The 3 Steps to a Sustainable Content Strategy That Wins
A well-built content strategy is a proven way to capture the attention, audiences, and involvement needed to grow your organization. The right content in the right place can nurture an appropriate and interested community. It can equip team members and advocates with messages they can share on your behalf, helping to strengthen your brand. It offers structure and benchmarks that allow you to actually measure the ROI of your communication efforts. And maybe best of all, a content strategy generally is more cost-effective than other lead generation and retention efforts.
But so often, the effort required to maintain even a really conservative plan can sap its potential for success. Most organizations recognize that things like great writing, smart use of channels, and a clear and engaging brand voice can elevate content above the cacophony that clutters our channels. But the real hinge that defines a truly successful content strategy is sustainability.
So how do you accomplish a truly sustainable approach that extends the usefulness and impact of the work your company is doing? Like anything, with rigor, discipline, and a little dose of laziness.
That might sound like a contradiction. Hear us out. The Dragon Army team has been at this for decades, and we can assure you, a content management plan is a flywheel. If you structure your plan well, use a tech stack to widen your blast zone, and equip others to share your brilliant ideas, you’ll spend less time writing and more time reaping the benefits.
What Your Content Strategy Should Do
Before you move into your business-specific goals, it’s good to start with some basic goals for your content strategy that we’ve found apply to almost every business. A well-made content strategy should:
- Equip multiple parties to speak the same verbiage
- Ensure consistency in messaging and communication
- Extend your work and thinking across multiple channels and formats
- Position your leadership and key employees as experts in meaningful forums
- Offer validation for your approaches, culture, thinking, and successes
With these overarching goals in mind, the next step is to layer on your business-specific goals. We’re big believers in marketing for business’ sake, not marketing for marketing’s sake. As you’re thinking about your content strategy, take a future-focus. Where is the business headed? How will you measure success in a year? Six months? Next quarter? Those answers should dictate your content approach.
Identify the Right Topics
Now that you have established your business goals, the next step is to find what topics will be relevant to your audiences and that will also help you achieve your goals. This process begins by taking a good look at your audience. If your audience is not as targeted or relevant as it should be, your first task is to identify personas. Who are the most important influencers and decision-makers in your audience? What triggers their fears and wants, and what satisfies their needs? Those are your topics.
Understanding what types of content your audiences are most interested in seeing from you makes you better equipped to engage them and keep them looking to you for more.
And be sure you understand where and how they are likely to engage with you. Are they top of funnel and seeing you in a pithy ad? Or are they ready to make a decision and needing to confirm that you know your stuff? The answers take your topics and start to turn them into formats and channels.
Then start to look around at your thinkers. Who are the experts in your organization who can write content? Enlist them. They’ll help to show the breadth of experience and intelligence in your organization. (And keep you from having to shoulder the whole content effort yourself.)
Conduct a Content Audit
Once you know your content goals, are clear on how your content will support your organization, have a good understanding of your audience, and have some topics in mind, you’re ready to mine the coffers for what you already have. By auditing your resources, you can gather assets that could be used as content.
Keep in mind your business goals. Do you need to build leads for your sales teams to convert? Whitepapers and eBooks are excellent lead magnets. Want to inform audiences about topics you ‘own’? Post blogs to your site and share them in channels where your audiences are looking for information (e.g., LinkedIn). Want others to share particularly interesting and relevant ideas on your behalf? Post statistics or quotable nuggets, and feed them to your team to share over social media on your behalf.
Think outside the box in terms of what content you already have, and how one piece can be used in many ways. For example, a webinar can become a whitepaper or ebook, a blog series, and a set of ‘tweetable’ ideas.
Once you’ve got the list, you’re ready to map it into a manageable, measurable content management platform. In other words, it’s time to build the calendar.
Build Your Content Calendar
Create your content calendar at the start of every quarter and guided by your organizational goals. By identifying your objectives and opportunities each quarter, month, and week within your content management platform, you can align content for optimal impact. This is a ‘top-down’ approach that ensures each effort is purposeful and measurable.
- Quarter (Strategic): Identify a ‘theme’ or larger organizational objective
- Month (Measurable): Identify target KPIs, place set events and efforts
- Week (Tactical): Content pieces, channels, authors, and cadences
It gives you a snapshot of where and when you’re using (and re-using) your content. And it builds a sustainable resource for understanding how your content marketing work is supporting business growth. Month by month, quarter by quarter, you can track and measure how your content is creating awareness, engagement, and converting. Armed with that information, you can determine the best use of your time, efforts, and resources.
Think, Write, Edit, Deploy, and Measure (and Repeat)
Let’s go back to the beginning of this love letter to content, where we said that the way you accomplish sustainability is through rigor, discipline, and a little dose of laziness.
If you do the work on the front end to know your audiences, your areas of expertise, and the resources you have on hand, then build them into a topic-driven calendar, you have built the flywheel. Rather than working harder, you’ll be able to look at all the things you’re already doing that could become a piece of interesting and shareable content. You’ll see all the people in your organization who will want to contribute. And you’ll know what’s working (and what isn’t) so you can iterate and optimize for efficiency.
These are the steps we take as content strategists and writers. It’s how we help tiny organizations and really big enterprises to create awareness where it matters, raise their voice over the noise, and have real meaning in the marketplace. Trust us. It works. And if you need a guiding hand (or pen), we’re here to help.