Marketers with a documented content marketing strategy are far more likely to consider themselves effective than those that don’t. The difference is 66 percent versus 11 percent according to the Content Marketing Institute’s B2B Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report.
The reverse of this is also true: a massive 84 percent of marketers who say they are ineffective at content marketing said they have no documented strategy. The figures alone should be a compelling enough reason to document your own content marketing strategy but there are a number of other important benefits.
A better understanding of the firm’s overall perception
Content marketing is nothing new for B2B firms, the majority of which have been producing blogs, articles, newsletters, white papers and research reports for many years. But most of these publications have been produced without a clear knowledge of where they fit into the bigger picture.
Much of the content created within individual sector or service groups is only intended for specific clients, but once published it will come to represent the firm as a whole.
The process of developing a content marketing strategy is therefore key to managing and directing the overall perception of your firm. It is also a perfect opportunity to revisit your broader business objectives, audience needs and competitive strengths.
Control over the publishing process
Any formal content marketing strategy should result in a content marketing programme or plan, detailing what content will be created over the course of an annual cycle.
The plan will enable you to take control over content creation—proactively managing the content that should be created rather than reacting to the content that could be created.
Clarity on overall objectives, resource and schedule make it much easier to address questions such as the subject matter for an upcoming blog post, the frequency of your newsletters or a partner’s request for a new brochure.
A focal point for communication
Working through the strategy will allow you to solicit buy-in from your management team and ensure that you fully meet with their requirements.
Having a clear plan will enable you to communicate once to all those that are involved in the process, from internal personnel through to any external content marketing, PR or events management agencies and ensure that the content works as hard as it can for you.
It will also ensure that your content tells a consistent and compelling story—you simply can’t connect the dots if content exists in silos and no one has visibility to what other parts of the firm are doing.
A framework for review
Your content marketing programme should encompass the next 12 months, giving you the opportunity to look ahead and more coherently shape your messaging. But it should not be cast in stone.
Revisit your plan regularly and review it quarterly to ensure that you meet any new developments as they occur. There will doubtless be occasions when you want to change course, but the framework will give you direction and prevent panic decisions.
Your content marketing strategy will be no crystal ball. But it should allow you to set the direction, resource effectively, monitor progress against goals and test new channels.
Common reasons for not having a documented content marketing strategy (and why they are wrong)
- A content marketing strategy is just for the big firms Content marketing strategy is generally more developed in larger firms, with a more institutionalised process for marketing strategy development and greater in-house resources. But the reason to have a strategy is to map out the decisions you have made to determine the future success of the firm. All firms, irrespective of size, will find that of value.
- We have a flexible approach to marcomms and don’t need a strategy Flexibility is obviously a key ingredient for success, but that is different to being pulled this way and that from different areas in the business. If you want to make an impact and manage your growth, you need a strategic direction and a plan to get there. That way you can measure any new opportunities against that plan and give coherent reasons for your decisions.
- I don’t have the time to prepare a content marketing strategy This is probably the biggest single reason for firm’s inaction. But think about this. A content marketing strategy will help you to understand your objectives, target audience and competitors better. It will give shape to a plan that will help make you and your firm look good. There are so many messages in the market, so much content, so much noise. Doing nothing is no longer an option. If you are still struggling, or would like a second opinion, drop me a line.