The content strategy defines the goals that support the business. I use the SMART goal definition to support marketing planning. This model helps to record the goal of marketing in a clear and understandable way: the goal can be defined as increasing sales or awareness, but these are not concrete goals enough. It would be easier to do and monitor performance if the goal was further defined. “We want to increase our monthly sales by $10,000 over the next 12 months” is already a much more specific goal with a dollar-denominated growth target. Based on this, a realistic budget can be defined for the implementation of marketing.
In marketing, the challenge is too general target groups: for example, “all Italians who like tourism” is too broad and vague. As a result, communication to the general public does not touch anyone and does not evoke identifiable feelings.
The content strategy defines the target groups to be targeted. The customer personality is a description of the desired “dream customer”. Based on this, the company has an understanding of customer challenges, information needs, and things that inspire customers. Also, important information is perspectives that frustrate and reflect on customers and are therefore a barrier to buying.
“The content strategy, therefore, takes a stand on what the content is aimed at and who the content is intended to achieve, and how the content marketing is carried out”, says the director of a prestigious digital marketing agency.
Content production planning
Marketing is often thought of as channel-based, with a presence on different social media channels taking on a big role and the importance of content relevant to the customer being given little attention. I use the image below to support marketing planning and to map the initial situation of a client company. Does the company have content in addition to product information to reach a new customer, arouse interest, provide comparative information or competitive advantages to support the decision, or experiences shared by other customers to support the recommendation?
Every company is different, so content marketing practices can be very different: Company X needs a lot of content and answers to frequently asked questions from customers, while Company B may need to build customer paths through target groups or content themes. Channels don’t matter yet, but the most important thing is to find the right kind of messages and content from the customer’s perspective.
The planning and prioritization of content are influenced by the company’s business and strategy goals as well as the company’s services and products. At this stage, it is a good idea to look at the average time taken by the target group to make a purchase decision and the customers’ experiences of the different stages of the purchase. How do sales and purchases end up? Does the business sell directly online or do you need to contact sales or a customer service representative to make a purchase?
Once the customer’s journey has been modelled through information needs, a content plan can be implemented. If a company has extensive access to content on a website, content marketing can get started quickly. Often, existing content can be edited and recycled for publication. Starting content marketing from scratch requires planning and time to create content in the first place.
Content is never disposable: In the initial phase, it is good to identify, for example, annual recurring trends. Content can be created in different forms on the same topic and there is no need to reinvent ideas/topics. The most important thing is to create an understanding of the customer’s way of working and a plan as a basis for content production so that marketing communications become an integral whole.
Content marketing approach
How can all this be managed? The content marketing approach does not adapt to traditional annual planning: it is a good idea to make choices about content themes and events for the coming year, after which content marketing should be planned on a monthly basis (large entities semi-annually) and content production, progress and results monitored on a monthly and weekly basis.
As you may already notice, content marketing is a new way of doing things. It also requires reflection on the responsibilities of the marketing team, clear leadership, and the phased introduction of content marketing. The content marketing team must work closely together and with different stakeholders to be able to take into account changes and current trends in everyday operations.