So you need a content strategy - let’s get started.
Whether you are building your personal brand and social presence or working for a client on a large consumer brand, content is the branding extension that strengthens the relationship between brand and audience. It makes a brand relevant, relatable and memorable when done well. Fueling your social, digital and email channels with great content can be a lot - especially if you have a lean team (or it’s just you, we’ve all been there and you’re doing great).
That’s where creating a strategy and content engine comes into play. When you set yourself up with the right strategy, you’ll end up with storylines and repeatable frameworks that keep your channels consistent and make content creation a lighter lift. You’re essentially setting a playbook and guiding principles for your content.
As a marketing strategist with a content specialty, I’ve worked with many consumer brands on building and perfecting a content strategy that achieves marketing goals. From strategy to execution, I’ve picked up a few best practices to help you think about content differently and to save you time. While you will develop your own spin, I hope these steps will kick-start you to success!
How to Start Your Content Strategy in 5 Steps
1. Set & Understand Your Goal
This is SO important. Oftentimes the clients and stakeholders I work with don’t even know their end goal because they get into the production = result mindset. We have to take a step back to understand what we’re trying to achieve and how we’ll quantify its success.
The equation we should be setting is:
Objective + Channel + Right KPIs = Goal
Some other things to think about depending how far along you are:
How will we set up measurement?
Who are the partners (vendors, other agencies, etc) that we should pull in?
2. Do Your Research
Yes, this sounds simple but are you researching the right things based on the maturity of the brand? Launching a brand and nurturing a household name are two different asks. Either way, it’s good to do your due diligence.
If you don’t already know your brand’s positioning and value add, use research to identify it. What makes it unique? What do you offer that others don’t?
The top questions you should ask: What do I already know about this audience and what are they looking for? Other questions to consider:
What are other brands in this space doing? What’s working for them?
What is no one doing that there is an appetite for?
What’s happening in the world and how does the brand fit in?
Land on an ownable piece of marketing real estate.
3. Write The Story
If you are working on your personal brand, this is w
here I highly suggest switching your mindset as this is the hardest piece for me to think through when I went through the process for my personal brand. You are now a consultant for this brand without connection to it :)
Once you have your ownable, unique value add, it’s time to write the story. Is this necessary - well depends who you ask. I’ve found that a story blends everything together cohesively and helps as you build out your content pillars.
So how do you start that? Let’s say your brand’s ownable marketing real estate is taking something complicated and simplifying it, for example, a newsletter that breaks down must know news but that you can read in 5 to 10 minutes. Your brand’s story could be that you’re lowering the barrier of entry for readers to make current events more approachable while bettering people’s understanding of timely and critical news stories.
Then from there, you can build out your content pillars to tackle the themes you want to talk about.
4. Define Your Pillars
What are content pillars? These are the three to four themes that you will always be talking about. They are meant to educate, excite and entertain.
Let’s take our newsletter example. In the world of digital content, this brand’s pillars could be:
Educate = Sparking Awareness
It encompasses: Highlighting breaking news, breaking down the news and providing resources for our audience to increase their understanding
Ex: Breaking down the effects of new legislation for everyday people
Excite = Procuring Perspective
It encompasses: Showcasing what we know to inspire our audience to enhance their perspective.
Ex: Round-ups of top rated cities to visit
Entertain = Culture Cues
It encompasses: Creating conversation around tent pole moments that gets our audience to engage.
Ex: Pop culture moments and memes
Obviously these are examples of how to bring a hypothetical brand to life and are meant to be generalized. As you build out pillars, you’ll start to get the hang of it.
5. Produce & Post
We’ve now put a foundation together for content that can be activated across all of your channels. Your content pillars are meant to be used in creating social posts, email content and content that will live across your digital ecosystem in paid ads and beyond.
Now that your brand has a strategy, come up with some repeatable frameworks and templatize. This makes cranking out content a lot easier. Try setting time aside for content batching and knock out a week or two’s worth of posts or emails at a time.
As you get going, you’ll figure out the content that works for your brand and identify what types of repeatable content you should create. Measurement is the key here. Look at what content themes are performing well on each of your channels and use that to guide what content you produce.
A content strategy isn’t one-size fits all. Each should be developed with intricacies for the brand within the business and the category. I hope this helps you kickstart your strategy. Looking for more? Join my mailing list and make sure you’re following along on Pinterest.