As the end of the year nears, many businesses take the time to step back, look at how well the year went, and how they can improve upon those successes for next year. That may include updating a business plan, re-evaluating budgets, or looking for new innovations to invest in for the upcoming year. A review of your marketing strategy should also be on that list of items to review! The end of the year is a great time to look at what worked, what didn’t, and what your overall ROI was on each type of marketing tactic you invested in. It’s now the ideal time to look at your overall content strategy to see how you can improve it for better results but unfortunately, many small business owners don’t even have a content strategy. Do you need a content strategy to succeed online?  Let’s take a look at house a well-planned strategy can enhance your online presence.

What is a content strategy?

Content strategy focuses on the planning, creation, delivery, and management of content.  Content not only includes the words on the page, but also the images and multimedia that are used. Ensuring that you have useful and usable content that is well-structured and easily found is vital to your overall content strategy. Content strategy concerns itself with ins and outs of how and why your content will be created, managed, and eventually archived or updated. It looks at all of the content your customers ever encounter.

Isn’t content marketing the same as content strategy?

content marketingNope, it’s not! While many people use the terms “content strategy” and “content marketing” interchangeably, they are not the same thing at all.  Content strategy deals with internal guidelines and governance of content. Content marketing is more tactical; it deals with editorial calendars, creation, curation, promotion, and iteration of content. It focuses on the actual creation, curation, and editing of content that’s specifically created for the purposes of marketing, including blog posts, free guides, checklists, etc. and is aimed at building a trusted connection between a company’s products or services and the market that could potentially become customers. It’s about creating content that people not only want to consume, but that will also help them through the sales funnel.

How a content strategy helps your online presence

Content marketing can help your online presence by showcasing your expertise, showing your potential customers how the product or service you offer can address the challenges they face. If you can find out what questions your prospects are asking and answer those questions through your content marketing, you’re going to draw people to your website. Once they’re on your site, you’ve already won, as they are now willingly on your site to learn more. Sounds great, right?  The catch is, you have to have a content strategy to make your content marketing effective. simply pushing out content for the sake of creating content will not garner you the results you want. You have to be strategic in what content you create, who you’re targeting, how you distribute it, and how you measure it. Do all those things, and it can greatly improve your online presence. No strategy will likely result in a lot of work being done with very little effort. Content marketing may help with your online presence if you’re lucky; a content strategy will ensure to greater online exposure to the right audience for the desired result.

content strategy basicsWhat are the basics of a content strategy?

HubSpot provided a great overview on how to develop on content strategy. It’s well-worth taking the time to read. A word of caution:  you’ll be more successful at creating a solid content strategy if you have a marketing strategy in place. Why?  Because the key to a content strategy is knowing who you’re creating content for (target audience), what makes your perspective so unique (your unique value proposition), where your target audience is (what platforms are they on) and how that audience consumes information. You’ll also want a fairly good idea about what kind of keyword phrases your target audience uses to find information on what you’ll be writing about, or what terms they’d use to search for companies like yours. Engage a small business marketing consultant to help you with a marketing strategy if you don’t have one.

Here’s a quick overview of that fantastic HubSpot article. First, when you develop a content strategy, there are some key things to consider:

  • Who are you creating content for?
  • The problem the content will solve (or the question it answers)
  • What content formats will you use (blogs, videos, infographics, etc.)
  • Where will the content be published?
  • How you’ll manage creation and publication of content?

Ready to actually create your content strategy?  Here are the steps to take:

  • Define the goals of your content. What are you trying to accomplish with each content piece?
  • Define your buyer personas
  • Research what content you already have
  • Find a good content management system
  • Brainstorm content ideas
  • Identify types of content to create
  • Decide where you’ll publish your content
  • Identify how you’ll manage and measure your content

Sure, it sounds like quite an undertaking to create a content strategy but having one in place will go a long way to elevating your online presence. For small business owners, that’s a huge benefit. As a small business, you need a content strategy to succeed online. Make creating a content strategy a top priority as you approach the new year. You’ll be glad you did!

Patty Hughes
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