You cannot hope for a successful content outcome in content marketing without a clear sense of intended outcome, and a strategy to support it.
We"€™re a fan of Joe Pulizzi"€™s B.E.S.T Formula to help with this. The purpose of BEST is simply don't start executing on your content marketing until you have a sound content strategy. And, we couldn"€™t agree more. Check out our post last week on ensuring you have a content strategy before executing social media too.
It"€™s too easy to get excited about tools and tactics without planning out what should happen and why. You wouldn't build a simple garden shed without a plan, content marketing is too important, yet we"€™ll create a Facebook page or e-book without a content strategy to underpin it.
Newt Barrett and Joe Pullizzi created the B.E.S.T. content strategy in Get Content Get Customers. It's basically a set of questions to ask whilst formulating your content marketing strategy is to find the "€œintersection between your products/services and the information needs of your customers"€. The goal of course being that being this considered will deliver more leads, more customers and a measurable ROI.
Behavioral - How will you measure return and what are the measurements that tell the return on content spend?
- What action do we want our customers to take?
- What effect must we achieve with them?
- How will we measure their behaviour?
- How will we put them on the path to purchase (what is the conversion point)?
Essential - What's the intersection between your expertise around your products or services and the informational/entertainment needs of your customers?
- What do our buyers really need to know (not about our products, but about information and tasks relevant to what we have to offer)?
- How do we position content for maximum impact
- What are the media types to be included?
- How does what they need to know align with the our unique expertise?
- What will provide the most benefit personally or professionally?
Strategic - I've seen too many custom content projects live outside of marketing and the overall strategic goals of the company. To truly be successful, a content strategy needs to tell your brand story as it relates to your customers. Don't let it live in a vacuum.
- Does this content marketing effort help us achieve our strategic goals?
- Does it integrate with our other strategic initiatives?
- Do we have executive support for this content strategy?
Targeted - Get a handle on the buyer persona for each of your customer segments. If you don't know them well, how do you know what they need.
- Have we precisely identified the prospects we want to target?
- What are the different customer segments? Why are they different?
- Do we really understand what motivates them?
- Do we understand their professional roles?
- Do we understand how they view the product or service we offer?
Think about how you are going to get this information. Use social media tools to create your own listening posts, people talking about you, your market and your competitors. Segment your database - then send out email surveys an call your customers, invite people to virtual (or real) focus groups, interact with people where they are and ask short simple questions. Talk to your sales and customer operations people on the front line, anyone who deals with customers daily.