15 steps to developing a winning content strategy

So you’ve decided it’s time to finally invest in content marketing.

Congratulations!! Content marketing is a must for generating brand awareness, boosting your credibility, driving traffic to your site, and increasing leads and sales. Need more convincing? Find out why content marketing is so important.

When you’re just starting out, though, the prospect of content marketing can seem daunting. There are so many factors to consider. What content should you produce? How do you promote it? What are the right content formats to focus on? Those questions are just the tip of the content strategy iceberg.

In my experience, it’s important to have a well-crafted content strategy before you begin. If you don’t, you could waste a lot of time, effort and money producing content that doesn’t deliver the results you are looking for.

In this post, I’ll present 15 questions that I always discuss with new content marketing clients before we get to work on their content. Ask yourself these questions and you’ll be more likely to develop an effective content marketing strategy that gets you the results you want.

1. Map out your content marketing objectives

The first thing you need to decide is what your content marketing objectives are. For example:

  • Are you trying to emerge as a thought leader in your space?
  • Is your main priority to boost sales?
  • Is your goal to grow your organic traffic?
  • Is your intention to fuel your social media marketing efforts?

The right content strategy can achieve these benefits and more. But, especially you have a small team and limited resources, I encourage you to identify your top priority or two.

That will help you decide which tactics to prioritize in order to achieve your desired results. For example:

  • If your priority is to increase sales, then you’ll want to create the right content to helps you turn visitors into customers. You’ll also need to use calls to action strategically.
  • If your goal is to increase your social media followers, then you’ll need to select the right content formats to appeal to your audience on each network. You’ll also need an effective social media promotion strategy and an influencer outreach plan.
  • If organic traffic is your primary goal, then you’ll need to conduct keyword research in order to optimize each piece of content for the right key phrases.

2. Define your ideal customer

Before you start creating content, you need to have a very clear picture of who your ideal customer is. Only then will you be able to craft a content strategy that draws in the right people, engages them, and helps turn them into customers.

I suggest creating buyer personas to support your content marketing strategy. For some helpful tips on how to do that, check out my article, infographic and downloadable template on how to use buyer personas to optimize your marketing.

facebook-Your consumers should be center stage, not the brand
pinterest-Your consumers should be center stage, not the brand

3. Identify your ideal customers’ objectives

Make sure you clearly understand which objectives your ideal customers are trying to meet. For example, is it to save time? To increase sales? To improve their productivity?

Whatever it is, figuring it out at the outset will help you come up with ideas for content around those benefits.

For example, if you produce software to help property developers easily update their websites, you could produce blog posts about how having an up-to-date website can help them sell more properties and reduce expenses.

4. Itemize the problems you solve for your customers

Before your customers begin to seek out a solution like yours, they need to be aware that they have a problem that needs solving. Your strategy should include content that focuses on the problem and presents its solutions in a general sense, without hard selling your product or service.

For example, if your company produces software to design offices, you could create content about the most costly office design errors. Or about the problems that occur when an office redesign takes too long.

The goal is to provoke the reader into becoming more acutely aware of the problem and to move them to the next stage, of seeking a solution.

And for the buyers who are already solution seeking, you should plan solution articles. So in keeping with our example of office design software, you would create content like “10 ways to accelerate your office design” or “how to avoid 5 common office design mistakes”.

facebook-Focus on providing better answers for your audience
pinterest-Focus on providing better answers for your audience

5. Identify how your solution different

After your prospects have acknowledged that they have a problem and that solutions to the problem exist, their next step will be to become aware of specific solutions and to compare them to one another.

Before you start creating content, spend time analyzing your strengths relative to your competitors’ and devise ideas for content that highlights those features.

Again, you can do that without hard selling your product. Instead, focus on the important benefits that your unique functionality delivers. For example, if you manufacture an energy bar that includes a healthy ingredient that other bars don’t, you could produce a post on the health benefits of that ingredient.

6. Figure out what questions your prospects have on their way to becoming customers

As you’re devising your content strategy, it’s worth enlisting the help of your customer-facing teams to uncover the questions that are frequently asked by prospects before they buy.

Come up with ideas for content that answers those questions in order to help you shorten the sales cycle and attract buyers who are searching for the answers to their questions.

facebook-These days, people want to learn before they buy, be educated instead of pitched