Fix Your Overcomplicated Content Marketing Strategy In a Few Simple Steps
By Carrie Dagenhard on February 5, 2019
I haven't watched the newest Netflix hit, Tidying Up, nor have I read Marie Kondo's books, but I'm pretty sure I get the gist: less stuff = more joy.
It seems simple-too simple. And yet, Kondo has sold more than five million copies of her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and my Facebook feed is filled with friends extolling the virtues of her show. That's because, for most of us, whittling our belongings down to the bare necessities doesn't come naturally.
And when it comes to composing a content marketing strategy, keeping it simple has proved no easy feat for marketers either. We have a tendency to overcomplicate things-vacillating between being detail-obsessed data nerds and crazed creatives, often falling into the trap of thinking we can (and should) do it all. Going overboard isn't doing us any favors. While you might feel like you'll strengthen outcomes by adding extra brainstorming sessions, directives, and processes, a convoluted plan can quickly undermine your content marketing success.
The Necessities of Crafting a Content Marketing Strategy
Developing a content marketing strategy is no easy task. It's often fraught with technical and creative obstacles and requires a hefty commitment of time and energy. From tedious data deep dives and audience research to SEO analyses, meticulous editorial planning, and pressure from senior stakeholders, the experience can be downright exhausting. Thankfully, we've done the hard part for you. Download Skyword's Content Strategy Playbook for templates and expert advice to create your own "always on" strategy driven by powerful, meaningful, purposeful content published on a regular basis.
Before you dive into the full resource, here are the seven necessities to include when documenting your strategy:
1. Mission Statement
Your mission statement is the driving force behind your content creation. Quite simply, it's what you do, for whom you do it, and why. Follow this useful template for a straightforward mission statement:
Become a trusted brand for [target audience] interested in [topics] to help them [customer value].
Here's what that ends up looking like: "Become a trusted brand for aging adults interested in fitness to help them live a healthy, independent lifestyle." It's that simple.
2. Brand Voice
In this section, you should detail your tone and style. For tone, be sure to describe the impression you aim to give off when someone engages with your content-like scientific and serious, or personable and playful. For style, include or link to your brand style guide.
This is where you'll include persona information and audience demographics. This is also where it's helpful to share revenue data, such as where your largest or most repeat purchases come, to help define your "ideal customers." Additionally, discuss your audience's content consumption habits and buyer's journey.
4. Channel Strategy
In this section, break down which marketing channels buyers engage with along their path to purchase, as well as specific platforms within each channel. Be sure to discuss your owned, earned, and paid media strategy.
5. Editorial Calendar
A comprehensive editorial calendar provides visibility into all planned content across your multi-channel strategy. This tool keeps your team organized and ensures nothing slips through the cracks. You should never launch a content strategy without one.
6. Business Goals
Not only is it critical to list your organization's objectives for easy reference, but you should also map out how your content aims to help your business achieve these goals. Whether you're looking to drive more traffic to your site or increase awareness for your brand, it's important to have your goals listed to keep everyone accountable.
7. Measurement (Metrics and KPIs)
In this section, you'll define how you'll monitor performance, track progress, and determine success. Be sure to include specific metrics, key performance indicators, and how you assign value to your content efforts.
How to Create an Effective Content Marketing Strategy
Stuck with a complex or messy strategy? You're not alone. When you're busy, stretched paper-thin, and feeling pressure from the C-suite to drive fast results, organization can fall by the wayside. To simplify your strategy and boost its effectiveness, remember these tips:
If your strategy only lives in the minds of you and your team, that's a problem. Instead, compile everything into one master document, folder, slide deck-something that houses all of the elements listed above and can be easily accessed. One thing I've learned from Tidying Up (er, at least the Netflix trailer) is that laying everything out gives you an opportunity to take stock of what you have and quickly identify what you no longer need. Documenting your content strategy will help you squelch the clutter.
Having everything in one place also makes it easier to keep your engine running when a key player (and their tribal knowledge) takes a vacation or leaves the organization.
"Part of what makes a documented strategy so powerful is that every person on your team-from your content creators to your senior-level directors and everyone in between-can see what, why, and how your company is communicating," says Kelsey Meyer, president of Influence & Co., in a HubSpot blog post. "This alignment makes it easier to get buy-in, crowdsource content, and pull employees into the distribution process, and it makes your efforts stronger because it extends your reach beyond the marketing team."
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Speak to Your Audience
Getting too caught up in the minutiae of planning can water down creativity and muddy your message. If there's one thing that should guide your strategy, it's your audience. And if you're not creating content that resonates with them, no framework in the world can help you.
Optimize Don't Overdo
Spreading your strategy across too many channels or platforms is a surefire way to burn out if you don't have the proper resources. That's why it's essential you choose wisely. Just because one platform seems to be the "next big thing" doesn't mean you have to create a presence there-especially if you're not entirely sure how it works or whether it's even relevant to your audience. Scale down your channel strategy to the essentials: commit your time and energy to thrive in those spaces, and then scale up as necessary.
The same holds true for content production. If you're overextending yourself to create brand new, highly unique pieces of content every single day, you need to reassess.
Instead of racking your brain to continually come up with ingenious new ideas, repurpose successful content in other formats. For example, you can transform a popular blog post into a podcast episode or video, or turn content from a webinar into an infographic or guide.
Content optimization is an essential component to include in your strategy to make sure you're not wasting time duplicating materials or forgetting about older content that could be earning major dividends for your brand.
The simplest way to identify which content is the most valuable is by accessing all of your data from a central location. Working with a tool that helps you generate performance snapshots and provide dashboards of actionable information will make it a breeze to identify which materials you can revitalize with a fresh perspective. By starting with a clear strategy and focusing only on the most powerful pieces in your arsenal, you'll be left with a content marketing program that will spark joy for every member of your team and your audience.
For more on how Skyword360 helps enterprise brands create and perfect a content strategy that builds brand loyalty, establishes thought leadership, and provides relevant content to prospects, watch our content strategy webinar.
Featured image attribution: estrattonbailey