Succeeding in content marketing is not something that just happens by accident. It’s also not something your new marketing intern is likely to figure out for you.

The best content marketing is like a well-told story or a finely orchestrated symphony. Content without a strategy is just noise, easily ignored. The power of your content relies not only on its quality but on its thoughtful execution.

Before you commission your first blog post or release your first infographic, you need to consider what your goals are. While every business wants to grow its bottom line, the question is – how do you intend to do that?

What’s Your Strategy?

Content marketing can take many successful forms. Here are just a few of your countless options. You can:

  • Build a social media following with engaging content that helps you to stay top of mind with your prospects and grow sales
  • Create ongoing blogs that improve your search rankings and create positive interactions with your best contacts
  • Develop and promote a YouTube channel for your amazing video content
  • Create fun, shareable infographics that will grow your reach organically for years to come
  • Promote eBooks and white papers with signup forms for capturing new leads

How Do You Want to Come Across?

While you’re still in the planning phases, you need to think carefully about what image you want to project. Your content strategy should be aligned with your brand vision as well as customer expectations.

Are you hoping to be seen as a subject matter expert – a go-to resource for valuable information and solving your industry’s toughest problems? Or do you want to be perceived as a visionary – a bleeding-edge leader who is always one step ahead of the rest and who attracts like-minded daredevil clients? Or maybe you’re the fun company? You’re perfect for customers who want to take things a little less seriously.

Whatever your ultimate goal, your content should mirror and support it, not only in the core text, but also in how you go about distributing it. That’s what makes it a content strategy, not just a content waterfall.

Sketches of different brand styles

Share Your Brand’s Story

Humans are natural storytellers. Long before the written word, people passed down knowledge by gathering and sharing stories with each other. Stories – whether written or visual – are easier to remember than facts and figures. Stories activate the heart, not just the mind.

In marketing, great stories grab your audience’s attention and inspire them to retell them and pass them along. This is a key point because the success of a content marketing campaign is measured by how often your company’s story is heard and shared.

The Greatest Story Never Told

If content lands and no one is around to hear it, does it make a noise? Not likely. The best content marketing in the world is the content that someone can find. Think of your favorite book, movie or even joke. How great would it be if no one ever encountered it? You can’t love something you have never experienced. In order for your message to be heard and shared, you need to focus on promoting it and converting the customer. Some of the most tried and true ways of delivering content are via email, your website and social media marketing campaigns.

Catching Lightning in a Bottle

Sometimes, a piece of your content strikes a chord and gets shared far beyond your expectations. Instead of the hundreds of views you’re hoping for, it turns into thousands (or millions!). Maybe it even shows up in an article from a major media outlet or an example in a high-profile speech. If this happens, you may be tempted to turn around and drop everything, reworking your whole strategy around this amazing viral moment. After all, this is your biggest chance for exposure ever! If people loved this, surely they’ll love more of the same.

Don’t do it. You built your content strategy for a particular purpose. That purpose was not to be retweeted by people who will never give you money. Stay focused.

Keep Going

You may find, as many marketers do, that content is more trouble than expected. The audience isn’t steady and the review process holds up your calendar. Your sales team may not see the value of anything that isn’t generating lots of leads in the short term. You may be tempted to look at your content experiment as a failure and drop the whole thing. But don’t give up yet!

Content marketing is a long game of relationship building. Prospects need to be engaged over time. Content helps build trust and familiarity with your brand – spreading the word, not just converting on first sight.

Keep with your strategy and don’t get distracted by trying to revolutionize your sales funnel with one eBook. Release a steady stream of consistently useful content that isn’t necessarily self-promotional and you’ll find that long-term return that you wanted.

Need more help developing your strategy? ContextWest is a Denver-based content strategy agency that has website content writers on staff and offers content marketing services that are affordable and results-driven. Get in touch with our team for a content marketing consultation.