Wondering what you need to get started with content marketing? This post shares the 4 content marketing essentials you actually need to get off on the right foot.
Now that you’ve seen what awesome B2B content marketing looks like, you’re excited to get started with content! But what do you actually need to start? Forget the snazzy graphic design software or latest social media platform (it frightens me how nervous I am about learning Snapchat)—you need to know why you want to do content marketing to begin with.
Before you start filling buckets with content and writing all the things, developing a simple content marketing plan ensures you know not only what content you should be creating, but why and how it can integrate with the rest of your marketing plan.
Because, remember, content marketing shouldn’t operate in its own silo—it should connect with your entire marketing plan, and your business.
So, what do you actually need to get started with content marketing?
There are four essential elements to every solid content marketing strategy:
- Your vision
- Your mission statement
- An understanding of your goals
- Your strategy document
Let’s explore in more detail, shall we?
Your Vision—What Does Your Endgame Look Like?
You need to know where you’re going before you decide how you’re going to get there.
Your content marketing strategy should be able to answer questions like why are we doing this and what exactly are we doing?
And, by starting with a vision of where you want the company to be in the next year or 18 months, you can work backwards and develop the steps to help you get there.
Devise a strategy that is specific to you—there’s no silver bullet or one-size-fits-all content marketing plan. Sure, you can try to Google a cookie cutter template but you won’t find one.
It has to come from you.
It should align with your company, your audience and most importantly your current circumstances so you actually have some sort of framework to look to when questions come up.
But, it should also be flexible enough to change as your company, audience and resources do.
Your Mission Statement—Why Does Your Company Exist?
If you haven’t already created one, now is the perfect time to start thinking: what is your mission?
What’s your big picture? Light at the end of the tunnel? What values are you going to hold tight to while pursuing your mission?
Your mission statement should be able to answer that. And because it does, your mission statement also speaks to three important parts of any marketing effort:
- Who is your core target audience?
- What will be delivered to said audience?
- What you want to accomplish once your audience has consumed your content?
Understanding Your Goals—How Does Content Marketing Support Your Business?
There is nothing worse than creating content, for the sake of creating content. If I ask you why you want to blog, you should be able to answer with confidence on how it will support your business goals.
Create goals that are a) measurable b) meaningful and c) time-bound. The internet is already chock full of articles on how to set effective goals, so I won’t rehash. Not sure where to start? Here’s a few that are good primers for setting marketing-specific goals:
- How You Can Set Marketing Goals You Can Actually Achieve, Kissmetrics
- How to Set SMART Marketing Goals, Hubspot
- Set Business Marketing Plan Goals and Objectives, For Dummies blog
Content creation always needs to pass the so what factor—consider the ways in which the content marketing project will help your business.
Your Strategy Document—Set Yourself Up for Success
I’ve noticed when working in the small business world that owners and entrepreneurs love to describe their business as agile, nimble and flexible.
Usually, this is code for reactive, unregulated and lack of documented strategy or workflows.
Set yourself up for success, no matter what size your marketing budget is, by having a documented content strategy first.
Having this in place can give you the confidence to execute your content marketing plans, effectively.
Can you guess what your content marketing strategy should include?
Your mission statement.
Like any strategy document, make it comprehensive and concise.
Don’t fluff it up—only keep the stuff in there that actually matters. Cover the basis of the strategy, touch on any what if situations and include workflows and governance too (yes, even if you’re a team of one!). Before you know it, you’ll have a full-fledged content marketing strategy.
I once worked for a boss who had no idea what to do with content marketing. She chalked it up to being afraid of technology and outsourced any little thing to do with digital (even though she had someone in-house who was willing to learn and manage!).
For all the things that she was great at doing, one of the things she lacked was strategy. She was doing some of the right things—knowing and defining the audience, seeing the vision—but what she couldn’t do was put together a solid content strategy.
Instead, she focused on the how before even knowing the why.
Needless to say, content marketing never took off for her.
That’s how important a content marketing strategy is—and my next post will cover the steps to help you define yours.
Let me know: what is your experience with content marketing strategy? Do you have one? If not, what’s stopping you from making one?