It’s one of the top 100 questions that marketers ask about content marketing: how to formulate a strategy?
The good news is: marketers who write down their content marketing strategy are 4 times more successful than those who don’t, says Joe Pulizzi.
The bad news is, most marketers lack a written content marketing strategy. Content Marketing Institute (CMI) research shows that only 37% of B2B marketers and 38% of B2C marketers have written a strategy — comparable with past years.
Here’s how you can create a content marketing strategy in 4 to 8 hours
Follow the step-by-step formula below to create a content marketing strategy that works, gains buy-in, and starts pulling you ahead of competitors who lack a strategy.
Use our free template to get your content marketing strategy on the right track. Here’s a 1-Page Content Marketing Strategy Template PDF you can download.
If you already have written down your content marketing strategy, congratulations! These pointers will help you sharpen your strategy.
Keep content marketing strategy concise – fit it on one page
A one-page content marketing strategy fits into people’s short attention spans.
If your marketing department creates a 3-inch thick binder of marketing strategies once a year, your CEO, CMO, internal clients, agencies, freelancers and colleagues probably ignore it.
That’s because big fat binders are not user-friendly, they’re too hard to navigate, and they’re too time-consuming to use day to day.
People pay attention to a one-page strategy
A one-page content marketing strategy is friendly, straightforward, clear and useful. With a one-page strategy, you can quickly find the answers you’re looking for.
A one-page strategy helps you:
- Crystalize your content marketing strategy
- Gain buy-in more quickly from executives or clients
- Keep content producers strategically aligned.
Start with your organization’s top 3 objectives
To create a content marketing strategy on one page, first focus on what your company, association, or nonprofit needs to accomplish over the next year.
Often, marketers don’t know what the company’s or CEO’s top 3 objectives are. In content marketing workshops, I hear, “I don’t know what the CEO’s objectives are.”
That’s a problem because executives expect marketers to be businesspeople first and marketers second. One of the best ways to show your business acumen is to know your company’s objectives.
Find out your company’s objectives and goals – here’s how
Be curious. Ask about the company’s top 3 objectives online, in Town Halls or employee meetings.
Read the company’s internal and external documents such as the marketing plan and annual report to shareholders (in publicly traded companies). Research the company’s:
- Overarching growth strategies
- Revenue growth goals (as a percent or dollar increase over last year)
- Profit growth goals (as a percent or dollar increase over last year)
- Initiatives to achieve growth (such as new product launches, add-on sales to existing customers, new markets, acquisitions, or new customers).
These business-level elements appear in your one-page content marketing strategy as:
What qualitative results must the company accomplish over the next year? Focus on 2 or 3 objectives.
How will progress toward each objective be measured quantitatively? Focus on 2 or 3 goals that measure quantitative progress towards each objective.
Work with mid-level managers to sketch out a content marketing strategy
How will content marketing help achieve the company’s objectives and goals? You may find some objectives content marketing can support, and others it can’t.
Work with marketing, sales, and product managers to flesh out your strategy. What marketing needs to deliver appears in your plan as:
What will the content marketing function deliver qualitatively during the next year? For example:
- Introduce a new product.
- Increase awareness.
- Dramatize your solution’s differentiation.
- Create a better customer experience.
- Offer more social proof.
How will marketing measure the achievement of content marketing strategies? For example:
- Increase awareness by X percent.
- Deliver specified number of marketing-qualified leads to sales.
- Contribute a certain dollar amount to the sales pipeline from qualified leads.
- Produce a certain amount of revenue.
Yes, marketing should have revenue goals to meet. Don’t shy away from them.
Why? Because revenue and sales quotas help you demonstrate the clear value of content marketing activities. Measure the sales pipeline, customers won, and revenue generated – the metrics executives care about most.
Align your strategy with input from executives
Now that you have the first 4 parts of the content marketing strategy – objectives, goals, strategies, and metrics (OGSM) – present a strategy draft to executives and middle managers.
Walk through the strategy step by step. Help people connect the dots through a face-to-face discussion.
Be open to questions and input. Be brief. Be wise – narrow the scope of discussion to avoid misunderstandings or setbacks. This input will help you sharpen the strategy.
No matter what, keep the strategy short enough to fit on one page.
In these discussions, you’ll see that that executives care most about the customer and financial results. As one CEO put it, “When you come into my office, I see either a penny of expense or a penny of profit on your forehead.”
Executives want to know:
- Content marketing costs
- Revenue to be generated by when
- Profit produced based on company or product margins
- Targeted return on marketing investment for content marketing.
Here are 10 ways to think through how to measure your results from content marketing.
Work toward a straightforward understanding with your executives – a simple and scalable marketing model.
For instance, I reached this understanding with a CFO: For every $3 in revenue generated by marketing, the company could spend an additional $1 on marketing. The more revenue marketing generated, the more its budget would grow.
Align content creators around the strategy
Pin the agreed-on one-page content marketing strategy above your computer screen. Encourage your team and colleagues to do the same.
Use your strategy as a litmus test for ideas. Let it simplify decisions about which content to move forward.
Direct agencies, freelancers, reporters, writers, digital, and social experts to work from the one-page content marketing strategy. People are far likelier to use a one-page strategy day to day than a dusty 3-inch binder.
Our content marketing strategy template fits on one side of 8 1/2″-by-11” or A4 printer paper. If you need more space, use legal-sized or an 11- by 17-inch paper.
To maximize your strategy’s impact and usefulness, it’s crucial to keep your strategy on one page so it’s easy to share.
Example of a One-Page Content Marketing Strategy
- Increase revenue from product X over the next 12 months.
- Position this disruptive new product as a superior alternative to [competitor’s product].
- Increase revenue by X% to $XXX,XXX in 2017.
- Build buyer awareness to XX%.
- Become the best source of information on (customer problems or questions).
- Deliver useful information and thought-provoking insights.
- Educate buyers on: how to address key business challenges and how to improve user experiences.
- Increase website traffic +XX% year over year
- Add to the sales pipeline X,XXX marketing-qualified leads per year, including $Y million in pending deals
- Generate revenue of $X million.
Who we serve
Plug in your buyer personas and insights on buyers
What’s in it for buyers?
Benefits and ideas to further buyers’ success
Calls to action
Make a small ask of buyers, at first.
Once they say yes to a small ask – a soft conversion – they’re much likelier to say yes to a big ask – a hard conversion. That’s due to the consistency principle, people’s natural desire to stay consistent.
Soft conversion: Watch a video. Or read a blog, magazine article, or white paper.
Hard conversion: Read a gated white paper, sign up for a webinar, or qualify at a trade show or event.
A one-page content marketing strategy makes you 4 times more successful
Adapt the one-page content marketing strategy template to suit your needs. Include the relevant elements that help you gain executive support and align content creators.
To fulfill its purpose and potential, make your content marketing strategy fit on one page. Once your content marketing strategy becomes widely known and used, you’ll become even more successful.
As a marketing change agent, I consult with clients, lead content marketing workshops for the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), and write the weekly Simplify Marketing blog.
With experience from Fortune 500 companies such as AT&T, RR Donnelley and Tellabs, I've been named:
- Content Marketer of the Year by the Content Marketing Institute.
- Best Marketer by BtoB magazine.
- A B-to-B CMO to watch by Fierce CMO.