Creating A Content Strategy: How To Make Sure You’re Not Wasting Your Time With The Wrong Content

Creating a content strategy is the single fastest way to assure that your content isn’t a waste of time.

Many small businesses don’t see content marketing as a valuable investment because they simply don’t understand where they’re trying to go with it.

Aimless content often gets limited results, reinforcing this belief quickly and firmly.

However, if you want to see the power of content marketing for your small business, creating a content strategy with goals, a target audience, and all the other factors that make content successful will change your mind.

If you’re ready to quit wasting your time on content that gets your brand nowhere, read on.

I’ve got the information you need.

Creating A Content Strategy Isn’t A Small Undertaking

Look, for many small business owners, adding more to their plate is a nightmare.

Their time is often stretched too far as it is.

If you feel like you’re already strapped for time and can’t add any more to your plate, you may want to consider outsourcing your content strategy and creation.

Outsourcing your content strategy and creation is a great way to free up your time while still reaping the benefits of content marketing. Click To Tweet

That’s going to free up time for you to handle the rest of your business.

Creating a content strategy is paramount to your brand’s success, as the world revolves around content marketing.

And, with a great content agency at your disposal, you can have a successful content strategy while simultaneously freeing your time.

But if outsourcing isn’t an option and you’re ready to attack your content, most small business owners can handle creating a content strategy.

These Questions Will Help In Creating A Content Strategy

A great content strategy covers all the bases.

If you’ve developed one that will help you grow, you should be able to answer a few basic questions about it.

Creating a content strategy by developing the answers to those questions assures you have all your bases covered.

They’re a starting point and a guide map to get you where you want to go.

Some will take extra effort to answer, as they require information you may have never considered.

But by answering all these questions as thoroughly as possible your content strategy has the best chances of success.

Here are the questions you need to answer while creating a content strategy that works.

What Do You Want Your Content To Accomplish?

When creating a content strategy, the first question you need to answer is that of your goals.

The failure to do so is one of the biggest mistakes marketers make before they dig into producing content.

As a result, their content becomes a mixed bag of ideas with no clear direction and yield mixed results.

Any success they have is immeasurable and unrepeatable because it happened without a clear understanding as to why.

Working like that doesn’t create the long-term success you need.

Before you begin anything else, know what you want to get out of your content marketing, so you have something to guide every other decision.

With a clear direction, you’ll make better decisions about the strategy as a whole.

That allows you to get the most possible from your content.

You’ll have an understanding of what worked, why it worked, and how to duplicate that success in the future.

By creating a content strategy with a clear direction, you can guide it to success easily.

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Do You Already Have Existing Content?

One major thing to consider when creating a content strategy is whether you’ve already been producing content.

Many businesses and marketers produce content on the advice that they’re supposed to, but they don’t have any direction for it.

That results in a lot of loose content that may or may not be relevant to the strategy you’re developing now.

It’s time for a content audit.

Take stock of whatever content you’ve already created, be it blogs, social content, videos on YouTube, podcasts, or anything else you’ve been working with.

See what you have that might work for your new content strategy and find out what’s already getting attention for your brand.

Anything that’s mostly ignored can go.

If you have existing content that your target audience is responding well to, assemble it and study it.

Use that successful content to not only inform your new strategy but also to elevate it.

This content can be combined, cut, manipulated, and repurposed into other formats to add additional content to your strategy.

Treating all your content as a source for future content is a great way to make sure you’ve always got something for your audience.

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Who Are You Creating Content For?

I want you to think about something for a minute.

If you already have existing content, think about the audience that’s reading your content.

Do those people match your target audience?

Not only is that a question you should know the answer to but it’s also one you should respond affirmatively to.

Any other answer means you have some work to do.

Producing content for the right audience is critical to making sure your content helps you meet your goals.

Your target audience, or audiences in some cases, must guide the content you create.

They will help you decide what topics to cover as well as where to produce content.

And that means you need to take the time to research who you’re producing content for.

Audience research isn’t something you should be unfamiliar with if you’ve studied creating a content strategy before.

It’s about understanding what matters to that audience and how they get their questions answered.

Where do they go to get the information they need?

Learn as much as you can about them so you can direct your content towards them successfully.

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What Problem Does Your Audience Have?

You know your product and service well.

It should address a pain point that your target market has.

That’s a hallmark of a viable product.

In the same thread, your content should educate and guide your audience through the early phases of identifying and addressing that pain point.

Creating a content strategy with a plan in place to do that is essential to properly guide the content and assure its success.

At the same time, your content has to address the clients whose pain points you’re already doing something about.

Reinforcing the solutions your product or service provides as the right answers, your content needs to show your clients they’ve made the right choice.

And, more importantly, your content must help them better understand how to take advantage of your offering to get the most from it.

By understanding their pain points and how your content relates to them you produce content that builds more trust and stronger loyalties.

What better way to meet your goals?

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How Is Your Brand Different?

Chances are your brand isn’t the only one on the market that offers a similar product or service.

Your customers already know that as they no doubt studied the available options before buying from you.

There was something different about the brand that made them choose you over your competition.

And, no, we’re not just talking about price.

It’s your job to find out what that unique selling proposition is so you can put it into your content.

If you’re creating a content strategy without knowing your USP, you’re setting yourself up for disaster.

A USP identifies why you’re worth buying from, and it’s at the core of what you’re trying to communicate through your content.

