When we fail to plan, we plan to fail. These wise words by Benjamin Franklin could be the warning cry of the sad results that can happen when a content marketing plan — and the pieces that it contains — is developed without spending time on clarifying the strategy. In other words, what’s the WHY behind why we’re doing it in the first place?
“Who has time for strategy?” said you and every marketer everywhere. “I’ve got a dozen posts to write, an A/B test analytics report to create, and an ad campaign to launch.”
So we launch into deliverable mode. We rush through the projects and check off as many things as possible as quickly as possible. Whew. Done. Good.
And then we wonder why our dozen random posts got little engagement and our hasty ad campaign resulted in zero sales. But we got things done. We checked off the boxes — and that’s what matters, right?
Maybe. And we’ve all been there when the pressure mounts to get so much done in so little time.
But maybe that’s not what matters.
Why the Why Matters
Maybe the thing that matters more than getting things done (and yes, that’s important, too) is contributing quality, not just more quantity, to the massive content stream that threatens to drown us all.
And maybe what we say matters more than how we say it. As Nick Usborne, a great content writer and teacher, says, the best writing in the world is wrong if it doesn’t meet the needs of the audience.
One way to find solid ground amid this rushing torrent is spending time on the strategy — the WHY of what we’re creating — before we create it.
Yet, doesn’t it often seems like a luxury to take some time to think strategically when the deadline waters are rising?
But we need to build the boat before we leave the dock, and a simple way to start is to return to the foundation of content marketing and why we’re doing it in the first place.
Just What Is Content Marketing?
At its core, content marketing pulls in a reader because he or she finds value in the content, whether it’s the message, the learning, the emotion, or the help it provides.
When our content is compelling in a way that matters to our reader, then good can happen. Slowly, as they gain more trust that what we share will continue to have value to them, that’s when good can happen.
When we create enough thoughtful content and publish it consistently, our reader may become a fan, then purchase one of our products, then share our message with friends, and later on, may just become one of our biggest advocates.
That’s when we know we’ve succeeded. When our customer trusts us as a source of something they value.
And that journey from not knowing us at all to trusting us through a long-term relationship of providing value is our goal when we’re helping to promote a business, whether it’s a client’s business or our own.
Why Is Content Marketing Strategy Important?
Strategy is the plan that leads to success for our content and our business.
Strategy gives our content wings to fly and reach more people. We realistically have only a finite amount of time in which to create a finite amount of content. When we spend our time creating content that doesn’t matter to our reader, we’ve squandered that precious time and used it to create something that won’t resonate. Even worse, if our reader gets enough of this unvaluable content, he our she may leave and never come back.
If we want our reader to stay and become more and more engaged, our content needs to stand out from the noise. We need to be sure it meets what the audience needs.
Content Marketing Strategy Tips and Questions to Ponder
Before we start to create a piece of content, we can build in a few minutes to process and ponder some questions.
Is it to provide additional value through free information? To further establish the reader’s trust in our company as a preferred provider of this product or service? To help the reader choose to buy after trust has been developed? To motivate a second sale? To encourage the reader to share the information with a friend?
It's Your Turn
Planning to succeed by allowing time for strategy need only take a few minutes. When we’ve clarified Why we’re creating this piece, the How will come easily.
What are some of the questions you can ask before creating content?