Brian Tracy is a strong advocate of written goals. In his book “Goals” he writes that only 3% of adults have clear and written goals and by every statistic, they accomplish ten times as much as people with no goals at all. The same applies to our digital marketing world, as marketers with written goals prove out to be more successful than those who don’t write down their strategy.

According to the 2016 Content Marketing Institute/Marketing Profs research, companies that document their content marketing strategy are significantly more effective over those that do not. So, if you are planning your content marketing strategy or shifting your strategy from “more content”, “quality content” to “engaging content”; the following piece is going to help you a lot. If you don’t know why you need to shift your focus from quality and quantity to engagement, read my previous post on Business2Community.

Here are 7 C’s of content marketing (not to be mixed with C’s of communication) that constitute effective an content strategy. They should guide you to and make up an epic content marketing strategy that serves the purpose well.

1. Customer:

Whether you’re a B2C or B2B business, the ultimate objective is to serve your clients/customers well. The key objective of your content marketing is to educate prospects about a particular product, idea, or service to motivate them for making a buying decision. Hence, a perfect piece of content is the one that’s aimed at the needs and pain points of the customers. Robert Half famously said: “when your customer comes first, the customer will last”.

Whether you’re planning your marketing strategy or thinking about the most suitable type of content for your niche; the starting point of everything will be customers and their needs. To develop better content, design customer personas; at least 4 types. They should guide you about the type, tone, style, mix, and the best channel.

2. Company & Competition:

In the planning exercise, you need to determine whether your company has the required resources to carry out the suggested exercises? Can it supply the desired resources for your marketing? Does your company enjoy technical expertise in the area of content you’re going to produce? Should your business go global or remain focused at local market?

To answer these question, “SWOT” analysis is very handy tool. It should guide you about the strengths, weaknesses, areas of improvement, opportunities, and possible threats from the market players. Moreover, you should plan your feasibility of the program and specify the minimum required resources. This SWOT should cover your “Competition” analysis as well since it’s an important guiding factor that helps do better content marketing. Competition’s practices can be a great source of help for startup campaigners as they can follow their inspiration.

Let me share an additional tip for the marketers with some tough bosses/clients who are not good at allocating budgets. While preparing your ‘resources required’ document, add a column of ‘desired resources’ as well. This is to tell them that ideally we should have “Option A” but due to our financial position, we’re going for “Option C”. It’ll make your case very strong and help them understand your position and need for the resources.

3. Concept:

Concept or theme of the content should be considered as soul of the piece. Your entire content is an effort to explain the very concept and convey the message of your choice. Whether it is Coca Cola’s “Share a Coke”, Apple’s “Get a Mac”, or P & G’s “Thank you Mom”; all shared one fundamental thing: a compelling concept.

What should be the concept of your content?

Remember, it’s the uniqueness and practicality of the idea that works wonder in business and real life. Whether you are designing your startup plan, brainstorming for a content piece, or having a team meeting over your new ad assignment; uniqueness, simplicity and practicality would be the key characteristics of the desired outcome. There are folks who can bring a very unique idea but due to shortage of resources or market’s demographics, it’s of no value. Therefore, brainstorm with your team and come to an idea that you can develop into reality.

“It’s the uniqueness and power of the theme that convinces prospects to take a look at your content. If your content theme is able to convey the perceived-value of your product or service; it’s an effective, otherwise not”; says Ilan Alon; the CEO of Adswish: a startup search engine for online classified ads. Selection of the right type of content and right medium for promotion is also part of broader ‘concept’. If you think otherwise, you can add another C for “Channel”.

4. Context:

Context is important in all kind of marketing. It helps marketers understand whether the concept of their ‘content’ will be socially/economically/politically accepted or not? To do this, we have a measurement tool called “PEST analysis” which helps in understanding the contextual issues.

PEST is an acronym for Political, Economic, Social and Technological factors, which are used to assess the market for a business or organizational unit. You need to determine if there are any limitations due to

  • Political factors: legal issues, trade regulations, taxation & labor laws
  • Economic factors: overall economic growth, cost of doing business etc.
  • Social factors: cultural sensitivities, demographics, religion, faith and culture
  • Technological factors: latest tools, impact of their installation, cost, etc.

Your idea of content might be awesome but it might create cultural or political issue, which your business might not be able to afford. Therefore, your content strategy must address contextual factors and guide the team in light with those.

5. Conversation:

The fourth C of content marketing is ‘conversation’. An effective content strategy should focus on developing conversation. As I noted in my previous article; content production scaled up by 35% last year but engagement level dropped by 17%. Therefore, marketers need to migrate towards engaging content instead of quality content. Why? Simply because of ‘conversation’ factor.

The ultimate objective of any content is to start a conversation with prospects and engage them with the idea. Let them play with the concept and come back to you with a convinced mind that they need your product, service, or idea. Obviously it’s not going to be an easy path to travel on; you might have to change the entire thought process but when you’re done with it, it’ll definitely guide you to the right direction.

The rule is, write/design/develop a content with the mission to start a conversation with the prospect and this is best done when you talk about some of their problems and suggest practical solutions. Just explain the key advantages of investing in gold or commodities or in your pitched idea/product/service and let them relate your thoughts to their cases. Let them build a conversation within self and come to a conclusion. When they’re convinced, they’ll definitely come back with a slightly changed mind and this time the iron would be hot; all you need is to strike your best way.

6. Community:

Some folks might consider as part of the conversation, which is slightly true. However, it has another angle too. You need to invest time and resources to understand the community by participating in already active communities. What you need is read online communities, aggregators, and forums as they will help you find out key pain points and key sell points. From Quora to e Alltop, BizSugar, and Blog Engage; there are many forums and content aggregators that can help you. In addition, Consumer Barometer with Google, and Google Trends can help a lot in understanding how people use the Internet across the world.

The purpose is simple; you need to understand the market and targeted community before selling something. This investment of time and efforts will help you craft better and more specific content that will attract people and help in achievement of business and marketing goals.

7: Conversion:

The ultimate objective of digital marketing is conversion. When we specifically relate it to content, the objective is simple: create genuinely useful or entertaining content for your target audience not to overtly promote your business but to build rapport and convince prospects about the product/service/idea’s value and need. Conversion is an important part of content marketing but it’s different from email campaigns.

Unlike emails or advertisements content marketing influences prospects in an authoritative manner. It educates people about new thoughts and opportunities and leads to the end of the funnel. However, one must not attempt to immediately convert people with a piece of content. It’s not a short-term process; instead a long-term process as Joe Polizzi has noted in his book “Epic Content Marketing”.

Depending upon your corporate position, you need to keep a long-term perspective for content marketing’s ROI. This is especially important for startup marketers who intend to start everything from scratch, keep a year or may be more in your mind before you start seeing some positive results. However, do not mix it with some short-term and time-bound marketing campaigns as they are a different scenario.

To learn more about how to drive conversion through content marketing, read this article by Jason DeMers on Forbes. In case you think I’ve missed out some point, don’t forget to mention in the comment section below, or reach me out on Twitter.