Content marketing is one digital tool that lives up to the hype. It’s an indispensable way to reach buyers throughout the purchase process, develop relationships with them and keep your brand top-of-mind as a valuable information source.
SmartBrief’s recent study with the Content Marketing Institute shows that buyers — whether they are B2B companies or consumers — are researching products and seeking information before they make connections with a brand. And yet, most marketers don’t have a written strategy for managing their custom content. A separate CMI survey found that just 46% of marketers had such an action plan, even though 92% of marketers see content as a business asset.
SmartBrief has worked with hundreds of brands on content-marketing programs ranging from blog posts and special reports to white papers and webinars. Here’s what we know for sure: All content should start with a strong understanding of your audiences and their challenges.
That means having a strategy before you begin. Here’s how to build one.
Know your buyer
Before embarking on a content marketing project, we help clients develop a content-marketing mission statement. Much like a company mission statement that guides all programs big and small, a content-marketing mission statement will serve as your compass as you produce content or develop strategy.
The first step is getting to know the target buyer. Here’s what to ask:
- Who is your target buyer?
- In what kind of company or industry do they work?
- What are their characteristics? Age? Job title/role?
- What does a typical day look like?
- What are their priority initiatives?
- What are the typical challenges they face?
- Where is the gap in their needs and wants, beyond your products and services?
- Where are they in the purchasing funnel?
- Why should they care about you?
The questions go from broad to very specific, allowing marketers to really put themselves in the position of their target buyer.
In fact, we suggest that marketers find a picture of someone who fits that profile and give them a name. Keeping that photo around when planning and executing content strategy is a great way to make sure that the end product is valuable to the right people.
If it isn’t easy to answer these questions, go to the source: Talk to your customers about the factors that play a role in their decision making.
Identify your mission
Once your buyer is clear, it’s time to dig into your mission statement. Ask:
- What is our greatest challenge?
- What is our goal?
- What target audience can help achieve this goal?
- What industry trends are influencing your industry and clients?
- What valuable content (separate from our products and services) can we deliver to this audience?
- What makes our content and its delivery different from others?
Use your answers to craft your mission statement, and let it guide as you embark on future content-marketing projects.
Need more help? Download these worksheets to take back to your team and strategize.
Ambreen Ali is an editor at SmartBrief.