Building a strong content strategy is all about creating the mediums by which your B2B marketing and sales goals are achieved. The form your content will take ultimately depends on what you aim to achieve. For instance, if you’re angling for brand awareness, you focus on SEO-optimized content like thought leadership pieces or informative articles to increase SERPs visibility and drive traffic into your website’s pages.
If you don’t yet have a sound content strategy in place yet, you’re missing out. The fact is, over 77% of companies today say they have strategy for their content marketing. Part of the reason new business owners don’t place much priority in content strategy is because they feel it’s easy enough to work out on the fly. The truth is that high-quality content guided by a clear strategy can help you build authority among your target audience, place you at the forefront of consideration, and help you succeed.
6 Key Questions to Start
It can get very overwhelming when you first approach the task of creating a content strategy. You really just have to begin by answering six key questions:
1 – Who is your content for?
Understanding who you’re creating your content for goes a long way towards determining what kind of content you create and by which channels you will send them out. Your audience should always be your vision of your ideal customer and should be as comprehensive and descriptive as possible—including key data points like their demographics, firmographics, and even technographics. You can even have more than one, really, should your products and services be diverse enough. Build a strong foundation by answering this question thoroughly.
2 – What pain points are you addressing?
The next question covers what value you’re offering to your audience. That is, what problems of theirs are you trying to solve. The answers you give here are important as they will be the determinants of what your ultimately create. Now, it’s important in answering this question that you take into consideration pain points that your audience is painfully aware of as well as those that they might not even realize that they have.
3 – What makes you stand out?
Unless you’re operating in a truly unique niche, you’re likely to be one among many competing for the prime spot for consideration among likely the same audiences. With that being the case, the next question you need to answer has to do with your uniqueness. Framed another way, the question can also be: why choose you over everyone else? Your answers to this question will often determine the talking points you’ll be repeating in one form or the other down the line.
4 – What formats or mediums will you use?
There are many formats out there that you can use as vehicles for your content. Video is increasingly becoming very popular as are colorful, visual infographics. You also have blog posts, podcasts, whitepapers—the list goes on and on. Trying to use all will strain your time and effort so the way to approach this question is to figure out what formats are popular among your audience. If none of them prefer video, why bother? You won’t get much mileage out of what you produce without a fundamental understanding of your audience’s preferences pegged down.
5 – What channels will you utilize?
Whatever content formats you decide upon, the next key question involves choosing the channels for distribution—of which there are many. Take a video, for example. You can host it on your website or on your own YouTube channel, and you can distribute it via additional channels like social media. The answer here is again determined by where your audience is. Many B2B marketing teams swear by LinkedIn for their B2B audience, for instance, but if your own audience doesn’t use LinkedIn, why go there?
6 – Who does what, when, where, and how?
Finally, you should then shift your focus to your organization. Key to a strong B2B content strategy is know who are responsible for its production, distribution, and monitoring. These bits will help you track accountability for the success of your content strategy. Part of this question should also include consideration of your calendar for distribution and any tools that you or your team might need to get the job done.
7 Steps from Start to Finish
Already answered all six questions? Fantastic. Now you’re ready to take your answers and walk step-by-step towards a strong B2B content strategy.
1 – List your goals.
Goals focus your efforts on very specific, desirable outcomes. While many people shy away from this step, it’s crucial not just in keeping your content efforts on track, it will also serve as a measuring stick against which your content strategy can be reviewed and improved down the line. Moreover, the goals you set can provide motivation to the teams working to attain them. Of course, you need to steer away from vague, general goals. When you list yours down, make them specific, measurable, achievable, and timely.
2 – Build a buyer persona.
If you answered the very first question above, you’re well on your way to building your buyer persona. This is actually a fictional exemplar that brings together all the most common traits, characteristics, personalities, and inclinations of your audience. The more detailed you make your persona, the more specific your content will be in terms of tone, approach, materials, etc. Of course, you should bear in mind that you buyer persona—or personas as the case may be—will evolve over time, but you should have a basic framework to start with that can be changed as needed.
3 – Run a content audit.
An audit serves two purposes. First, it allows you to gauge the effectiveness of any bit of content you’ve put out. Second, it lets you look at older content to find what can be repurposed, improved, or even combines. If you’re just starting out, you might not have any old material to review, but you can certainly start off on the right foot and look into the analytics of what content you put out. Audits are a crucial step as they help gauge the degree to which your content is aiding your efforts towards your goals.
4 – Have a system in place.
Answered the last question above? Here’s where that comes into play. It’s important that you create a clear organizational chart of your content team to determine who is responsible for creation, distribution, and performance monitoring. You also need to determine if what kind of content management system you need to ensure efficient distribution. Finally, part of the system is the calendar that, again, governs and dictates how content creation, distribution, and monitoring is carried out. Spare no time or effort to make sure this step is done clearly and comprehensively.
5 – Research content ideas.
One efficient way to approach content strategy is to see what specific topics and formats have been working for others in your industry. While there’s much to be said about blazing new trails, it never hurts to ride trends that are popular especially if they divert traffic to you and what you have to offer. Simple Google searches of keywords relevant to your business will throw up a lot of content ideas while there are also dedicated tools out there that refine the process of research for a price.
6 – Create your content.
Even if you’re riding on an already existing trend or are piggy backing on an idea already out there, you can differentiate yourself in the format you use to deliver your messaging. Articles might be the most common, but you would be wise to consider videos, infographics, case studies, whitepapers, and more. If you’ve created your buyer persona well and did the research, you’ll be able to determine which formats are popular among your audience. This way you don’t waste time on formats that are going to be ignored.
7 – Distribute your content.
Lastly, you need to determine the best channels with which to distribute the content you created. As was mentioned earlier, go where your audience is. You might also consider using content syndication as a means of distribution. This channel has the benefit of placing your content in front of people who actually are interested or even need the content that you have to offer. The key is to pick the right platform for syndication—as these can give you key engagement statistics that let you accurately gauge interest.
Keep the cycle going!
What to do when you complete all 7 steps? Go back to the start for a review and do everything all over again—with key improvements implemented to ensure you make the most of your content strategy. It helps, by the way, to also work with a leads list that is verified and vetted to match what you’re looking for. It puts you at an advantage from the get-go and lets you navigate the steps more fluidly and efficiently.
At Internal Results, we can get you that leads list—drawn from our own database of 60M+ contacts in all industries, across countries the world over. We even provide you with look-alike lists that expand who you can reach out to. Better, we offer content syndication that provides critical actionable engagement data so you save time, money, and effort. Tell us what you need, who you’re looking for, and we’ll find the right people.