It’s a content world we’re living in these days. We’re working in it, reading in it, shopping in it and learning in it. But while nearly every company around is pumping out content, only a handful of them are really capitalizing on its potential. What they’re missing is a consistent content strategy that connects the truths behind their brand and their audience.

If your content marketing determines the tools you use to move customers through your sales funnel, then your content strategy decides what those tools should look like. It’s a bridge between the brand you want to be and the content marketing efforts you’ll use to get there. It’s a personal statement for your organization that uses your core brand identity to shape how you communicate with your customers and guides your creative thinking and execution.

Simply put, your content strategy is all about telling a story in the way your content looks, feels and is shared.

So, Who Are You?

Creating a content strategy is an opportunity to take a big-picture look at who you are as an organization right now, and how you want to be perceived in the future. Think beyond numbers and analytics and consider the personal traits of your brand. Set some goals, but make it about more than just conversions and leads.

  • How would your company say hello?
  • What kind of tone and voice do you speak with?  
  • Where would you hang out, both online and in the real world?
  • What beyond your business makes you different?

Answering questions like these can give a complete understanding of what your company means to your customers. It’s also a chance to have a bit of fun in how you think and talk about what you do.

What’s Working and What’s Not

Odds are you’re already engaged in some type of content marketing. Whether it’s the content on your website, from newsletter sign up forms to product descriptions, or your posts on social media, you’ll want to take stock of what you’re already doing. By examining how your content has performed so far you can understand what your customers are already interested in.

This too is about more than just the numbers. Think about how your content looks and feels, and how your customers might interact with it. Is your site properly set up for mobile? Does the content you’re producing visually match the brand story you're telling? Visual content is more important than ever, with sites like Instagram, Youtube and Facebook all using pictures and videos to help people discover and connect with brands.

The goal here is to make sure all of this content, and all the content you make moving forward, has a clear, consistent and compelling story to share with your customers. It should convey a message in both the way it looks, and the way it’s written.

Speaking Their Language

Research is key to any content strategy. Knowing who your customers are in the real world lets you connect with them in a genuine way, sharing things they care about and talking in terms they can relate to. You’ll, of course, want to consider things like age, gender, and location, but you’ll also want to dive a little deeper into who they are as people.

  • What channels do they use to communicate?
  • What are they interested in and what makes them unique?
  • What other companies are they interested in?
  • What are their pain points?

Knowing your audience, and what they care about, is a crucial piece in deciding how and when you’ll be telling your story. The content itself will help you convert your leads, but the way you present it should be guided by your content strategy and your understanding of your audience.

Get it down on paper

You’ve done the thinking, the analytical heavy lifting, and the soul-searching to know who you want to be. Now, it’s time to write it all down! This last piece might seem self-explanatory, but it’s also the most important. Getting your content strategy down on paper means that you and your team will always have a reference point when creating content. It’s the north star of your creative executions.

It doesn’t have to be long or packed full of statistics and methodology. In fact, it’s better if it’s not. You want this document to be concise and from the soul. It might be inspirational, or more direct, but as long as it communicates who you are as a brand, the audiences you want to reach, and how you want to reach them, then you’ve done your job. Now get out there share your story with the world!

-Spencer Knowles

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