Marketers have lots of competing priorities, yet we can all agree that a properly engaged, well-executed content marketing strategy is worth the investment of our time and creativity. It helps you bring in more leads, nurture potential customers through the buying cycle, and ultimately close more deals. A great content marketing strategy shows customers you’re the subject matter expert they’re looking for, and educates them about your products and services — ultimately helping them make a purchasing decision.
Sometimes it can be hard to figure out where to start when crafting a content marketing strategy, so today we’re going to look at it through the lens of how you would start a brick-and-mortar business. Even if you’ve never started your own business, you’ve certainly done your fair share of shopping. So, let’s think about a business we’re all familiar with… a clothing store. New clothing stores don’t just open, there’s a lot of work that goes into them way before there’s even a door for customers to walk through. And that door happens because of a plan that’s executed upon. Let’s imagine we’re opening our own store.
Develop a business plan.
I have opened two coffee shops, and each one started with a business plan. Before I could pass a coffee across the counter, I had to put together a plan that included what I was planning to do, how much space I would need, and how many customers I’d need each day to pay the bills and turn a profit. To open a clothing store, your first move would be to create a business plan. You’ll need to figure out who your target market will be. You’ll think about that customer and what kind of clothes they’d like to wear — which brands, what accessories, at what price point? Only when you’ve truly gotten inside the mind of your customer can you move on the next steps, like what neighborhood you should open in. In other words, your content marketing strategy will start with your mission statement and vision, including a deep understanding of your audience.
Decide on a location.
The next thing you’d do is hone in on a location and sign a lease. You’re ideally going to do enough homework on the front end to make sure your location is convenient for your target audience, and that it’s going to be good long-term as the area grows. You’re going to make sure the spot you choose has room to grow as your business succeeds. For your content marketing, you’ll need to decide where you’ll deliver all your content. This might be on your own blog or website. It could also be industry websites, paid promotional channels, partnerships with like-minded brands, or social sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Don’t forget about emails, either to your own database or to a relevant industry newsletter. It’s important that you research and identify the best channels to interact with your target audience, and don’t spend resources putting yourself where your audience isn’t. This may vary depending on your industry, segment, or product offering.
Stock your store.
Once you’ve signed the lease on your new location, you’ll need to stock your space. For a clothing store, you’d stock the shelves with jeans, shirts, and shoes. You’d probably organize sections by audience. When it comes to your content, you’ll make sure you have content for all your target personas, whether it’s blog posts, ebooks or webinars. Stock your channels with great content, and gate the more in-depth, valuable pieces so you can collect data about your customers along their journey. We recommend that you provide a mix of gated and ungated content, with enough ungated content to show that you’re subject matter experts in your area, and gated content that provides extra value for those who are willing to engage with you on a deeper level. Once you’ve stocked your store, you’re ready to open!
Pull some reports.
Now that your doors are open, folks are coming into your store and loving your clothes. It’s time to see what’s selling, what’s not, and make some adjustments. Are pastels popular, or are plaids trending right now? If you don’t know, you could make costly mistakes. Reporting on your content is just as important. You’ll want to keep a close eye on your promotional channels to see where you are getting the most engagement. Consider running some tests on your email and landing page messaging, so that you know what’s resonating. Look at things like the open rates of your emails, how many leads you’re converting, and if people continue to engage with your follow up offers. This information helps guide future content decisions, whether it’s your next campaign or tweaking your current offers.
For more information on crafting a successful content marketing strategy, check out our Content Creation Guide.