Final Magic 8 Ball for Content Marketing

Launching a content marketing program is overwhelming – there’s no way around it.

Companies that are new to content marketing or program building may try to get a grasp on the requirements by asking questions like:

  • Should I commission new content?
  • How many white papers will be needed?
  • Is there an ideal content format?

Although my answers “Maybe,” “Depends” and “Yes” would be accurate, they’re about as insightful as asking a Magic 8 Ball for help designing a content strategy.

There isn’t a formula to get these answers; the answers will come during the planning and execution of your content marketing program.

To get there, though, you need to back up and look at two things: the goal you want to achieve and the specific audience you want to achieve it with.

Once your goal has been articulated and your target audience identified, it’s time to dig into the audience’s mindset and motivations. When you know what concerns them and what makes them successful, you can consider what topics they’ll research, read and respond to — and when they’ll do so.

This will help you map different paths for your customers’ buying journey and choose topics for your content marketing program that will be the best fit for them.

You’ll also need to think about how to put a unique spin on your selected topics so that your content stands out in the noisy digital marketplace.

Getting to the Answers

Looking inside your organization is a great place to start. Evaluate existing content, internal subject matter experts and data, then determine whether they fit within the context of your content marketing strategy.

This will lead you to the answer to the first question: “Should I commission new content?”

You may find you already have an original way to cover your topic, but if you don’t have a new perspective to offer, it may be time to do something original, e.g., conduct research, interview industry experts or survey customers.

The answer to “How much content?” will come when you’re aligning your topics to the different stages of the buyer’s journey.

Create urgency around your topics early in the process, provide options in the middle stages, and then tie it all together by relating the topics to your company’s specific solutions.

For instance, if your topic is cloud computing security, you could map your content like this:

Early stages of buyer’s journey — Create urgency

  • White paper: In the face of hackers who are after your customers’ credit info, is your cloud computing solution as secure as it should be?

Mid-stage — Present options that solve the urgent issue

  • Checklist: Evaluating Cloud Computing Security Providers
  • Calculator: Calculating ROI on Cloud Computing Security

Late-stage — Content tied to products

  • Animated Infographic: What You Get with Our Cloud Computing Security Solution

Looking at your content needs for each stage and the different channels where your audience can engage with this content will give you a sense of how much you need to produce.

And here’s where you get the answer to your final question: “Is there an ideal content format for me to use?”

The answer is still “Yes” – and that’s what makes it fun. Your audience will find your content in multiple channels from many directions, and your shiny new original content should be in the format best suited to that particular channel.

That could be a speaking slot at an industry event. A webinar to review best practices. A press release announcing research findings. An infographic to share in social channels. A video demonstrating how your solution resolves your audience’s issues. A series of blog posts from your subject matter expert. An ROI calculator for PPC marketing. An executive summary in an email. A customizable sales presentation.

With no formula, there isn’t one right answer. But if the question, after planning your content marketing program across these three dimensions, is “Have I optimized my chances for success?”, the answer will be “It is decidedly so.”

Content promotion is just as important to your content marketing’s success as the actual content creation. Download our white paper Why Content Marketing’s Really a Question of Marketing Your Content to learn how to use distribution to achieve your goals.