Charles Darwin may not have had your content strategy in mind when he said
It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.
But the sentiment holds true in this day and age of online marketing, and business growth.
Too often we hear of organisations who tried, and abandoned their content marketing efforts all because they failed to understand the nature of the strategy; triathlon, not flat sprint. Or the agility required; running is great, unless you are in the ocean, in which case swimming will get you further.
The real disconnect however is to do with expectation.
What results are expected vary greatly between different businesses and can depend on what their experience has been. It is as much the fault of the marketers as anyone.
10x your business with this one email!
Except by the time you’ve set up the strategy, created enough content to fuel it and run it for 3 months (or 2 or 6…) you suddenly find nothing is working, your results are flat and the flood of new clients you were expecting are less than a sporadic drip.
The basic steps for a successful content marketing strategy
Define the purpose of the strategy
We have identified 7 damn good reasons a business would invest time and resources into a content strategy. There is no particular order or sequence to the list; each is relevant at different times for different reasons. The strategy lies in developing content that suits the needs of your business, and the understanding of your audience to know how long it will take to get some traction (pro-tip: it’s usually longer than you think and alway longer than you want).
Build in your review process
If you are starting out with new content, a lot of what you will be doing is testing what works and what doesn’t work. Unless you are publishing every day, it will take around 6 months to start seeing what is working and what is not. Once you start to see a trend, you can then focus the direction of your content.
What you publish versus what you broadcast
Publishing a series of 4 articles on your website blog and sitting back will get you the very predictable result of pretty much nothing. Publishing 4 articles every month and broadcasting them on social media and using them to fill your newsletters will get you very different results. Creating the content is only the beginning. Like going on a holiday – packing your bag is an essential part of the journey… but a packed bag alone won’t get you to you destination. There are a lot of other things that need to happen.
As you continue to create, publish and review your content, make sure you check back to the initial reason you started and ask
- Is the content right for this purpose?
- Have you seen any traction?
- What is the right content for my business goals right now?
- Where do I want to be in 6 months time, and do I need to start a new stream of content to fulfil that need?
Eyes on the road
As well as the strategic changes you need to be across, there are the technical and environmental changes as well. New apps for writing, planning, scheduling and publishing content are being release almost daily – is there something new that will streamline your internal process of content creation?
And finally, what worked last week may not work next week – or at least, not in the same way. Facebook advertising was a boon for early adopters, but now every man and his business is out there promoting and advertising. It’s crowded and loud, so getting results requires smarter content, and bigger spend.
While this may seem like a lot of things to consider, the plus side is the amount of experimentation you can do. Try something quirky, discover a new audience, or toe-test a product or service idea. You might be surprised what people will respond to and how you can open new revenue streams by testing ideas.