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How to Develop a Solid Content Strategy for Your Brand

Posted 30 April 2015 9:00 AM by Paige Niedringhaus

Source: Flickr, Azian DuPree

Becoming a content marketing superstar on par with Redbull or Coca-Cola may seem like a pipe dream to some brands, but it is attainable. Even better, it’s not as hard as you think.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the hottest topic in the marketing world surrounds content — good content, engaging content, relevant content. Content, content, content.

Today, we’ve moved well beyond the “Mad Men” era of intrusive, in-your-face advertising. Modern consumers are in the driver’s seat. They dictate what content they’ll give their valuable time, energy and attention to. And in a digital world dominated by cat memes, listicles and baby pictures, brands are struggling to compete.

This three-part blog series will lay out how brands can build their own content strategies, understand what kinds of content they can create and then how to deftly wield that content in the modern digital and social arena.

How to Build a Content Strategy

So how do you, as a brand, develop a solid content strategy? What follows isn’t the easy part, but it’s critical — especially if you want your brand to do well. First, you need to ask yourself a two-part question: 1) What are your business objectives and 2) how can content help you achieve them? Are you seeking to:

  • Increase brand awareness or loyalty? 
  • Garner new customer trial and adoption? 
  • Achieve high rankings in organic search results?
  • Launch a new brand or product campaign?
  • Reposition your brand in the marketplace?

Once your larger goals are defined, it’s time to dig deeper and understand the broader landscape in which your brand resides. This includes the consumer decision journey. Take a close look at your consumers’ needs and — most importantly — how your brand’s content can meet them. For instance, if trial and adoption is a challenge, perhaps you create video content around your product’s 30-day money-back guarantee to lower the barrier to trial. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Before you create the content, you need to know what’s going on. So let’s shift our focus back to the consumer journey.

To identify consumer needs that your brand can meet, you’ll need to conduct a lot of research (like we said, this isn’t the easy part). This research includes but isn’t limited to:

  • An internal audit of existing content assets
  • Assessment of your brand’s areas of expertise
  • Platforms you use to share your brand message
  • The infrastructure in place to create content
  • An external audit of the competition and what they’re doing and saying
  • A broader look at the industry landscape as a whole
  • Social listening to gain consumer insights around your brand, your competition and the marketplace
  • Review and consideration of any historical data your brand may have (analytics reports, social sentiment, customer demographics, etc.) 
  • Finally (and most importantly), a consumer behavior audit to understand who your consumers are, their needs and what they care about — all of which helps map their consumer decision journey

Once you have your research in hand, you analyze it to find areas of opportunity where your brand — and your brand alone — can fill the void. We call this “finding the white space” — the area where you can give your consumers something that’s uniquely relevant and useful to them while simultaneously advancing your brand’s goals. Instead of rehashing what’s being done by your competitors or the industry, you figure out what they’re not doing — i.e., what consumer need they’re not meeting — and leverage it to your brand’s advantage.

In summary, we now have:

  • Defined business objectives
  • Established an understanding of what our audience needs and cares about 
  • Conducted research on our brand, our competitors and the industry as a whole
  • Identified white space content opportunities and what need our content can solve for consumers

Putting it into practice

The only true way to measure the success of your content is to create, test and optimize it. 

Content strategy is a process of continuing to optimize and learn and improve the next time. Analyzing the data and results will dictate what you do next.

Great — seems simple enough, right? You understand your brand, your consumers and your content goals. You have your high-level strategy in place, and you’re ready to start creating content to stand out in the digital world. So what kind of content do you actually make to engage your audience? For the answer to this question, stay tuned for my next blog, where I lay out how to use your newfound strategy to create the right kind of content for your brand.

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