Content Marketing, Content Strategy

Content Strategy Truths

7 Core Truths That Should Drive Your Content Strategy

Content rules.  We all know this to be truth.  Where it starts to get a little fuzzy is around that big word we call STRATEGY.  But it doesn’t have to be overly complex.  A few core content strategy truths can help set the foundation for your business to succeed in this content driven society we live in.  

Truth #1:  Content Marketing is NOT the Same as Content Strategy

First and foremost, content marketing and content strategy are not one in the same.  Many companies have rushed to join the ranks and are now engaged in content marketing.  Yet, a large portion of these companies are doing so without a content strategy.  They simply churn out as much content as they can, without really understanding the “who, what, where, when, why and how” to be successful.  Content marketing is WHAT you do.  Content strategy is HOW you plan to do it.  Content marketing is thus only as effective as the content strategy driving it.  Creating a solid content strategy doesn’t have to be rocket science.  What it does is provide the underlying context to make your content marketing meaningful and measurable.

Truth #2: Content Marketing is NOT Free. 
Developing a content strategy and creating powerful content take time and effort.  The last I checked, both time and effort cost money.  Yet, very few companies have a dedicated content marketing budget.  No doubt paid advertising is a line item in most budgets across the board.  But content marketing?  It falls under the general marketing responsibilities bucket of “just get it done.”  It’s time for companies to realize that creating content is a vital element of their overall marketing strategy, and thus they need to put their wallet where the writing is.

Truth #3: Consistency is Key 
An effective content strategy is rooted in having a regular drumbeat for content marketing.  In order to be there when your customers and prospects are looking, you need to create a steady flow of content.  How much content is too much?  If you are measuring the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts, then this will be telling.  Don’t dilute your own content by publishing too much too soon… but do vary your content so as to minimize overlap.  Your content strategy should guide how often, when and where you publish your content to optimize your goals and objectives.  From a tactical perspective, this is where an editorial publishing calendar provides the rhythm for your content marketing efforts.

Truth #4: Relevance is the Real Deal 
Before you publish any content, two critical questions must be asked.  The first of these questions is “Who Cares?”.  Who cares about the content you are putting out there?  If you can answer this (with “my customers”, “my prospects”, “my partners”, etc.), then you must answer the second critical question: “Why?”.  Why is it important?  Does your content provide value, solve a problem, address an unmet need, or make someone laugh?  These two questions provide insight into who you create the content for and why that content is valuable to them.  If your content doesn’t pass this test, then who is it relevant to?  Don’t get into a bad habit of creating content for the sake of creating content.  Make it meaningful and by doing so, you can set yourself apart.  Remember, time and effort cost money… so make the most out of your content marketing by making it relevant to your target audience.

Truth #5: The Measurement of Success is in your Business Objectives 
A key element of a well-thought out content strategy is identifying your goals and objectives as they relate to specific content marketing efforts.  Is your goal to generate new leads, to increase the number of newsletter subscribers, to generate overall brand awareness, etc.?  Whatever your stated goals and objectives are, measuring to these will define your content marketing success.  We get too caught up in looking at numbers only… how many likes did my content produce, how many social shares did my content get, or how many retweets did my content generate, etc.  And while all of these are desired outcomes of your content marketing efforts, the real measurement of your success must be tied back to your business objectives.  Measuring against meaningful business goals is a much greater indicator of your content marketing success.  Don’t lose sight of them.

Truth #6: Authenticity Matters 
Your content marketing must reflect who your business is and what you stand for.  Every business has a brand personality.  Stay true to that in your content marketing efforts, but don’t be afraid to show the human side of your business.  Talk with your audience, not to them.  Be humorous, share your mistakes, and allow your content to tell the story of your brand in as many different forms as possible.  Of course, stay away from the hard-sell and instead enjoy the creative nature of content to engage with your audiences on a more intimate level.

Truth #7: Repurpose… Don’t Repeat 
Great content takes time to create.  Make your content work for you by repurposing it in different forms across multiple platforms.  Don’t make the common mistake of tying all your social channels together and posting the same content blindly across them all.  Instead, take the time to craft unique messages tailored to the platform, the audience and the desired objectives.  Rid yourself of the “one and done” notion of content marketing and use some creativity to get the most mileage you can from your stellar content.

Key Takeaways Great content marketing starts with a solid content strategy.  It takes time and effort and does cost money to do it effectively.  But with a consistent content drumbeat and the right mix of relevance, authenticity and creativity, your content marketing efforts can be a defining differentiator for your business.

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Darcy Schuller is the Chief Digital Marketing and Brand Strategist at Suvonni, an innovative boutique digital marketing agency in Chicago. As a leader in the digital marketing space, Darcy is passionate about helping clients build stronger brands through elevated customer engagement, social media marketing, content marketing and dynamic web experiences. Darcy is a respected marketing thought leader, speaker and consultant.