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Content strategy is a hugely important part of business growth. Interruptive advertising is having less of an impact while costing more money. Engaging customers and prospects through content is the way a business can improve its bottom line in today’s economy.

Unfortunately, many businesses jump headfirst into content creation without defining a strategy. Others take someone else’s strategy and assume it will work well in their industry. Both of these approaches are serious mistakes. At best, you’ll waste money. At worst, your leadership will give up on content altogether due to the mess and you’ll have a hard time getting them to try again.

To avoid these outcomes, it’s important to ask some key questions before committing to a content strategy for your business. These seven questions are vital if you want your strategy to succeed.

1.     Who is Your Company? With content, you will be creating a public face for your company. It’s important that this public face align with your company’s persona and values. If you project a rebel image, your blog shouldn’t be straight-laced. If you have a silly, fun feel, you want to make sure your social media presence reflects that. Projecting a cohesive image gives a clear picture to your prospects and engages the right audiences.

2.     Who are Your Stakeholders? Your stakeholders are the folks who are directly invested in your outcome. These will include the department funding the endeavor, the folks working on the content strategy, and usually the marketing or sales department. These are the folks you need to impress. Make sure you know their definition of success, and aim your strategy in that direction. When you do, you’ll excite the right people and maintain the support for your project.

3.     Where is the Company Now, and Where Should it be? Goal setting is a very important step before committing to a content strategy. Where is the company now in terms of exposure, sales, and brand recognition? What are you hoping to achieve by adding content strategy to the mix? Make sure your stakeholders are involved so you know what they want to see. Be specific. ‘Improve sales’ is tough to prove. ‘Grow sales by 1,000 units a month’ is measurable and your victory will be obvious.

4.     What’s Your Budget? The tough part about a content budget is that it may be shared or controlled by another department, such as marketing. In addition, there may be timeframes or goals attached to the funding. Be aware of all these factors when creating your content strategy.

5.     What’s Your Staff? Social media is a great place to engage but it takes a lot of time. If you don’t have the manpower to fuel and maintain a 4-platform strategy, don’t do it. A partial, undermanned social media presence is more damaging than it is helpful. Figure out how much time you have in staff hours, and limit your scope accordingly.

6.     Who and Where are Your Customers? Too many companies try strategies that worked for others, rather than what will work for them. Before you start on a content marketing strategy, make sure that you are planning to be where your customers and prospects already hang out. Do they use social media? What platforms? Do they read blogs? What articles do they share?  What about specialized message boards or online magazines? Keep in mind that there’s more to content than blogging and Facebook. Collecting this information will help you understand how to be effective with your limited hours and dollars.

7.     What Content Already Exists? Before starting a content sharing strategy, it’s important to take stock of what content your company has already created. Think broadly – this can be anything from FAQ’s and marketing brochures to already created websites or blogs. This existing content can be a great boon to a new content strategy, as you can simply repurpose it for your launch. In addition, old product descriptions or even customer service questions can be a goldmine of new content ideas.  

As you can see, a content plan can’t simply be picked off a list and jumped into. However, with the right planning and answers to these seven questions, you’ll be primed to commit to a great content strategy that meets your goals and impresses your stakeholders.

What other questions should be asked as you consider content strategy? Let me know in the comments!

Anna

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