You just need the answer to these five questions to start building your content strategy:
- Why do you want to create content?
- What type of content should you create?
- When should you post content that you have developed?
- Where should you post the content?
- What is the impact of your content sharing?
But when you begin to answer each of these, you will need to answer further questions. I am not trying to scare you. Just a heads up that you need to set aside time and effort to do this.
I am outlining the strategy I have used over the years to develop a content strategy for my clients. Read it once to get an overview. Then start working on it from the beginning.
1. Set SMART goals
Setting goals makes it easier to understand what you actually want out of your strategy. And do not think that any goal is too small to be documented in the content strategy. As long as it is aligned with your overall business goal, it should find a place in your content strategy.
The only thing that you need to take care of while setting goals is that they should be SMART. That is, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. For example, your goal could be:
- One million website visitors in 6 months.
- 1000 email subscribers.
- Converting a minimum of 50 visitors every month.
- Revenue of USD 1000 in the first month.
- Rank #1 for a given keyword within six months.
- Number of comments or likes.
2. Establish benchmarks for your goals
The goal that you set must be for a specified time frame, like the start and finish lines of a race. However, to know that you are moving in the right direction, you need to establish benchmarks against which you can regularly test each of your goals.
For example, your goal is to have 1 million website visitors in 6 months, unique page views could be a benchmark. Similarly, some of your benchmarks could be:
- Conversion rate
- Referral rate
- Net revenue
- Number of likes for social media post
- Increase in number of followers
3. Who is your audience and where they are found
Understanding the audience for whom you are creating the content is very important. This will help you in adopting the right tone and voice for your content. As also the social media channel that you should use. Some of the details I try to put for audience persona include:
- Demographic details like age and gender.
- How much do they earn?
- What is their educational qualification?
- Do they own a vehicle? What type of vehicle is it?
- What are their shopping preferences? Do they prefer visiting a mall or the local market?
- Are they religious?
- Do they exercise? What type of exercise do they prefer?
- What is their happiness quotient?
- What are their problems?
- Which of their problems can you solve?
These are only a handful of the questions that must be answered to draw your audience’s profile/persona.
If you are struggling to visualize your ideal client, think of an existing or past client whom you find especially delightful to work with. Or think of people who would make your ideal client. Now call them up and talk with them to find out their pain points.
Once you understand your audience’s persona, you will be able to decide the social media channels where they are most active. And, you can plan your social media marketing strategy accordingly.
4. Determine type of content to produce
When people think of content marketing, they think of blogs. However, content marketing is much more than that. Of course, blogs are the backbone of any content strategy, but other types of content need to be produced:
- Social media content
- Case studies
- Email campaigns
These are but a few of the types of content that form part of the content marketing strategy. Depending upon your product or service and the audience you are trying to target, you would like to mix and match 3 to 4 types of content to begin with.
5. Create a content calendar
After deciding on the content you need to produce, you need to create a content calendar. Content calendar details which piece of content you are going to post on which channel, and when. You can do this on a piece of paper or use any software tool.
I like to use spreadsheets because they make it easier to track the KPIs. You can use any spreadsheet. This screenshot here shows what my Excel sheet looks like.
If you are doing this for a client, you need not share the boring Excel sheet. Download some fancy calendar template, transfer everything there and share.
6. Document the content strategy
This is the most important part of the content strategy you are developing for your small business. You must document it somewhere. Whether you use a software tool like or just a notebook, having it written down is essential. Research has shown that when the strategy is documented, you are more likely to stick to it and work on it as per schedule.
For me, the good old pen and paper and Microsoft Excel work fine. Let me tell you how I do it.
First, I draw the persona of my ideal audience and list out the online worlds they haunt in my notebook. Then I created the content calendar. Finally, I put the columns for measuring benchmarks, and I am done.
7. Develop the content
Now that you know what type of content you need to have for each day of the month, you need to develop the content. Developing the content is the most important cog of the whole content marketing wheel because unless you have quality content, no amount of marketing will do the trick. If you are developing your own content, great, if you want to hire someone, take care to look at their samples and references from past clients before hiring.
Never compromise on the quality of content because it is the basis on which the whole pyramid would be built.
8. Spread the word on social media
If you are serious about marketing, 80% of your effort should go into marketing. Share your content on social media channels and engage with your audience there. As you can see from my content calendar (spreadsheet), you need to share your older content as well. Not just the latest ones. You cannot expect to reach your intended audience by posting just once and then forgetting. You have to keep sharing again and again.
If you love a bit of variety, try different times of the day and different days of the week to post on any social media channel and compare the traction you get!!
9. Measure the performance
Fill in the benchmark figures or KPIs in your content strategy sheet at least once a week. If you do this less frequently, you will not be able to watch out for trends sooner. And if you are more frequent, it shows you are getting obsessed with numbers. Don’t go down that path. You will feel euphoric or disheartened all the time and stress yourself out.
Don’t get disheartened by low engagement in the beginning. Be regular and show genuine interest in your audience and you are bound to succeed. You must give any channel, be it your website or your social media channels are podcasts or videos YouTube channels, you need to be consistent for anywhere between 3 to 9 months to start seeing the numbers.
Yes, content marketing is a long-haul game, but with small wins on the way too. Like more traffic, more engagement and more business.
10. What’s next?
Do what we have discussed till now, and keep repeating. For every piece of content that you create, every month. Also, remember that the strategy is not etched in stone, it can be changed whenever required.As you start recording the numbers for your KPIs, you will realize that some types of content do much better than others.
Or some times of the week are better for engaging on some channel. Makes changes in your strategy as you learn from experience.
Over to You
Do you have a content marketing strategy? Is it documented? If no, start documenting it. If yes, are you following it diligently? What prevents you from sticking to your strategy?
Let us know in the comments and we might be able to help!!