Hmm, content, pretty much the golden child in marketing. Nowadays, there isn’t a single company advertising strategy that doesn’t have content coming out as the big Hollywood star, with every other department lining up like paparazzi, trying to see what happens next.
Content is nothing like the wild child customer services, not because it couldn’t, but rather because it just can’t go wrong. Content is content. It speaks about everything you could think of and more. B2B content, on the other hand, is still looking for a good outfit. Why? Because anyone can write. B2B content can take as many forms and shapes as the number of writers who decide to share their opinions.
However, be it as it may, when putting together a content marketing strategy, you need to abide by certain rules. Otherwise, what would the purpose of planning be if not to structure, organize and of course, measure?
The good news is that these rules are not exactly set in stone. You can interpret them in a manner you find appropriate for your business. Because just as you are making huge efforts to personalize your entire work for your customers and make their journey as facile and entertaining as possible, you need to customize your content to speak about your company.
Hopefully, the following pieces of advice will help you acquire a better understanding of the essential facts in the actual planning of a content strategy.
Content is still king, no matter who we or you or anyone feels about it.
Key Features of a Solid Content Marketing Strategy
1Content is essential. We promise!
You might have heard that content is losing power. You might have heard that in the B2B world, actions speak louder than words. You might have even heard that content is no longer the golden child. Wrong. If you have heard these phrases, please try to forget them, because, frankly, the data gathered from our research points us in the completely opposite direction
According to a research made by the Content Marketing Institute1, in 2018, 91% of B2B businesses are making use of content marketing strategies. While they may be in different stages, some planning on using this strategy, whereas others have already put the plan in action, the reality is that content is still part of their future growth plans. So, the question here is where you want to place your business, in the 91% of the businesses that have said yes or in the 9% that have said no?
Now, here is something else you might want to think about. Isn’t the majority that sets trends? The fact of the matter is that trend is dictated by the majority which is why you want to be in the bigger boat. Always.
The bottom line: Content is essential.
2Who is your audience exactly?
Content needs to be perceived as a voice. It is up to you, however, to define whose voice it is. Is it yours, the company or your customers’ voice? Surely you agree that there needs to be a mixture of some kind. You need to talk to your audience, your customers, in a language they can understand and relate to. At the same time, you need to present the ideals your business stands for.
And one more thing. When saying “customers”, do we mean that one ideal customer or several types? Should you make content for just one buyer persona or multiple ones? In your overall content marketing strategy, you need to address all your customers, not just one category. You can structure your content looking at channels, content forms, campaigns, and so on. However, be prepared to offer multiple content types, not just the general type that will constantly run on your website as well as everywhere else.
Be prepared for content variables.
3Just the right approach
Yes, we’ve said it. Content needs to have multiple forms. It can be cheeky, professional, fun-loving and so on. Depending on the audience it is created for, content can take up as many forms as necessary.
However, what it must have in all its variants, is the right approach. If you are going to make content a tool to allow you to grow online in a stable manner, you need to figure out what the right approach is and maintain it throughout your entire strategy.
This is when your product comes very much in handy. Think of its purpose. Why are you selling it anyway, apart from making a profit, getting really rich and spending the rest of your life in complete comfort and peace? There must be something else. Right, you have identified a need, a problem your customers were faced with and you have the solution. That’s your approach.
You are not selling products, you are selling solutions.
4The right channels, the right format
It’s all about being right, right? Indeed. You want to get things right from the very beginning because the manner in which you present yourself sets a precedent. It sets the ground for your later development as a brand.
Once again, it is still your audience that dictates both these aspects. Let’s say you are a big video enthusiast, but you are selling a platform where users leave book reviews. So, your audience is obviously keen on reading. Therefore, we ask you, in this particular situation, would videos be the right format for your content?
When thinking about both format and channels, you need to consider your audience, your long-term goals and consider your solution. Use formats such as white papers, ebooks, video corners to educate your customers, blog posts to inform of various changes, together with social media posts. The options come in a large number. You simply need to consider your options and decide which options fit best.
