“If you have no plan, then that’s your plan.” I had a college professor who used to say that. He probably thought it was profound; I thought it was kinda obvious. 19-year-old me probably wanted to know why it was better to spend time making plans rather than just winging it, which always sounds like the best plan when you’re 19…
Older me knows that planning and preparation are almost always worth the time. Especially when it comes to content marketing.
Having a content marketing strategy that governs your activity is critical (and yes, I’ve tried winging it, to poor results). Here are a few simple reasons why investing the time into developing a sound content strategy just makes sense.
Your content marketing strategy helps ensure you’re putting your effort in the right place
“We need more content on our website.” “Our sales team needs more case studies.” The IT group wants a white paper on this.” We’ve all heard these demands! How do you know which one is the right one to focus your energy on? Your strategy is the foundation for your content creation efforts. It should tell you what your objectives are, who your audience is, what they need, how you’re going to engage with them and how you’re going to track, measure and report on your progress. In other words, it’ll help you ensure you’re not creating content just for the sake of creating it (and should tell you with some degree of certainty whether your sales team really does need another case study).
It helps you determine the right resources (including budget)
It’s easy to look at content marketing and think, “well, I need a couple writers and a designer, and I’m good to go.” But your strategy should inform who the right people are and how much money you need. For example, if you’ve determined that your objective is to grow brand awareness and that your audience is social-savvy and more likely to consume infographics and video content, then you know you need budget for video and that you need a videographer rather than another writer.
Your content marketing strategy holds your content team accountable and showcases their value
A lot of marketing execs still give content, or at least content creators, the side-eye because they think the writers just sit in the corner pounding on their keyboards and the VP isn’t sure how to measure or track what they’re doing. 20 years ago, these efforts really were difficult to track, but every bit of content can be measured and reported on today. And if your strategy is clear on what you’re tracking, and why, and what your overall objectives are, then your content team is accountable to something specific. And, if you do it right, you’re able to prove their worth when those objectives are met.
It’s your business case (and protection against cost reductions)
No one likes to feel like they have to justify their existence in an organization, but unfortunately, that’s part of the gig. Especially because we all know that, when the company has a rough quarter or two, marketing is first place the axe comes down. But if you’ve got a strategy that clearly defines how your content team is contributing to this year’s overall company goals, including revenue and retention, then that helps define your team’s value and helps the execs understand what they’re losing if they cut your budget or your headcount.
It sets the groundwork for content beyond marketing
So let’s say you’ve done your marketing strategy, you know who you’re targeting and why, you’ve got production ducks in a row and your publishing and deploying your content according to plan. All done right? Not quite! How are you leveraging that content beyond external marketing? How are you enabling your salespeople to use it? Are you using it to get new employees up to speed? The content you create for marketing purposes has many uses, and the more you use it for, the more you’re getting your money’s worth. The good news is, your external marketing strategy can easily be repurposed for other audiences.
These are just a few, I hope, less obvious reasons you should invest time in a proper content marketing strategy. Overall your content marketing strategy should help ensure you, your content team and your entire marketing department developing and publishing content in the more effective way possible.