Creating and executing a content marketing strategy is easy. You just start blogging, right?. Simple.
Not so fast. We can all agree that B2B content marketing is not rocket science, but it’s definitely not easy. Successful content marketing does require a clear, defined strategy in order to be effective.
We’ve created a simple 11-step guide to create a content strategy that rocks (and generates leads). Check out the quick-start steps below.
Define Your Goals
You don’t know how to get there if you aren’t sure where you are going. What is the purpose of your content strategy? Do you want to generate leads, build brand recognition, attract investors, sell more widgets, or entice top talent to your firm?
Before you start clacking away on the keyboard on your first blog or social media post, set clear goals for your content strategy. If you have a clearly defined general marketing strategy, pull from that to see where content will fit in. Goals will also help with evaluating your efforts and the success of your strategy down the road.
Allocate Resources and Budget
What are you working with? Do you have IBM’s budget and resources? Probably not. Have a frank discussion with your team or boss to determine what resources you will have access to and what type of yearly or monthly budget you are working with for your content marketing strategy.
Ask questions such as: Who will write these blogs? Who will post the blogs? Will I have access to a designer on a weekly basis? How many hours do I get from the designer? How much money do I have to create (hire a writer) and promote the content (via social media ads, native ads, account-based advertising)?
Once you know what resources and budget you have available, decide what you can and cannot do. Hiring a full-time writer is expensive. If you don’t have the budget for a full-time copywriter, decide if you can work with a freelance writer. If you don’t even have the budget for that, choose who will be writing content internally. Which subject matter experts do you have access to who are willing to write a blog, article, white paper, case study, etc.?
Also, based on your human resources and the size of your team, select what’s feasible to include in your strategy. If you only get five hours of a designer’s time each month, you can’t create a case study, an ebook, two blogs, and an infographic each month. Set realistic expectations for what can be achieved with your resources.
Who Is Your Ideal Client?
You may need to talk to customer support and sales to answer this question. While you may work with large and small firms, maybe medium-sized businesses are the ideal match for your firm. If you don’t already have an ideal client profile created, make one.
For example, a software firm may define their ideal client as an experienced CTO at a mid-sized communications firm who only has a staff of three and isn’t able to manage the ongoing support needed for the software. Visualize who you are creating content for and any defining characteristics about them.
What Are Your Client’s Pain Points?
Now that you know who your ideal client is and their general characteristics, define their pain points. Are they super busy? Are they under stress to find the right vendor-partner? Do they want to know how everything works? Do they need a solution that integrates easily? Are they worried about fines for non-compliance? Have they been burned by incomplete solutions in the past?
We recommend starting with two or three main pain points to focus on – anything over four starts to get convoluted. Your objective is to determine the most important and relevant pain points that your brand can address. If your solution isn’t the cheapest on the market, don’t focus on a pain point about cost concerns, because that is not your ideal client.
Write Out Your Value Proposition
What do you offer to clients that is valuable to them? That is your value proposition. It’s often what distinguishes you from your competition as well. Write this down so it is clear and can be shared with any members of your content marketing team.
Be a Thought Leader, Not a Follower
You are an expert on your product or service and your industry. Your content strategy should reflect that. It should also position you as the go-to source for your current clients and for potential clients. Your content should always be unique and should never be a regurgitation of what everyone else is saying. Always keep this in mind as you draft up your strategy.
Determine what subjects you want to be a thought leader on. Process implementation? How-tos? Research? Innovation?
Outline Your Content Strategy
You’ve put in all the foundational work, now it’s time for your content strategy to take shape. Start with a rough outline of your content strategy. It can be as simple as pulling up a Word or Excel document and listing the types of content you want to create, along with a general monthly schedule.
Begin with a high-level overview and get more granular later on. This will help you to stay focused initially and not lose sight of your goals, ideal client’s pain points, and purpose.
Create a List of Topics
After your rough strategy is created and slightly refined, write down a list of topic ideas. We suggest brainstorming with a representative from each department that has contact with your clients. This may include sales, client onboarding, account management, and fulfillment. You can either have an hour meeting with them all where you write down all the topics that come to mind or you can ask each representative to send you a list of frequently asked questions or topic ideas. Whatever works best for your firm’s culture.
Build an Editorial Calendar
Once you are armed with about 40 – 50 topics, you can start an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar can be monthly, weekly, daily, or whatever timeline makes sense for your content marketing strategy. We typically work on a monthly basis for topics for our clients.
Take the topics that you culled from your internal team and group them by themes. Arrange your calendar around those themes and decide what will work best for a short blog, a longer article, a detailed white paper, or a straightforward ebook.
Ready, steady, go! Launch your B2B content marketing strategy and start crafting that awesome content your clients love, your internal team uses, and your prospects want to download!
If you think your firm is failing at content marketing, see what you can do to turn your content marketing around.