Research has also shown that having (and following) a content marketing strategy is critical to success. In the 2015 CMI/MarketingProfs survey:
- Only 35% of respondents said they have a documented (written) content marketing strategy, while another 48% said they have a strategy, but it's not in writing.
- 60% of respondents with a documented strategy said their company is effective at content marketing, but only 7% of respondents without a documented strategy said their content marketing efforts are effective.
A comprehensive content marketing strategy will address numerous issues. The Content Marketing Institute has published an excellent white paper on content marketing strategy which includes thirty-six questions that marketers should consider when they're developing their strategy.
While all of the questions in CMI's white paper are important, I usually recommend that clients begin by focusing on a set of seven core questions. The answers to these questions won't constitute a complete content marketing plan, but they will provide a solid foundation for your content marketing strategy.
- Who is the target audience for our content? What are the characteristics of the organizations that constitute our best prospects, and what are the attributes of the people in those organizations who will influence the decision to purchase our products or services?
- What are the primary marketing objectives (brand awareness, lead generation, etc.) of our content marketing program?
- What issues or topics will be relevant and compelling to the people in our target market?
- What content formats will be most effective with the people in our target market?
- Given the communications behaviors and preferences of the people in our target market, what communications channels will we use to publish, distribute, and promote our content?
- Who will be responsible for creating our content resources, and who will manage our content marketing program?
- What financial resources will be needed to fund our content marketing program, and where/how will we obtain those resources?
From these questions, it should be clear that your content marketing strategy must be based on clearly defined marketing objectives and a deep understanding of your potential buyers. This reinforces the point that content marketing is ultimately a means to an end. It is a method of marketing that enables companies to create and sustain meaningful engagement with potential buyers for the purpose of achieving strategic marketing objectives.