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Johnson: Building an actionable content strategy

Carla Johnson
Type A Communications

“A content strategy serves as a North Star for all content efforts,” writes Carla Johnson, president-Type A Communications. “It guides the evolution of content over time and helps marketers understand what success looks like for them and their particular company.”

The BMA international board member produced a webinar that emphasizes best practices for developing an actionable content strategy. She shared her insights with BMA Buzz, and the archived webinar is available in the BMA Colorado resource library.

BMA Buzz: Why do marketers need to think about an overarching content strategy?

Carla Johnson: Without a strategy, you’re just creating more noise for your customers and prospects. You need a strategy so that all of your efforts are focused and have a purpose. It helps save an incredible amount of time and resources.

Research from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs shows that 93% of marketers say they do content marketing, yet only 44% have a strategy. What becomes telling is that only 42% say they are successful with their efforts. The last two numbers correlate for a reason.

Buzz: In the webinar, you outline five steps to take in the creation of an actionable strategy. Can you give us a quick overview?

Johnson: I use five steps as the most basic starting point. Depending on a company’s need and resources, their strategy can get much more detailed and complex.

Define your objectives. Here’s where you need to begin to think like a businessperson and not just a marketer. The ultimate purpose of marketing is to generate revenue, so, with content marketing, what business objectives do you plan to advance? What do you need for your content strategy to accomplish that?

Develop your brand story. Brand storytelling resonates with an audience when it says something different than everyone else, but that’s often hard for companies to actually do. It’s not about products and services. It’s about the difference you’re making to your customers and what they would miss if you weren’t around. When it’s right, it feels aspirational.  

Develop personas. You have to know what matters to the people you’re talking to so you know what’s relevant to them. This means types of information, format, messaging and so forth at every step of their buying process and also after they become a customer. The more closely you can target that content, the deeper your relationship will be.  

Audit and map your content. Once you know your objectives, the story you want to tell and who you’ll tell it to, you need to look at the content you have. What’s usable for each stage of the buying process? What need does it fulfill? Which persona does it address? Where are your gaps? This is when you begin to really get traction.

Measure. Circling around to the objectives that you set, now think about how to measure them. One thing I want to emphasize is to look at metrics as feedback, meaning not everything has to be going up and to the right. Your metrics should help you refine and do things better so you can continue to support those overall business objectives. 

Buzz: How can marketers get buy-in from executives and from peers across the company, so that they can drive client dialogue with a consistent voice and message?

Johnson: Marketers need to talk about how the work that they plan will move the business objectives of their company forward. Marketers tend to isolate themselves in their marketing world, and they aren’t as business savvy as they need to be. If you want buy-in from executives for content marketing—or any marketing initiative—it’s time to learn how to have a different kind of conversation with the people we support.

The consistent voice across all customer touch points is important, but you can’t get there without executive support first.  

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