Bill Gates once famously said, “Content is king.” That was in 1996. How long ago was that? In 1996 the Dallas Cowboys were Superbowl champions, a fairly unknown lady named Oprah started her bookclub, and the first Mission: Impossible movie had just hit theaters. Fast forward almost 20 years and five Mission: Impossibles later (counting the upcoming Mission: Impossible — Fallout), and even though Tom Cruise is still doing his own stunts, most other things have changed since then, especially in the world of content.
Content may still be king, but in 2013 Jonah Peretti, the CEO of Buzzfeed, added onto Bill Gates’ original quote, “Content is king, but distribution is queen. And she wears the pants.”
In 2015, Gary Vaynerchuk, not wanting to be outdone, added his spin on the quote, “Content is king, but context is God.”
As you can see by the evolution of the content hierarchy, there is more to creating content than ever before. In today’s world, to ensure your content reaches your target audience and delivers the results you want, developing and executing a content strategy is vital. Never created a content strategy before? Don’t know where to start? Intimidated by what it might entail? Let me help by sharing how to create the foundation of a content strategy that will stand the test of time.
Here are 4 steps to developing a sound content strategy:
- Determine your goal
- Define your audience
- Choose your Content
- Get to work
1. Determine your goal:
Ellen Gomes from Marketo shared her thoughts on why goal setting needs to be the first step in a content strategy. “One of the best ways to sabotage your content is to not tie it to your goals. Know why you’re creating content.” You need to know the ‘why’ of your content creation. I can’t stress this enough. Without a goal there is no point. So when you have a new idea for a piece of content, ask yourself what you are hoping to get in return for your content. Is it brand awareness? Lead generation? User engagement? Revenue?
If you don’t have a clear vision of what you want your content to accomplish, you might as well be sharing an excerpt from your personal diary and hope that it gets people to buy your product. It sounds crazy, but this is a major crisis in many companies today. They create content to, well, simply create content. There is little rhyme or reason to their content, other than that they see other companies doing it and don’t want to be left behind. Don’t fall into this trap. Take the time needed to clearly identify the goals you are going to accomplish.
2. Define your audience:
Once your goals are in place, the next step is understanding the demographic you are trying to reach. This is a crucial part of Gary V’s ‘Context is God’ idea (he goes much more in depth on this here if you want to dive in deep). This will shape the type of content and tone in which you will be sharing the content. You need to create content that those your target audience will like — not what you like or what hope they will like.
Invest in defining your target audience. This will give you the context needed to create relevant content that gives value. As you produce more valuable content, you will engage with your audience and help them move down the funnel, one step closer to your goal.
3. Choose your Content:
Now is the time to ask the big question, “What type of content will most effectively conquer my goal and resonate with my audience?” This will also be a huge determining factor for distribution. The type of content will determine which distribution channels to pursue, and whether or not to keep the distribution organic or allocate funds into paid channels.
Sometimes, the type of content and the channels to use will become abundantly obvious as you consider your goals and audience. More often, however, this step will take some in-depth brainstorming, since some strategies could be executed either through a single type of content, or through multiple mediums. Always keep in mind that this “choose your content” step is connected to and builds upon the previous two steps of knowing your goal and your audience.
Here is a helpful list of possible content mediums:
- Blog posts
- White papers
- Case Studies
- Email Newsletters
4. Get to work
The last piece of the strategy is straightforward: get to work. You know your goal, your audience, the type of content you will be creating, and the distribution channel. You have the content strategy in place. All that is left to do is write the blog post, design the infographic, or record the video and push it live.
Will there be extras steps after it’s live? Absolutely. There will be testing, analysis, re-optimizations, and other tasks. But for now, following the fours steps in this content strategy will set you up to produce relevant content. Content that will hit your goals. Content that will turn heads. Content fit for 2018.