No question about it, effective content marketing is driven by stellar organization. This is exactly why so many companies today rely on third-party experts to help manage/execute their strategy.
Now you may be thinking, “I don’t even have a single person within my company dedicated to content marketing, let alone a paid, third-party professional.” I get it, but here’s the thing: chances are, your organization is part of the majority that use content marketing. Chances also are, you know you need to get more serious about your strategy if you wish to further progress. You know there’s only so much you can do with limited time, effort and funds. At some point, something’s got to give.
If you want to experience groundbreaking success, you’ll need to stop making content marketing something you do in your spare time. You’ll need to stop creating ideas on the fly with no proof of concept or insight into how those ideas will perform. You can’t keep approaching content marketing blind. Instead, you need to get tactical. You need to adopt a future-proof mentality. You need to shift gears so that your approach is built on guidelines rather than assumptions.
To this end, below are what I consider to be five core pillars of a well-organized, well-defined content marketing strategy. If you feel overwhelmed at the thought of getting organized, these are great places to start:
- Editorial calendar: Content creation was recently cited by CMI as the second greatest challenge that decreases content marketing success or keeps strategies stagnant. The thought of consistently producing original, share-worthy content can be daunting to say the least, which is exactly why an editorial calendar is so crucial. An editorial calendar not only helps keep track of all your brilliant ideas, but allows you to visualize what content you’re publishing and when to ensure a steady stream of varied topics. With an editorial calendar, you’ll never have to worry about being short on content or producing the same content weeks on end. It’s no wonder 62 percent of companies currently use editorial calendars for continued success.
A tip: If you use WordPress for Web hosting, be sure to take advantage of the platform’s embargoing tool. This allows you to schedule blogs to post at specific dates and times in the future. If you can prepare blogs in advance, this alleviates a lot of the stress of having to post two, three, etc. times a week.
- Social media calendar: What posts are you going to share on which social platforms, and when? How are you engaging with other leaders in your industry to establish thought leadership and brand reputability? A social media calendar uses the same format of an editorial calendar, but for your social content. My suggestion: leverage a social media management platform like Hootsuite or Buffer that allow you to manage multiple social networks, schedule content, and engage with your audience—all in one place for free. Currently, 56 percent of companies use some sort of social media calendar, according to CMI.
- Brand style/tone of voice guidelines: It’s imperative that your brand has a clear and consistent style/tone of voice. A strong voice establishes reputability and allows your organization to begin creating long-term relationships with customers based on their behaviors, preferences and traits. Simply creating a list of questions can help ensure you consistently and effectively communicate your core values to customers. You can also use these questions as a point of reference down the road (you’d be surprised just how easy it is to blur the lines of or fall away from your brand’s voice). If you’re not sure what questions to ask to shape your voice/tone, chances are you may need to work on your brand identity. Check out this blog to learn how to successfully build your brand identity.
- Buyer personas: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you’ll never be able to produce relevant content (or deliver it in a way that is meaningful to customers) unless you first know who your customers are. Without an idea of who your target audience is, your content marketing strategy will always feel unorganized. This blog I wrote last year does a good job explaining how to effectively create buyer personas to ensure your content delivers value to those who matter most to your brand.
- Social media guidelines: It’s one thing to know when you’re going to publish posts across various social platforms. It’s another thing entirely to know what you’re going to post. We’ve seen so many companies drop the ball when it comes to inappropriate or simply irrelevant social media content. By creating some sort of social media guidelines, you can ensure the content you post is vetted to some extent and follows some level of uniformity.
Ready to get organized? You’ve got this!