for you:

  • 62% of the most successful content marketers have a documented strategy vs. 16% of the least successful.

  • 72% of content marketers who increased their level of success over the past year credit their strategy as a major contributor.

How much more convincing do you really need?

A solid content marketing strategy can offer you insights into making smarter, more successful tactical decisions. There’s nothing that brightens up a content marketers day quite like the ability to plan, manage, and execute the right steps every day.

How Do You Set Up Your Content Marketing Strategy?

It’s up to you to define what your core business and customer needs are. Your content strategy should address these needs.

Answering a few key questions will help to set you on the right path:

  • What is your purpose? 
    You need to figure out why your content exists and what you hope your audience will do once they’ve taken a peek at it. Their actions should always provide some value for your business, so make sure you align your expectations accordingly.

  • Can you define our audience persona and buyer journey? 
    Which one audience will benefit the most from your content? You need to figure out what their current user state is and how their personal needs and goals could evolve in the near future.

  • What is your unique editorial mission? 
    Take a step back and look at your brand’s unique perspectives. You need to discover what differentiates your approach from that of your competitors. Find your voice.

How to Define Your Purpose

Simply put, you need to know what you’re going to achieve with your content. Different types of content are suited to different things. You need to figure out where you’re going in order to discover the best way to get there.

Here are some key things your business could be struggling with:

  • Brand awareness: 
    Are you trying to drum up awareness of your service/product to penetrate a new market? Or are you aiming to launch a new product or compete with a market leading competitor?

  • Audience engagement: 
    Are you trying to set yourself up as a thought leader or reliable source of information? Do you need to find influencers (or micro-influencers) to spread the word about your brand?

  • Website traffic: 
    Are you dealing with a high bounce rate? Do visitors to your website just not stick around? Do you need content that will push them to the CTA you’re hoping for?

  • Lead generation/nurturing: 
    Do you need help qualifying your leads? Are you struggling to get your current leads to move down your sales funnel?

  • Increasing your marketing ROI: 
    Are your marketing costs too high with no decent results for your efforts? Are you trying to find ways to open up new revenue streams or increase your current sales targets?

  • Customer retention and loyalty: 
    Is your churn rate way too high? Do you need to find better ways to get your customers to stick around? Are you struggling to find a way to upsell your services to existing low spenders?

How to Set Realistic Goals

Once you’ve ironed out the purpose of your content, you can start looking at setting yourself some realistic goals:

  • Sales goals 
    Develop mixed media content that will support specific marketing campaigns or sales-driven goals

  • Cost-savings goals 
    Create content that will increase the cost efficiency of your marketing activities across the board.

  • Business growth goals 
    Develop content that helps in generating new revenue streams or creating new product lines.

How to Identify and Understand Your Target Audience

While every business hopes its content has universal appeal, content marketing typically works best when it is targeted to serve one audience above all others. When you publish broad-reaching content that aims to be all things to all people, it never gets specific enough to provide much value to anybody.

You Need to Align Your Sales and Marketing Strategy

Sales and marketing alignment is vital for organizational success, and not just for boosting morale.

According to The Payoffs of Improved Sales & Marketing Alignment, US businesses lose $1 trillion a year.

This is due to wasted productivity because of misaligned sales and marketing strategies. Glad we're not those guys, right?

For your business, that could mean as much as 60 percent weaker financial performance.

It could also mean a 58 percent reduction in customer retention, among other negative factors.

It's not all uncomfortable news, though.

When teams work together via seamless sales and marketing plans, they are unstoppable.

Solving Common Problems with Inbound Marketing

f there’s anything marketers have in common, it’s the goal to find methods to generate more highly-targeted leads. After all, this is the way to boost your revenue and expand your business. But how do you get there?

It requires a strategy that’s effective, measurable, and scalable. To date, there’s nothing that meets these criteria better than inbound marketing. What’s great about the inbound methodology is that it enables you to attract qualified prospects and convert them into leads using foundational content that is delivered through blogs, eBooks, email, automation, social media and other digital tools and content.

Simple Steps to Find Your Brand Voice

If someone saw your content on a different channel, or without your logo attached, would they know that it came from your brand? Without careful planning, you could end up with content produced in a jumbled assortment of tones and voices which may not use language consistently or provide a clear and consistent image of your brand.

More common in larger organizations and often exacerbated by external entities like agencies and freelancers, an inconsistent brand experience can nevertheless be a problem for businesses of all size.

