Effective Content Marketing: How to Create a Strategy

Wendy Kelly
Oct 29, 2015

Creating your own #content marketing is possible. At least in theory.

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Creating your own content marketing is possible. At least in theory. 

Before I go too far outlining how to do it, I'll link to this caveat:  There are good people who think you should not DIY this stuff

And, further to that, if you are going to contract a content marketing team, you should understand a bit about what they do, so that you can fully appreciate what you are getting.

Content Marketing Strategy

Knowing what you want and how to get there is usually a good idea. And so, with those parameters set, let's begin:

What is Content?

First, let's figure out what we're talking about here. Content is all the stuff on your website that your audience can see. That's all the words, video, images, buttons, forms - everything. Potentially a lot of stuff.

More and more, too, content leaks out of your website into the wider social media world via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. That stuff is also your content.

Your Website is Like a Dynamic Piece of Paper

Kind of. Let's start there, though. You decide you need to have an online presence. Great. You get a domain name, hosting, and you install a CMS like Umbraco or WordPress. 

Now, when I say that your website is like a dynamic piece of paper, I should note that bigger brands use that dynamic piece of paper to do all sorts of post-modern origami

That "piece of paper" metaphor wears a little thin when you're looking at sites like  Anthropologie, but I think it'll still work as a base.

You Can Start Scribbling With Crayons...

...or you can plan out what you are going to do on that paper. Your choice. Let's go back a few years and think about the idea of designing a brochure. People still do this I believe. Let's say you wanted a brochure. 

Sure, you could grab a few pieces of 8 1/2 X 11 inch paper and start writing/drawing away. No one's stopping you. 

Consider Your ROI

I'd like to suggest, though, that spending a bit of time planning what you want to write, for whom, and why might help you with your results.

Heck, honestly, if you don't start there, you'll have no idea whether you reached your goals because you don't have any. 

Back to the Website

So, if we go back to the website you have just created, you can effectively just start typing away and you're off to the races. Let's review some popular methods of content marketing:

  • Buy a theme and throw in some "lorem ipsum" that you'll fill in with "content" later.
  • Tell yourself that you will write it all as you go.
  • Figure that if you're using a CMS (content management system) you're golden. The stuff practically writes itself.
  • Hire a copywriter at the last minute.

You know, maybe part of the problem is that acronym - CMS - It's called a content management system, so there's maybe this underlying feeling that it should somehow be, well, managing your content. Well, just like anything, its output is only as good as its input.

And let me speak a bit to that last one: Hire a copywriter at the last minute.

I cannot tell you how many times this has been me. I rarely say this out loud, but I probably should say it more often. Nothing good happens at the last minute. 

A solid content strategy happens from the very beginning of the design process, in tandem with the entire team. At the very minimum a content strategist and graphic designer working together.

DIY - Do You Really Want to Go There?

Doing your own content strategy works, but you must commit yourself to the process from the beginning. What you need to do, at a minimum, is the following:

Ask questions about content, right from the start.

  • Start with research. Both qualitative and quantitative, and figuring out who your audience is, what language they use, what they want, and how you can best deliver that to them. Take the time to make personas for each audience segment.
  • From the research, figure out your themes and messaging. Write your positioning statement that will guide your strategy.
  • Conduct a content audit. Figure out what you need.
  • Once you know what you need, write an actual plan that dictates how you will get that content. Who will create it, when, etc.
  • Create an editorial calendar, including social media.
  • Create or help create wireframes (if you're lucky enough to have them!) and sitemaps.
  • Make a style guide. Man, will this solve problems before they happen! Include voice, lexicon, and policies for SEO, linking and other.

Or You Could Just Wing it & See What Happens

And, of course, that is always an option. But in this day-and-age, do you really want to do that? I suppose there are different cases where that might make sense. 

You just inherited tons of money and all you want to do is blow it on a cute website. 

Or perhaps you have so much business that you have no idea what to do with it all, and you're certain that you will continue to have this much business into the future. 

Maybe you've always just done things by the seat of your pants, and things have worked out okay so far.

Wow. That was harsh. 

I almost want to rewrite those lines, but I'm not going to. That is really how strongly I feel about this. You want to know something, though? In some ways, I know only too well how true my above words are.

A few years back, when I was still pretty sure mental health counseling was my next venture, I was focusing on mindfulness and getting ready to offer my services. 

My website was well set-up with a strategy that showed off my knowledge on the subject, both academic writing and blog posts.

I was making connections through that site with people who wanted to hear what I had to say about mindfulness. And things were going great. 

I changed careers, let my site become a kind of experimental dumping ground for new things I was learning, and - guess what? That does not work very well. In fact, it doesn't work at all.

Taking some quality time to listen to your audience (your ideal guest, your target market) and then consciously thinking about what they want and how you will give that to them pays off. You can do it yourself, but you really should do it. 

At Custom Fit, we love sharing what we know. If you'd like to learn more about content marketing and how to create your own content marketing strategy, ask us. We won't try to sell you anything you don't need. 

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