Did you know that every day on the internet:
- There are 4.75 Billion pieces of content shared
- There are 1.8 Billion photos uploaded
- There are 700 Million Snapchats
- There are 500 Million tweets
Marketing, as we know it, is being transformed right in front of our eyes. More and more messages are being promoted every day, on more channels, and as a result, consumers are learning to simply tune out the noise.
Because of this, brands must leverage content marketing to deliver the useful information necessary to educate and build trust with their audiences. But they often fail to document what they are trying to achieve, how they will get it done, and what measures will prove success.
Recently I presented to more than 600 attendees on a Webinar: “How To Plan And Build A Successful Content Marketing Strategy.” I covered:
- The key factors for content marketing success
- The core components of a content marketing strategy
- I answered the main questions of how to build a solid content marketing strategy
I shared my secret that effective content marketing was relatively simple:
“The buyer journey is nothing more than a series of questions that must be answered.” ~ IDC
I shared the Content Marketing Institute’s more formal definition of content marketing:
“Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” ~ Content Marketing Institute
I showed the Venn Diagram I use to define content marketing in every presentation. Content marketing is the overlap between what a brand knows and what their audience is looking for. It does not seek to promote the brand and just talk about itself (lame). And it does not seek to simply entertain (ineffective). Instead, effective content marketing seeks to help educate the buyer in their journey. It seeks to make the customer the hero!
And I shared the rallying cry for why we need to change:
“We have to stop interrupting what people are interested in, and be what people are interested in.”
I also showed how important content marketing is to the modern buyer journey:
The 6 factors to content marketing success:
- Document content strategy
- Have someone in charge of content
- Consistently publish quality content
- Map content to buyer journey
- Balance Paid, Owned, Earned Media
- Track Content Marketing ROI
Here is what an effective content marketing strategy framework looks like:
The Content Marketing Roadmap
A content marketing strategy effectively answers a key series of questions about your marketing strategy, your website, target buyers, SEO, your budget, the business case, the approach to thought leadership, the content, distribution and measurement.
I provided an example and a template for anyone to develop their content marketing mission:
Your Content Marketing Mission Statement
Become a destination for [target audience] interested in [topics]. To help them [customer value].
This will help us [your content marketing goals]
- Earn your audience’s attention vs. just buying it
- Reach, engage and convert NEW buyers
I provided a spreadsheet to help anyone measure their content marketing results:
Content Marketing Dashboard and Reporting Template
Download the Content Marketing Measurement dashboard template.
The Content Marketing “Unique Point of View” Trap
This is so common I almost once lost my job over it. You see I had a manager who only wanted content that presented a unique point of view. However the focus on this is self-serving. And today’s audiences see right through it. In order to win trust, you have to sincerely answer a customer question.
The 3 Steps to Building Your Content Marketing Strategy
- You have to develop the why – the business case for why you need a new approach
- You have to define how you will achieve this goal
- You have to show what business outcomes you will measure
Content Marketing Budgets
I also talked about the budgeting process for your overall budget and for your content budget. I suggest starting with the “rule of thirds.”For Overall Budgets:
- One-third of your budget on technology / infrastructure
- One-third of your budget on content
- One-third of your budget on paid distribution
For The Content Budget:
- One-third of your budget on original content
- One-third of your budget on refreshing evergreen content
- One-third of your budget on employee activation or co-created content with employees, influencers, customers
This also works when you consider the Hollywood model of budgeting for movies where 50% of the budget goes to production of the content and 50% of the budget goes to distribution.
One comment about the “rule of thirds.” The mix ends up being different for every brand. The point is to start with this as a budget assumption. Once you start publishing and measuring results, you can optimize the budget for superior content marketing results.
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How To Plan And Build A Successful Content Marketing Strategy from Michael Brenner
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8 thoughts on “How To Plan And Build A Successful Content Marketing Strategy”
I think a lot of people get content marketing wrong because they focus on quantity and not quality content. For instance, they might have a series of low value articles that don’t really provide a huge amount of value. For instance, how-tos that everyone has already done. To be effective with content marketing you have to create something so awesome that people REALLY want to share your content. For me brainstorming seems to be the biggest battle.
Over the years I have found that really doing your research really helps. Meaning the first ideas that you come up might not be the “gold nugget”.
Thanks for the templates on how to manage your content marketing campaigns. I do have a question for you. Which content marketing strategies do you feel are the most effective for my niche “web hosting reviews”. Which strategies do you feel might be a waste of time? I have used infographics and focused on some blog outreach in the past. The results have been pretty good, but I am always looking to improve my strategies.
Hi Garen, thank for your comment and question. I have a post on here about the quantity vs. quality debate. I will link to it below. But the main point was this: you have to do both. The more you write, the more opportunity you have to 1) get in front of your customers at the moment of their need for information or inspiration and 2) actually have the answer.
I suggest setting a quality bar high but then committing to a certain volume per day per topic.
Remember I started the article with the secret that content marketing success is as simple as answering your customers’ questions (better than anyone else?)
You commented on the ineffectiveness of “how to” articles but I have seen many brands use them to great effect because they answer customer questions.
My advice is to determine what information needs your customers have and provide as much of that as you can, as often as you can.
Final point: use the data to tell what is actually working and then make sure to optimize and test new ideas all the time.
An instructive post. People to really know who they want to reach and why or else, they’ll have no way to know what they’re trying to achieve. People need to hear this and have it drilled in their brains..
Thanks for sharing this great article.
Thanks so much Jackson. We’re trying to follow our own advice and focus on our audience and on being truly helpful. Really appreciate your comment and support.
A great read Michael! content is something that shows the uniqueness of your organization which need to be tailored with specific to your targeted audience and what they wanted to see from you
Great Insights in article, Really developing a content marketing strategy is vital for any business. Without one, our efforts to attract customers are likely to be haphazard and inefficient. i would like to share this article with my marketing team. Tank You!
hard to put put much trust in your insight since your downloads don’t work….on three different computers
Hi Russell, I really appreciate you letting me know that these links had broken. I updated the post. I only have an image for the content audit but the measurement template is in xls.
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