Content marketing is arguably the biggest change in marketing of the past decade.

If you’ve answered the call by developing a content marketing strategy, congratulations! You’re on the right track — marketing your company via blogs, articles, social and video content designed to pique interest in your products or services.

One of the most significant benefits of a content-marketing strategy, particularly for smaller businesses, is that you don’t need a big budget, or even a big team to execute it. You do need a documented strategy to execute it.

So, how well are you documenting your business’ content marketing strategy? If your response to that question is something along the lines of, “We’re publishing content, but we’re not documenting our strategy,” then read on, because it’s important to understand why a documented strategy is more powerful than a simple verbal strategy — and why all of your content efforts are wasted without a well-thought out and documented strategy.

Why Do You Need to Document Your Content Marketing Strategy?

Because content marketing is still a relatively new, developing a practice for documenting it simply doesn’t occur to many small businesses. And if traditional marketing is more entrenched in your business, even if it’s not working as well as it once did, campaigning for a strategic approach internally can be more difficult.

The fact is, having a documented strategy is the difference between success and failure when it comes to your content marketing efforts.

With a documented strategy you’ll ensure that you’re consistently steering your business towards its goals with clearly defined objectives around what you want your content marketing efforts to achieve.

Without one, your content marketing efforts are essentially useless. That may seem a bit harsh, but it’s true.

Content Marketing Institute’s annual Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report over the past several years has consistently identified documenting a content strategy as one of the top traits of effective content marketers.

In fact, the 2017 report found that 61 percent of the most successful content marketers have a documented strategy.

“Effectiveness levels are greater among respondents with documentation, clarity around success, good communication, and experience,” CMI reported in its key takeaways.

The same study a year prior found that 39 percent of companies with a documented strategy were more effective in nearly all aspects of content marketing than their peers who either had a verbal-only strategy or no strategy at all.

Despite those statistics, less than 40 percent of B2B and B2C companies currently have a written content marketing plan in place.

Why are content marketers with a documented strategy are more successful than those who fly blind with little strategy behind or measurement of their content’s performance? Here are some of the reasons:

  • Documenting = repeatability – Documenting your content strategy makes it more easily repeatable, by you and others in your business, and allows you to set expectations and to vet what works and what doesn’t.
  • Helps you focus on the most effective outlets – You can’t be on all platforms all the time, nor should you be. Developing and documenting your strategy will help you determine which social and other platforms are best reaching your intended audience, prospects and existing customers. By staying focused you can avoid wasting time, energy, and money in all the places your customers aren’t.
  • Keeps you focused on your audience – All too often we’re creating content that we think is good, but in reality only serves our own purposes and doesn’t necessarily resonate with our customers. Always remember that your ultimate goal with content marketing is to build your audience. Without a documented strategy that outlines the goals and metrics for each piece of content you’re publishing you can easily lose sight of that.
  • Makes you focus on retention – In addition to building your audience, you want to keep those you’ve acquired coming back with relevant content that meets them wherever they are in their journey. A documented strategy will remind you to come back to the more seasoned members of your audience on whom it may be easy to lose focus while you’re wooing the new ones.

Ultimately, you’ll never see value from your content without a strategy and a process for documenting it. Equally important is a process for measuring it. You should have goals and measurement for every piece of content you’re putting out into the world.

Your audience is your biggest asset. You must meet your potential customers where they are, and you must be strategic in how you do so. Also remember to keep your goals SMART. This means they should be simple measurable, attainable, repeatable and timely.

Documenting your strategy by putting it in writing, meeting regularly with others in your business to review and makes changes as needed will help you meet your goals.

If you are starting from scratch developing or documenting your content strategy, CMI offers some great tips to help you get started in this post.