Though some might think a brand that sounds human is more important than one with a consistent tone, a brand voice isn’t necessarily about sounding non-human: it just means creating a voice that is consistent, and positioning your organization as an authoritative and easily recognizable source of information for your area of expertise.

A consistent brand voice and vocabulary are vital for implementing intelligent content strategies and localized content.

One simple way to find your brand voice is create a brand voice chart. Below, we’ve outlined the five steps you need to follow to create and maintain a consistent brand voice.

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Identify a representative sample of your content

After gathering all of your content, from web pages and videos to e-books and your social media, cast a critical eye over it and identify those examples that could possibly have come from your competitors, and set them aside. Try to identify examples of content that are unique to your brand, and those that embody what you want your brand voice to be. Print these examples and put them up on a whiteboard, grouping them together with other pieces that have a similar feel.

Describe your brand voice in three words

Working with your key content creators and brand identity owners, as well as other staff such as PR, customer service and sales teams, and review all of your example content, discussing any common themes and grouping these examples into thematic groups.

Imagine then, if your brand was a person, how you would describe its personality to another person. How do these traits make your brand different? For example, would you describe your brand as:

  • Authentic

  • Quirky

  • Passionate

Define each personality trait further and try to identify how these characteristics show up in your content and topics, and in how you communicate with your audience?

For example, if you described your brand as quirky, is your content unexpected and irreverent? If you described your brand as passionate, is it heartfelt, enthusiastic and expressive?

Create a brand voice chart

Once you have defined your brand voice, you can illustrate the way it shows up in your content with a brand voice chart - an essential reference tool for ensuring consistent tone in all of your content. The chart should include three rows for your primary characteristics, and three columns for a description and do’s and don’ts.

A secondary row of characteristics can be added for extra explanation. For example, if your brand is described as irreverent, does this translate as snarky or “challenging the status quo”.

Make sure your content creators understand how to put your brand voice into action

Once your brand voice is defined and illustrated, make sure your content creators are on board with using it. This includes anyone who creates any public communication or content.

You can help them to understand by going through examples of content that exemplifies your brand voice, or demonstrating how to alter content that doesn’t. An electronic version should be made available to them, as well as, if possible, hard copies to keep in a visible spot for reference.

As the company grows and changes, revisit and revise the brand voice chart

As your brand grows and new competitors come onto the market, it is a good idea to revise your brand chart and make sure it still suits your business. Not a set-it-and-forget-it type of tool, it needs to grow as your brand does.

At regular intervals, gather your key staff to evaluate which voice attributes are working for you and which aren’t. Some, for instance, might be more aspirational - irreverence, for example, is easy in theory, but the writers may be uncomfortable with it, or higher ups may too nervous to approve snarky copy. Make sure all aspects of your brand voice are attainable, and revise them if they are not.

Content Strategy VS Brand Strategy- How The Glove Fits The Hand

So we’ve all heard of brand name strategies and we’ve all heard of content strategies. But despite what most may think they are not actually the same thing. It’s true that they fall under the same umbrella strategy yes, but in truth their differences are as great as the textures and uses of the shaft vs the canopy, they make up one very useful item but are used and understood differently while at the same time still connecting and supporting each other.

This is the very nature of business strategy when done right. Different components all working singularly in a greater master machine, all independent in their importance yet moving together like cogs in an engine.

So in our quest to oil up those gears, let’s start by examining how they fit together.

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  • Brand Name Strategy

    Put simply, a brand name strategy is the outlining design of how you intend to establish and grow your brand. It's the method in which you identify yourself and your company to the world including who you are, what you stand for, what you provide and how you communicate to the public. In essence it’s your company’s profile pic.

  • Content Strategy

    Content strategy is the way in which a company executes their proposed brand strategy via content created and released on their business site or advertising.

These two facets are singular in their importance yet work together to create a desired and necessary effect.

The Struggle In Aligning Brand Name Strategy With Effective Content

Unfortunately, in many organizations around the world today, there is a distinct disconnect between content strategy and brand strategy, statistics have shown that less than 40% of marketers even use content strategy in their daily dealings at all.

In most cases the daily grind has truly become a rat race in which pulp marketing is demanded to create a quick product market fit, and instead of focusing on innovative, long lasting marketing creations, content teams are forced to concentrate on only two objectives. Making the product and selling the product, a process that may be quicker but can and does affect the overall quality of what is being achieved.