Express your position through channel and format.
5The journey to identify topics
It’s never easy to find relevant topics. From one point one, it turns into a real struggle. You constantly need to be maintain your tone of voice, your approach and evidently, the topic you select. The best thing you could is to create a content calendar and by studying your audience you could consider what interests them in a direct fashion. Perhaps you could consider discussing their problems and coming up with actual solutions, provided of course by your tool.
However, remember to leave room for unpredictable events. Maybe an update you had not planned needs to be done. Or a change within your company, new partnerships. Whatever happens, happens, but make sure you have the time and room to write about it.
Plan the predictable, handle the unpredictable.
Planning your content strategy
Planning a strategy, this or any other is a rather personal affair that needs to be handled by the brains of the company. Knowing exactly what the long-term goals are will enable you to structure a plan from which your company could have only to gain.
To make sure that your strategy is actually playing for the big gain, you could consider the SMART goals when starting to work on it. The SMART goals are focused on answering certain questions.
What am I trying to achieve here?
When do I want it?
How do I want it?
Who is responsible?
Why do I want it?
What are my limitations?
Additionally, the SMART goals2 are above all else, measurable. That’s why they are so appealing to the B2B world. Use them in creating your strategy.
In this section of your planning, you need to focus on what objectives need to be met. Consider your long-term goals, as well as your short-term ones. It’s not enough to say that you want to grow at a global level. You want to make sure that while you fulfill that goal, you also focus on short-term ones such as growing on a certain keyword or improving your review status on dedicated platforms. The idea is to combine different goals and turning the strategy into something that is as specific as possible. Attack your goal on all levels.
Also, try to analyze goals before putting them on paper. For instance, let’s say that you are developing a freelance platform and you want to compete on other keywords, like email marketing. That market offers you multiple development opportunities. The only problem is that you don’t actually offer that feature, not now, not ever. If this is the case, there is absolutely no reason why you should go ahead with this plan and advertise your business in this direction. Now, if you are thinking about implementing such a feature, then building the hype could be of help. So, why not?
Goals need to be measurable. As you can imagine simply because you have the SMART image in your head it doesn’t automatically give your goals a completely new form. It doesn’t make them measurable all of a sudden. It still depends on you to make them measurable. How? Pretty simple actually. Set milestones, deadlines.
For instance, if your goal is to increase sales, add a date up until this has to happen. And try to make a step further. When adding goals make sure you make them specific. For instance, a suitable goal that is specific and measurable would sound something like, I want to increase sales (specific) by 30% until the 1st of July (measurable).
Now, here we discuss method. First, you need to consider your options in terms of tools. Do you have a blog, social media channels? How about a web and video design crew? Can you operate in all content forms? Because they are quite a lot. It’s not just blog posts and landing pages we are talking about. So, you might want to think about channel distribution before anything else.
Secondly, who will be in charge of the entire planning? Who will make sure that it will be adequately put to use? Because the same person who will be in charge of your strategy should also be the one who verifies the status and the development, making decisions that could affect the manner in which the strategy develops further on.
And yes, this is the biggest, most important point in your strategy. Relevancy is key to successful campaigns, in all industries. However, how can you tell if the content is relevant? Well, you look at buyer personas. That’s your instrument to measure relevance. And using buyer personas you will be able to choose the right channel as well as the appropriate form.
Also, this test allows you to see if the goal you have set for yourself is, in fact, one that will be accomplished. You could very well find out, as a result of analyzing the buyer personas profiles you have made that the goals you are thinking of are not the same with the expectations of your customers. Therefore, they cannot be met.
This is where you measure time.
Have you set a deadline?
If you have, where are you situated considering that deadline?
Are there real chances to accomplish your goals?
This point is to be used later on in the process because it allows you to measure your progress and efficiency.