An important truth about doing content marketing well that I’ve come to appreciate over the years is that “if it ain’t written down, it ain’t happenin’.”
And this isn’t about my own subjective “feeling.”
Consistently, the Content Marketing Institute’s Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends reports for B2B and B2C have revealed the strong connection between success in content marketing and the existence of a documented content strategy. And the findings completely agree with what we’ve experienced with clients. In other words, those who have had any degree of success have succeeded because they’ve had a documented strategy that they’ve followed.
Yet, relatively speaking, very few businesses take the time to craft a documented content strategy. Factors including inexperience, lack of time, lack of financial resources, and a hope that a “ready, fire, aim” approach to content marketing will work, contributes to avoiding this critical step.
But, let’s be honest, documented content strategies can be quite the undertaking. In our own experience, we’ve prepared massive content strategy documents for clients that have exceeded well over 70 pages. While documents of this size are necessary for larger, more complex projects (overall strategy, new web site design, etc.), we have sought ways to simplify the process, particularly for smaller business or nonprofit clients.
One thing we recognized as constants in our content strategy documents, large and small, are what we now refer to as Strategic Content Statements.
So, in recent years, we’ve adopted a template-based approach to developing Strategic Content Statements, and this template works for large scale content strategy projects, as well as small scale.
The first step in the process is to make decisions about top priority Desired Outcomes, Target Audiences, and Target Audience Needs.
For example, let’s say that my number one priority Desired Outcome is to increase qualified new business leads for our video storytelling services. The next question is from which target audience do I want to pull in these leads? Let’s say that my number one priority target audience is CMOs working in the outdoor equipment retail business. Finally, what can we assume (or through research observe) would be needed in terms of content from us that would persuade them to ask for more information, request a quote, and so on?
By answering the above questions, I now have the following three bits of information:
- Priority Desired Outcome–Generate New Business Leads for Video Services
- Priority Target Audience–CMOs in the Outdoor Retail Business
- Priority Target Audience Need–Content that Persuades them to request info
Using the three bits of information above, I can begin to construct my Strategic Content Statement, which reads as follows: In order to generate new business leads for video services, we need to reach CMOs in the outdoor retail business sector with content that persuades them to request more info from us.
The simple act of constructing the above Strategic Content Statement immediately provides the necessary level of focus required to conceptualize, publish, and distribute content, without falling victim to one of content marketing’s greatest problems, which we call “random acts of content.”
Further direction can be provided in the Strategic Content Statement by specifying what type of content asset(s) should be produced, as well as where they should be distributed, and on what frequency.
For example, let’s say that I decide the following:
- Content Asset Type–Video Series
- Distribution–YouTube embeds in LinkedIn posts
Now my modified Strategic Content Statement includes more specificity: In order to generate new business leads for video services, we need to reach CMOs in the outdoor retail business sector with content that persuades them to request more info from us, in the form of an outdoor adventure video series, distributed via YouTube embeds in LinkedIn posts.
Granted, the above can read like a long, run-on sentence. But clear, concise writing isn’t the point here. The point is to inextricably connect desired outcomes, audiences, needs, assets, and distribution decisions into one statement.
Constructing Strategic Content Statements like the above example provides the following benefits:
- You can quickly communicate to colleagues up and down the ladder what is going to happen, why, how and how often
- You can efficiently communicate to external agencies or sub-contractors the parameters of a content project, for generating quotes and bids for services
- You can relieve yourself of the anxieties associated with doing “random acts of content,” drawing comfort by being very focused on what do
- You can better plan out an editorial calendar that can be implemented upon
One final thought is that it’s not uncommon to have multiple Strategic Content Statements that you’re working on, at the same time. Our best advice, though, would be to not try to implement more than three at a time.