There are so many different places you could be coming from to read this article after clicking on that headline. In my work as a freelance content creator, I find that most companies that are using content marketing tend to land within three different categories:

(1) Companies that give up on content marketing after a few months because they don’t see an immediate ROI:

These companies range from small to medium businesses, startups and established companies. They keep their ears to the ground to learn how to increase profits and how to drive leads through the buyer’s journey and they have noticed that there are companies from all industries that have generated massive growth by using content marketing. They have seen stats like these that lead them to jump into content marketing:

  • Content marketing leaders experience 7.8 times more site traffic than non-leaders.
  • While content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing, it generates more than three times as many leads
  • 93% of B2B marketers use content marketing.

With numbers like that, why wouldn’t a company look into investing in content marketing?

So they hire a kick-ass writer and pay for a couple of month’s worth of blogposts about their product or service. Sixty days later they haven’t seen any return on investment so they pull the plug and go back to their traditional marketing efforts and wash their hand of the effort.

(2) Companies that are not seeing a ROI but keep spinning their wheels:

This may seem gauche, but I like to think of these companies as Kool-Aid addicts. They see stats like:

  • Content marketers report having conversion rates that are nearly six times higher than their competitors.
  • 86% of B2B marketers and 77% of B2C marketers use content marketing.
  • 82% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content.

In looking at those stats, it only seems likely to throw money at content marketing efforts while expecting the investment to eventually pay off.

The unfortunate thing about these companies is that while it’s very cool that they are focusing on a form of marketing that works, they are just tossing out content with a Field of Dreams mentality. (If you build it, they will come.)

(3) Companies that are using content marketing and absolutely killing it:

Some companies got it, and they got it good.

  • Yale Appliance and Lighting. Their traffic tripled from 40,000 to 150,000 monthly visits after shifting their focus to content marketing.
  • Skytap started implementing content marketing in 2011 and their website traffic increased by 210%.
  • River Pool and Spas was an early adopter in the content marketing space. After lazering in on creating content for their prospective customers, the River Pool and Spas blog blew up with over 500,000 visitors a month.

Don’t Give Up

The companies that are killing it with content marketing and the ones that aren’t are separated by one simple thing:

In this day and age, if you are cranking out great content then you are ahead of the game. And that’s awesome. But as a company, you aren’t paying for or creating great content for fun are you? You hope to see your efforts reward themselves in terms of conversion.

Here’s what’s interesting. There is really only one small difference between companies that aren’t seeing a measurable ROI with their content marketing efforts and the ones that are killing it.

It’s all about strategy. The content has to have import. There is no reason to pay for content or to create it in-house unless it has a reason.

Defining your strategy should be the first goal before creating any content.

The good news is that you can DIY when it comes to strategy. There are programs and services that can teach you content marketing strategy for free, but that takes time and effort. You could hire someone to design your strategy, or you could just read the rest of this article where I will give you a super short and simple content marketing strategy template for free.

Define Your Buyer

This is straight down the line. Don’t make it difficult. What are you selling and who is buying it? What is their life like? What keeps them up at night? What makes them smile during their day? What is the one thing that you could provide that could make them happy?

That’s your buyer persona. You could google that phrase and get lost in an endless rabbit hole about creating buyer personas. Don’t do that. Establish who your customer is and what value your product or service can bring them. Nobody cares what kind of car they drive or where they get their coffee.

Visualize Their Journey

Here is another place where we can spend all of this time and effort on talking about funnels and journeys. While those things are important, for now let’s just drill down on the most direct path between a buyer’s journey and your solution. As you further develop your content marketing plan then you will want to take the time to fine tune those aspects. But for now, let’s just drill it down.

Here’s the journey in a nutshell:

  • Awareness Stage – the prospect is aware that they have a challenge and they are searching for a solution.
  • Consideration Stage – the prospect has identified various solutions for their challenge and they are weighing the pros and cons of each of every option available.
  • Decision Stage – the prospect has researched and read about the different solutions available to them and they have decided to move forward with a purchase or engagement.

Create Content for Each Stage of the Journey

Instead of just tossing out blogposts about what is going on in your industry or heavy-handedly spoon feeding your offer, consider creating pieces that resonate with each level of your prospect’s journey.

Let’s pretend that your company offers a super slick suite of HR solutions. The offering provides tracking, reporting and implementation of pay and benefits. It’s so much better than whatever in-house bullshit your buyer is currently dealing with.

So, this sounds simple but:

Write (or hire someone to write) pieces about how challenging it is to meet upper management’s expectations.

Then create some pieces talking about the pros and cons of outsourced or in-house solutions.

And then finally, iterate why your solution tics all of the right boxes.

It’s going to seem like I’ve over-simplified the process of creating a content marketing strategy.

In reality, I just broke it down. It’s not rocket science. Who are you selling your service or product to? What are they searching for when they are trying to find ways to dial down their issues? Speak to their challenges and give them a path to your solution.


I think you get it. If you need help creating content that speaks to each step of your buyer’s journey then feel free to contact me. In the meantime, let’s just keep these four words in mind: “What do they need?”