Think about it — what sales and marketing efforts don’t in some way relate to content? Whether it’s the sales scripts your team uses for sales calls, an email about an offer or sale, a press release announcing a new product, or your website’s About Us page, it’s all content. A successful, integrated marketing strategy is built on a framework of good content with consistent messaging.
Add to that a recent Content Marketing Institute survey that shows 91 percent of B2B marketers use content marketing to reach customers and 86 percent of B2C marketers think content marketing is a key strategy, and you see the value of creating a content strategy.
What is Good Content?
Before starting to create your content strategy, think about what makes good marketing and sales content. Here, we break down the five elements that define quality content.
- Relevant: Useful and meaningful to your audience
- Contextual: Presented to your audience at the right time in the right place
- Consistent: Consistent voice, tone, and message
- Clear & Concise: Well-organized, written clearly and concisely, and omits clichés, flowery language, and jargon
- Accurate: Factual — supported with credible data and sources
What You Need Before You Begin
To create a useful, informed content strategy, you need to understand your audience. Here are four components you should have before starting your content strategy:
Customer Personas: Your content should always be relevant and meaningful to your audience. Developing customer personas before you begin your content strategy will help you consider their pain points, communication preferences, and motivators. Download these customer persona templates from HubSpot to get started.
Customer Journey Map: Similar to understanding your audience personas, gaining a clear picture of your customer journey will help you think about content in terms of what content is relevant when. Start by identifying your customer buying stages and then map the touch points that occur in each one. Are there any gaps in content or potential roadblocks you notice?
Sales Team & Customer Feedback: Gather input on what will help your sales team do their jobs more effectively. In addition, there is nothing more valuable to your content strategy than hearing directly from your customers. Ways to gather this information include meeting with your sales team to gather anecdotal feedback, sitting in with them on sales calls, interviewing customers, or sending out a customer survey.
Step 1: Conduct A Content Audit
A content audit helps you identify what content you already have, where it fits in the customer journey, and what gaps and opportunities you have. The content audit should consider all content, including print and online: collateral, web pages, emails, blogs, articles, ebooks, podcasts, videos, webinars, press releases, and presentations.
When creating your audit, it is helpful to build a matrix to assess the content using the following criteria:
- Customer Persona
- Funnel Stage
- Message/Brand Consistency
- Opportunities for repurposing
Step 2: Brainstorm & Prioritize New Content
Following your content audit, you are ready to brainstorm to fill the gaps and opportunities you identified. Invite your sales team to a session to ensure you are considering their feedback and creating content that will be useful to them. Create content buckets by customer persona, funnel stage, topic and type, and record the ideas from your brainstorm. Then prioritize the content, create a project plan, and add it to your content calendar.
Step 3: Develop Processes for Organizing Content & Version Control
One of the biggest challenges for large and small companies is organizing content and ensuring version control. Before you begin creating content, create a process for this and train everyone in the company on this process. Often creating a folder that houses the final, approved versions of content and assigning one person to manage that folder will work. Keep all other versions in a separate folder that is only accessible to the marketing team and is clearly marked as an archive or content in development.
Step 4: Identify How You Will Share Your Content
How will you share your content once you’ve created it? When you are considering dissemination tactics, consider both your internal customers (sales and business development) and your external customers.
For example, if your sales team doesn’t know a new piece of collateral or article is available, they can’t use it. Create a process for notifying sales when new content is available and go a step further — provide them with social media posts or email language they use to share it.
For your external customers, reference the data from your customer personas (e.g., where do they spend time online, what are their communication preferences?), the type of content, and where it belongs in the funnel. Create a plan for sharing your content, including timing and marketing channels (e.g., social media, email, your blog, or an industry publication).