For many eager (and swamped) content marketers, it’s tempting to bypass the content strategy phase of content marketing and head straight for the keyboard or camera to start producing.

But what is content without strategy? As an executive, you don’t want words and visuals published about or by your company to merely exist. You want every character and pixel to drive your business towards its goals.

I know what you’re thinking. Strategy takes time that you just don’t have. However, content strategies don’t need to be complicated or lengthy. Read on for 10 proven tips that will help you create a content strategy that works for your business.

1. Do your research

Data leads to good business decisions. If you’re not tracking the performance of your content, monitoring market trends, and keeping an eye on the competition, start now to save yourself from missteps later.

Data can provide insights into the strengths and weaknesses of your existing content, opportunities for your company to stand out from the competition and fill content gaps, and any market or competitor threats that should be considered in your strategy.

2. Define your content  strategy goals

Strong content supports the objectives of your company, not just your marketing department. Keep your company’s strategic objectives front-of-mind when determining the desired outcomes of your content strategy. Stay focused, especially If you have a small team and limited resources. Prioritize and cut goals that fall out of scope.

3. Match your goals with key performance indicators

Every goal should have a key performance indicator (KPIs) attached to it. These are the metrics that determine whether you achieve, exceed, or fall short of your goals. Use SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely) principles to write them. They should be easy to communicate and provide useful baseline data for future strategies.

4. Create Buyer Personas

Who is your target audience? How do they consume information? Where and when do they consume it? What makes them tick? The answers to these questions will help you determine what kind of content you produce, where you publish it, how you distribute it, and what you talk about. Share these buyer personas (also known as audience profiles) with your team, and instruct them to keep these profiles front-of-mind when crafting content.

5. Determine What Topics to Cover

It’s time to dive into the meat and potatoes of your strategy–the content itself. The best topics appeal to your target audience, fulfill their needs, and compel them to take actions that support your goals. When brainstorming topics, consider the following: What are the most commonly asked questions received by your customer support team? What are the greatest barriers customers face in the buying process? What is new in your industry that your customers should know about? Brainstorm a long list of compelling topics to ensure you are never short on content.

6. Determine what format your content will take

When it comes to content presentation, you have many options. Long-form content like white papers, e-books, and case studies are among some of the most valuable content B2B buyers consult to help them make decisions. Videos and infographics are great for telling visual stories quickly. Press releases share company news with the media. Q&As and how-to blog posts provide practical and easy-to-digest information. Each format serves a different purpose and appeals to a specific audience at a particular time in their buyer journey. Leverage your audience profiles and past performance metrics to determine which formats are most effective.

7. Select high-quality content creators

Conduct  an audit of your internal resources. Does your team have the time, knowledge, and skills to create the content you need? Don’t forget to look beyond your marketing department. Executives, researchers and subject matter experts throughout your company are a great source of information. Get them onboard by explaining how your strategy will help the company reach its targets, and ask them to contribute a blog post or participate in an interview with one of your writers.

Don’t stop there. Participation from third-party experts and customer or influencer endorsements speaks volumes for your business. Consider asking a satisfied customer to share how they use your product or service in a blog or social media post.

8. Choose your distribution channels

Will your white paper be published on your website only or will it be reproduced in an industry journal? Will your video be shared on YouTube, social media, your website, at trade shows, in meetings, or all of the above? Refer back to your goals, KPIs and audience profiles to determine the most strategic channels to distribute your content. The key? Go where your audience goes.

9. Decide how you will promote your content

Once you’ve published your content, your work is not over. Promotion is a key part of your content strategy that ensures every piece of content has maximum exposure with your target audience. Strategic cross-promotion across multiple channels (for example, an e-newsletter, social media, and third-party publishers) attracts more eyeballs.

10. Monitor and track

Finally, ensure your content is trackable and the outcomes are measurable. Leverage web and social media analytics to show the effectiveness of your content. You will thank yourself when it’s time to evaluate your KPIs.

Your content strategy is a living document that should contain many iterations and updates. Revisit your strategy every few weeks and months. Share it with your team to ensure everyone is aligned on goals and KPIs. If your team is not reaching the goals outlined in the strategy,  let your KPIs be your guide and make intelligent adjustments based on what the data is telling you.

Need advice on your content strategy or its execution? We’re here to help! Send us an email and let’s chat.