Content marketing plan on grid paper
Building an Effective Content Strategy (Part 4: Content Marketing)
Tuesday, May 10, 2016 | Greg Kihlström

This is part four of a six-part series that provides the building blocks to create an effective content strategy, a critical piece of marketing for businesses of all kinds. Having an effective content strategy and content marketing plan can yield great benefits that reach audiences you might not otherwise reach.

To recap, content strategy is not just about a placing content on a single channel. An effective content strategy takes all of your marketing and communications channels into account and ties them to business-level goals using meaningful measurements that help you calculate your ROI.

We can split an effective content strategy into 5 pieces:

  1. Strategy

  2. Content Creation

  3. Content Marketing

  4. Content Management

  5. Measurement

In the last article, we discussed the second step required in creating a successful content strategy: Content Creation. Once we have a strategy and marketing plan defined, we need to create the pieces that will ultimately be used in our marketing efforts. The key to being successful in your content creation efforts is to find methods that allow the items you generate to be modular, flexible, consistent, and able to be repurposed in a variety of ways across a variety of mediums. A “less is more” approach to individual pieces can work well for smaller organizations or even larger organizations with small marketing and creative teams.

In this article, we’re going talk about the next step in the process: Content Marketing. With your plan in place and great creative and other content assets in place, you are now ready for the execution phase of your content marketing strategy.

Content Marketing

The channels you use and the methods used to reach your audiences will vary widely depending on the type of organization you are, of course. This part of the process is where all your planning and creation efforts get to see the light of day and you get to start seeing how your audiences across channels respond to it. In other words, for marketers, this is a very exciting time as your plan is in market!

Let’s start with a definition of content marketing from our friends at the Content Marketing Institute:

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 is comparable to what media companies do as their core business, except that in place of paid content or sponsorship as a measure of success, brands define success by ultimately selling more products or services.

What we have then, is a need to implement our marketing plan using the assets we developed during the content creation stage which precedes this one. As the definition in the paragraph above states, we are doing the equivalent of finding paid media outlets, and instead finding the best channels on which to distribute our content. If we prepared an effective strategy, the “content marketing” portion of our content strategy should be pretty straightforward.

Essentially, we are executing our content marketing strategy and plan at this point in the process. Using our editorial calendar, we are placing the content we’ve created and ensuring the right type of assets are placed at the right time and in the right place.

You might also be wondering if it’s too late to change our strategy at this point. What if an unbelievable opportunity arises, or much worse, what if something we had been planning on happening falls through? While we don’t want to make a wholesale change to our strategy before we can measure its effectiveness, many times there are forces outside our control, or unexpected opportunities that may present themselves long after a plan is created.

The short answer to this question is to proceed cautiously, but to not pass up a good opportunity. You should also do your best to find an alternative “next best” solution if something you were counting on falls through. Make sure that the choices you make are strategic and fall according to your overall goals and objectives, but also remember that at the end of the day, you need to be successful and get the results you desire.

It’s also important to keep the next two steps in mind as we are in this phase:

  1. Content Management. Make sure that you have a plan to keep track of all of the assets you have created and are placing according to your strategy and plan. These various pieces of content can quickly add up when you consider the different file formats, versions and other variations you may need to create.

  2. Measurement. It probably goes without saying, but make sure that you have a plan to measure everything you do. This goes well beyond content marketing of course, but in the context of your content marketing, make sure you are intentional about the placement of your content, and your plans to track its success. This is where things like tracking URLs come in handy, and where your content strategy and the research you do while planning your editorial calendar pay off.

Conclusion

As the old saying goes, “measure twice, cut once.” By properly preparing an effective initial content strategy and creating unique assets to market during the content creation phase, our job will be made much easier as we execute our content marketing plan.

Next Up: Content Management

Now that we’ve discussed your content planning, creation, and marketing, we need to make sure we know how we’re going to keep track of all the assets we’re coordinating. How do you organize them all and categorize them in a way that is easy for both your external and internal audiences to use most effectively?

While a website content management system (CMS) does this for your web-based content, there are many other types of assets you will be creating as part of your content strategy. Your will need the proper tools to keep track of what you have so that you can be nimble as a marketing team and provide audiences with what they need, where they need it.

About the Series

Within this series, we will take a deeper dive into each of the five parts necessary to achieve a successful content strategy. This high level overview of the pieces that make up a successful content strategy will serve as a useful guide to be successful in your efforts.

Also, remember that even if you are mid-way through a set of content marketing efforts, it never hurts to re-evaluate how you got where you are. Sometimes it doesn’t require revisiting the starting point to find a step in the process you might have rushed through. By simply reviewing your planning and creation efforts, you might be able to make a significant improvement to an effort that is currently underway.

Until next time, may you be intentional, strategic, and ultimately successful in all your marketing efforts.

Category - Strategy