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Should You Create Content Randomly (Once a Rainy Day) or Go with a Strategy Approach?

Most new businesses don’t feel ready to fully commit to content marketing and prefer to focus their attention on immediate needs. They release pieces of content periodically, with no clear roadmap, hoping for some sort of effect to add up over time.

The rewards end up tiny or outright nonexistent: no shares, comments, or new clients. That’s because these businesses have misused one of the most critical ways to connect with clients and partners. But what went wrong?

Photograph by master1305 via Bigstock

With Haphazard Efforts, Content Will Be Fruitless

Underperforming content marketers create content on the fly, hoping for a quick surge in engagement. Eventually, no tangible results can be observed, which only serves to undermine the worth of content in the eyes of everyone involved. On the other hand, when done right content will attract and retain an audience, converting a good part of it into customers. But that’s only if you keep building momentum through continuous creation and promotion of content.

The truth is you can’t really win the content game by feeling your way through it. What you need above all is a consistently executed strategy, with specific goals, actions, and KPIs. Luck or timing alone doesn’t push websites to the first page of search results or blog posts to go viral. Successful pieces of content don’t work in a vacuum, but as a part of a larger, cohesive process.

Why a Solid Content Strategy Is More Needed Than Ever

According to Mark Schaefer, author of the book “The Content Code”, creating great content is not enough. Businesses must find ways to promote content and make it shared by a large number of people. Creating content with shareability in mind means that you have to think about the content itself (what value does it offer? What do people stand to gain by sharing it?) and the right channel (Is it your company’s blog? LinkedIn? Your email list?). Devising a strategy forces you to answer these questions and figure out how you can make a big splash with your content.

Releasing content once in a while greatly diminishes your chances to make an impact. Actually, even if you follow a content calendar, you are probably not promoting as much as you should. Don’t expect a myriad of potential customers to come across your content around the time you published it. This is why content repurposing is a tactic many content marketers use and recommend. Reuse previous content in creative ways and you will maximize its potential impact.

By not taking a strategic approach, you are relinquishing the outcome of your content efforts to chance—or worse: the output of the competition.

Likewise, using a bunch of random content tactics like videos or infographics just because they are popular is merely spreading your efforts in all directions, without knowing which of them will work and why. Instead, you should take the time to find the right approach for your specific market.

How to Start Drafting a Content Strategy

The first thing you should know about content strategies is that they need to be documented. A documented strategy allows all the actors involved (oftentimes it’s more than just the content marketing team) to have a unified vision of content goals and the brand voice used.

Without a written strategy shared with the members of your organization, the more time passes and the less you will be able to keep track of what content you published, what performed well and what didn’t, which channels resulted in more engagement, and what content you should come up with next. You waste time, money and effort wandering aimlessly and hitting roadblocks.

Granted, coming up with a strategy can seem like a daunting task at first. The best way to get around it is to ask these essential questions:

  1. What is the overall goal of your content efforts and how does content benefit your business goals?
  2. Do you have a clearly defined audience?
  3. On which channels will you distribute content, and what is your specific goal for each channel?
  4. What are the formats and topics that comprise the content you will create?
  5. How are you going to promote your content and how big is the budget you can allocate for that?
  6. What is the publishing schedule for each type of content?
  7. How will you measure results?

Answering these questions means you have found the key pillars of your content strategy. A clearly defined strategy helps you focus your time, talent and money to the right direction. Content thus becomes a spring of wealth rather than a budget black hole.

To achieve that outcome, you must consider content marketing as a continuous process, not a one-and-done campaign. Yes, the investment feels sizeable at first, but a well-designed content strategy will be rewarded with a huge ROI, albeit probably not immediately. Businesses with a whimsical content schedule will remain trapped in online obscurity, eclipsed by those who keep their audience engaged with relevant content that is consistently created and promoted.  Following a strategy will make you part of the latter rather than the former.

Annie Ianko

Chief Content Officer

Annie has over 20 years of experience as an editor and content creator and manager. With work in television and written media, she has dedicated her past 10 years to learning the ropes of online content creation, from writing to editing, from SEO to content management.

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