Content marketing continues to ride the Zeitgeist and present opportunities and challenges to marketers from organizations of all shapes and sizes. Content marketing is a great way to build reputation and brand, drive new leads and ultimately sell more. Despite these advantages, getting started on a strategic program of content marketing can prove difficult for busy marketers who haven’t yet dipped their toes in the water.

Follow these 10 rules to find content marketing success:

  1. Set an Objective: Without an objective, you’ll find planning and executing new content-led initiatives incredibly difficult. Do you want to raise your profile, drive new email subscriptions, generate leads or simply sell more? Once you have set an objective, content production suddenly becomes more focused.
  2. Perform an Audit: Compile a list of current content resources (blog posts, white papers, presentations, images, etc.), people from within your organization who can help you build new content and partners who may be able to provide additional resources. You should also include any gaps in your resource portfolio. Do you have access to designers, editors, etc.? If not, do you know where to find them?
  3. Don’t Plan Too Far Ahead: Keep your plans nice and short. If a plan is longer than a single sheet of paper, you run the risk of becoming a planner and not a doer. If a short-term plan doesn’t quite yield the results you were looking for, you can afford to change it.
  4. Solve Problems: Speak to your clients and prospects and attempt to solve real-world problems for them via your content. Never try to second-guess what makes your clients’ lives difficult. Go directly to the source, and they will give you more material than you know what to do with. If your content isn’t relevant, engaging and useful, your clients will walk away from it, and you might find them hard to win back.
  5. Start Small and Test the Water: Start with a blog post and then (if it is well received) pour additional time and resources into more weighty strategies, such as an email campaign, online video, infographics, white papers/eBooks, webinars and events.
  6. Recycle and Re-appropriate: Don’t think of content as a one-time-only resource. You will constantly have new prospects arriving in your pipeline. Even old content will appear fresh if it has never been viewed before. Instead of throwing old content in the trash, you might consider simply refreshing or updating it so it remains relevant.
  7. Distribute Widely: Don’t just publish an article to your blog and hope it reaches your target market. Share it widely via email and social media and encourage your colleagues, business partners, prospects and clients to do the same.
  8. Drive People Back to Your Website: Email and social media are great tools for delivering content, but in order to see real success, you’ll need to drive people to your website, where you can better track them and convert viewers into buyers.
  9. Keep Publishing: Don’t give up. Content marketing, when published regularly, gives your business a pulse. You should also remember the major search engines, and keep in mind that your prospects love fresh content. In this respect, you should think of content marketing as a vital component of your wider SEO strategy.
  10. Stop Talking About It: Talking about content marketing won’t get the job done. If content marketing is on your to-do list for 2016, read through these rules one more time and just get on with it.

This post first appeared on the iContact Email Marketing Blog.