The problem comes in when demand surpasses supply and the creative become the pressed. On a daily basis marketers are pulled in a million directions each one needing immediate attention and a speedy completion, and with so many needs pulling on your resources how is one to keep up?

While each and every company want to stand the test of time, it’s often time that works against them.

Overcoming These Obstacles And Properly Aligning Your Company

In order to build a strong and long lasting brand name you need to work with intent in everything you do. As the age old saying goes thought leads to planning and planning leads to action, if one does not plan correctly you could end up marching your company right off a cliff, and no you won’t have a parachute! Why not? Because you didn’t think to pack one- hence lack of planning.

A well presented brand and relevant content affects how you do business—and, most importantly, how you’re perceived. A misaligned content strategy not only dilutes but actually damages your brand.

So how can you improve this all important baseline, and where do you even start?

Here are some tactics to set you on your way:

Ensure that your Content Mirrors Your Core Identity

In the business world perception is everything. Simply saying something isn’t going to cut it! Each facet of your company needs to be punctuated with relevance and purpose. There is no better way to achieve this than by utilizing effective content. Content can help your brand when talking about causes you care about or sharing an exciting behind-the-scenes look at your office, it’s the perfect tool to draw people in and get them looking. While also describing who you are as a company in the now as well as who you want to be in the future.

Follow Brand Guidelines Like Dorothy On The Yellow Brick Road

As business owners we all want to reach that coveted emerald city! Gems, prosperity, success, wealth! It’s just unfortunate that none of us have the map, or do we?

In actual fact that is exactly what brand guidelines are. When preserving your brand, consistency is key. Everything your company does should follow your brand’s visual and verbal language, in essence painting a map of where you have been right through to where you plan to end up. A well planned journey is a joy to take and a timeous arrival.

Always Refine Your Content Strategy

No business strategy is immortal, times change and with it your needs and ideas. Because of this it is important to evaluate your strategies and refine them accordingly. Relevance has always been the key factor in keeping with the times and cresting the waves. This is easily achieved by monitoring your website metrics, keep up with the in crowd by researching current trends and elevate your content by including things that make people think.

Assign A Brand Content Manager   

If the emerald city was the promised land, the continuance of constant perfect execution would be its garden. In reality for most marketers via being pushed for time or inspiration this is usually not the case. Because of this it is always very beneficial to have a team member in charge of overseeing your content creations in order to ensure they are not only accurate but appealing for their intended use.

Making Success The Very Content Of Your Future Business Relations    

Brand names have long been recognised as the basis of a successful company, even going as far as the majority of society swearing by certain brands while others could actually be just as good they are in fact just not as well known. That is the very reason why we do what we do and strive to be fantastic at it. That is the very reason why planning is key and action is reflected in the final product.

At the end of the day if a company has all of its ducks in a row and its content is properly aligned with its brand name it shows. So the next time you find yourself bowing to the pressures and whims of time, buckling under the weight of performing, try taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture.

SEO Dos and Don'ts: Get Your Digital Marketing Content Up to Scratch

SEO isn’t going anywhere. It’s about time to start facing that as a cold, hard fact.

Your marketing content can be amazing in every possible way, but if your SEO practices aren’t up to scratch, you’ve got a pretty slim chance of making any sort of impact.

SEO is an essential part of any content marketing strategy.

If you want content that converts viewers into customers, we’ve prepared a few tips that might come in handy.

Bad Grammar Can Affect Your Business

You’re a marketer, a salesperson, not a writer.

Writing just isn’t your cuppa, you do it because you have to.

You need to get your point across, you want people to realise that you’re the real deal. They KNOW you’re not a professional language buff, so the occasional mistake won’t matter.

Right? Wrong.

At all times, in business, you need to maintain a certain level of professionalism.

Your emails, social media posts, and blogs need to be both informative and accurate.

All of your outgoing messages should show that you deserve to be taken seriously.; and you can’t do that when your content is poorly written.

Omnipresent Marketing: The Ultimate Goal for Your Business

Is it possible to be everywhere at the same time?

For a regular person, no.

For a business’brand, yes.

Omnipresent marketing is a goal that all businesses should strive for.

You might think that creating killer content is all you need to do. The fact of the matter is that this is only half the battle.

A content distribution strategy is equally important. It’s what helps you ensure that all the right people see your brand in all the right places.