how to start a content strategy - Woman weighed down by 4 3-inch binders on her head

“How should you start a content strategy?”

How to start a content strategy.

This timely question, one of the Top 100 Questions on content marketing, comes from Armenta Gallon, a marketing manager at First Midwest Bank.

In the fourth quarter, marketers work hard to align internal clients, executives and their own teams around a coherent content marketing strategy for the year ahead.

The truth is, aligning your company around a content marketing strategy can be a struggle. Why?

We see clients suffering from:

  • A lack of internal understanding about what content marketing is, sometimes even inside Marketing.
  • The absence of a clear mission and role for content marketing on a brand.
  • A false expectation that you need a 3-inch-thick binder to create a solid strategy.

In fact, co-creating a 1-page content marketing strategy is the best way to get your company all on the same page. Gaining alignment now will make it easier for you to run content marketing next year – since you go into the year with an agreed-on plan.

1. Include everyone in a big-tent workshop

How should you start a content strategy? A test and learn environmental calls for a big tent
Build a big tent to co-create a mission and strategy for content marketing.

Convene all your company’s key players to co-create your content marketing mission and strategy.

When you take this big-tent approach to marketing mission and strategy, include everyone. Those who will have a say in the marketing from the get-go – product managers, sales, R&D, even executives.

Yes, this approach feels tougher – at first. But by listening to others’ input, and enabling people to see their thumbprints on the strategy, you save a tremendous amount of time. Time that otherwise will be wasted next year with second-guessing and endless reviewing.

2. Co-create your content marketing mission

With your company’s brainpower convened, first write one sentence. It’s your content marketing mission, which answers 5 key questions:

  • Who is the source of content?
  • What types of content does the source provide?
  • Who is the content audience
  • What topics will you cover?
  • What’s in it for them?

Here’s how to create your content marketing mission statement – including our free template.

Writing down your content marketing mission will leapfrog you ahead of most competitors. How so? Research from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) finds that only 1 in 5 marketers has written a content mission statement.

Without a clear mission, you can’t write a clear strategy. So write your mission first.

3. Co-create your content marketing strategy

Now, write your strategy. For years, CMI studies have shown that a written content marketing strategy correlates with success.

The most successful content marketers are likeliest to have a written strategy. The least successful are least likely to write a strategy, as you see below.

Strategy correlates with success
Marketers with a written strategy outperform those without a strategy.

Lack of written content strategy

The lack of a written strategy correlates with failure. CMI found over half of B2B marketers who were unsuccessful with content pointed to strategy problems.

What drives content failures
Strategy issues are the #2 reason for the failure of content, B2B marketers said.

The most encouraging finding in years is that more B2B marketers are now writing their content marketing strategies. In fact, 43% of B2B marketers have written a strategy – an all-time high since CMI started doing its surveys.

A record-high 43% of B2B marketers now have written a content strategy.;

Benefits of a written content strategy

Marketers gain many benefits from a written strategy. Alignment, focus on priorities, easier to determine content types.  Better accountability and resource utilization, and clarity about audiences and metrics. Here are the benefits B2C marketers gain from writing down the strategy:

All these benefits accrue to marketers who write down the strategy.

Yet, unfortunately, only 1 out of 3 B2C marketers has a written strategy, shows a 2020 CMI study. Worse, this number hasn’t budged for years.

B2B marketers gain similar benefits from a written content marketing strategy.

Strategy? You can do it! Use our free 1-Page Content Marketing Strategy Template to fit everything you need on one page.

1-page content marketing strategy template
Here’s a free 1-page content marketing strategy template for you.

You can write a strategy by yourself, but it’s far better to co-create your strategy with a team in a workshop. For a facilitator to make the workshop go smoothly, contact us.

With your written 1-page strategy, your VP, CMO, executives and even your CEO will actually take the time to read and engage with your content marketing strategy. That’s how a 1-page strategy helps you align marketing with the needs of the business.

How to start a content strategy

Tape your 1-page strategy above your screen so it guides day-to-day decisions. Here’s my CMI blog on how to create your 1-page content marketing strategy.

Need help? Reach us here.

“How should you start a content strategy?” is one of marketers’ Top 100 Questions on Content Marketing. Here are the answers.

This is one of marketers’ Top 100 Questions about content marketing. Here are the answers.