When you’re chest-deep in the world of content marketing (or any industry for that matter) it’s easy to dive into advanced topics without fully examining the more foundational tenants that drive them. It’s one part one-upmanship, one part dork, and 100% trying to make the lives of readers easier. But there’s a problem with only focusing on the advanced stuff: Sometimes, the basics that seasoned content marketers take for granted have yet to be embraced by their audiences.

Recently, I experienced this very thing in the Content Marketing Academy, a new LinkedIn group created to foster discussion and sharing of best practices between content marketers. Tons of marketers jumped onboard (over 2,000 in the first 2 months!) and started sharing. BUT, it seemed to me that everyone dove in to very specific issues, excluding folks who are just looking for a place to get started.

So I began a discussion: The Basics: So my company wants to do some Content Marketing….where the heck do I start?!?

There were a lot of great responses, and there seemed to be a few recurring themes. So in the spirit of going back to the basics, I wanted to share 8 of the ideas I found particularly helpful. Here goes:

1. Know what you’re talking about

“Job one is to be the authority on your subject.” – Dan Auito, Mentorship Director at Business Mentors 101

2. Understand WHY you’re creating content

“Before you run off and start creating content always ask WHY. What problem will it solve for your customer? How will this help them make a better decision? What are their needs? Where they are looking? What do we want them to do once they’re finished consuming your content?” – Lisa González, Marketing Consultant at Lucky Charm Marketing & Consulting, @lisagonzos

3. Get your team on board

“The very first step in getting started is to gain high level executive support and socialize the idea, strategy and tactics with the key stakeholders.” – Bruce McDuffee, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Consultant at Jeppesen, @brucemcduffee

4. Embrace the emotional

“Begin with identifying your true product…Make a list of emotions your customer feels before, during and after interacting with your product/services/company. Find stories that correspond with those emotions.” – Christine Cavalier, Technology Writer & Creative Strategist at PurpleCar, @purplecar

5. Define the right metrics

“Start with defining your success metrics…The key difference between content marketing and traditional interrupt marketing is that you give out content first and attempt to interrupt only after the customer has realized the value…become a trusted source, an expert, or at least the path of least resistance when the customer is ready to engage.” – Vern Ide, CTO Percussion Software

6. Take one step at a time

“Start with getting your feet wet.” http://www.slideshare.net/Altimeter/content-the-new-marketing-equation – Rebecca Lieb, Digital Advertising & Media Analyst, The Altimeter Group, @lieblink

7. Identify and find your audience

“Look at where your clients hang out online and direct your content there. But, before you even do that, define your target market and ideal client. And, if you say ‘it’s everyone or anyone who (fill in the blank),’ you are barking up the wrong tree. Go narrow and deep.” -Laurie Hurley, Owner at the Social Networking Navigator, @lauriehurley

8. Have more than one tool in the shed

“Assign the right goals to different content pieces. Awareness-based assets will have different goals than decision stage assets.” – Ben Bradley, Sr. Client Consulting Mgr at TechTarget, @benjbradley

Hopefully, these 8 tips shed some light on the first steps toward a successful content marketing program. Did we miss anything? What are some other things to keep in mind when just getting started with content? Leave a comment with your thoughts below, or continue the conversation in The Content Marketing Academy group on LinkedIn.