An offshoot of your USP is your unique knowledge and experience, which is what shows your audience they can listen to what you have to say.

Show them why they can listen to you and you’ll earn their trust.

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Is Your Competition Already Creating A Content Strategy?

There’s already a ton of content being created every day.

Tons of blogs, social media posts, and videos flood every industry imaginable.

That’s already a lot of noise that your content will have to break through to get to your audience.

But if your competition is already creating content as well you have a whole other hurdle.

You need to know what your competition is doing while you’re creating a content strategy.

Content your competition produces can inform your strategy with valuable data you’d otherwise have to earn over a longer period.

When your competition produces content that gains traction within your target audience, you know that you’ll need to use similar tactics, platforms, and formats.

If they’ve got failing content, you can learn what not to do.

And, depending on how much attention they’re getting, you can find out what you have to do to attract some of it.

Identifying where your competition lies is a valuable part of creating a content strategy that earns the results you want.

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What Kind Of Content Will Your Brand Produce?

Content can take many forms, as I identified before.

Blogs, infographics, images, videos, podcasts, and tons of other formats are available to reach your audience through.

When creating a content strategy, you’ve got to decide which formats work best for you, your message, your audience, and your budget.

Learning what content mix makes the most sense for you can help make your content better and save you a ton of time.

If you’re not sure, choose one or two to experiment with.

Find out how well they work for your strategy.

As you decide what works and what doesn’t along the way, adjust, and add new formats to find out how they might fit in.

Make sense of the content that works best for you so you’re not wasting time continually producing content that doesn’t work for you.

The more you know about the content that makes sense for your brand, the better outcome you’ll have.

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What Platforms Are You Already Using?

Together with the idea that you’re already creating content, it’s likely you’re already using certain content platforms.

From social networks to video platforms to blogs, you have had a modicum of experience with content channels and how your brand can use them.

Some of it may be successful, and some of it less so.

Learning from that experience and taking what works, you can begin to create a content strategy going forward.

If you have content platforms that you’ve already built an audience on, you’ll want to make sure those stay a part of your strategy.

You’ll also need to adjust how you approach those channels as your existing audience has an expectation from them.

The channels you’ve had little success with are like a blank canvas, ready for you to shape into your new strategy.

Knowing where you stand allows you to create a content strategy more efficiently going forward.

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Where Is Your Content Going To Go?

Now that you know where you’re at it’s time to decide where you’re going.

You have your content formats planned, the core of your messages ready, and lessons that inform you going forward.

It’s time to decide where your content will be distributed.

Looking at the content formats you want to use, decide what content channels would best support each.

Using the information you gained from your competition and your previous content experience, decide which of those channels makes the most sense for your brand.

Then, create a content strategy that addresses the platforms you’re going to use.

Some content channels are universal, like blogs, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Others are more specific to your content and company, like podcasts, TikTok, or SlideShare.

Learn about the strengths each platform has for your industry and ability, then choose the ones that make the most sense to reach your audience.

Without distribution, your content won’t get seen.

Choose your channels wisely.

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How Will You Manage Your Content?

By now you likely feel like creating a content strategy is adding a ton of work to your plate.

Figuring out how to create and publish all that content can be overwhelming, after all.

But it’s manageable if you take the time to organize it.

Decide who will create what, where it will go, and when it will go live.

Keeping all that straight requires a little tool known as a content calendar.

You can format one of these however you want, but it helps to identify all the content, authors, platforms, and due dates.

And when you plan your calendar around topics you want to cover, you can more readily organize your message to prove your company is an authority in your field.

Delivering content to your audience in a way that proves what you know helps them know they can trust your brand to solve their problems.

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How Much Can You Invest Into Creating A Content Strategy?

Budgets are a tricky aspect of marketing for small businesses.

Most small businesses can’t afford to spend money that doesn’t earn them something back.

And, because so much of marketing seems ambiguous to small business owners, they’re afraid to spend.

However, creating a content strategy that works means creating a budget for it that makes sense.

On average, small businesses spend about 10% of their total revenue on marketing, and only about 26% of that on content.

Consider how your content budget compares to that average.

Knowing that content marketing often earns more revenue for less expense, is it worth investing more than that?

Every business is different, and therefore so is every marketing budget.

But if you’re looking to get the most for your money, you need to understand what you can afford to do so you can do it your best.

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What Metrics Will You Base Your Success On?

Now that you’ve got the bulk of your content strategy created, you need to decide what makes it successful.

Creating a content strategy without knowing the metrics you’ll use to measure it is as big a waste as producing content without a strategy.

Some common metrics used to determine success include:

  • Traffic, views, and shares to measure how well you’re growing awareness
  • Social media engagement to measure how well you’re shifting thinking
  • Site visitor conversions to measure how well your content draws in qualified leads

There are tons of markers you can use for success and tons of metrics to support them.

What’s important is the understanding that your content strategy works over the long-term and that your metrics will take time to grow.

But when you know the metrics to watch, you have a much easier time measuring the progress you’re making.

That’s going to help you make changes earlier to avoid disaster and improve your results.

By seeing trends early and correcting them once you see them, you can eliminate more wasted time.

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Creating A Content Strategy Doesn’t Have To Be Hard

The questions I’ve shared and the reasons for them will help you stay on the right path.

If you focus on answering them while creating a content strategy, you’ll be ready to help your brand get found with ease.

Once you’ve answered them and understand how your content benefits from those answers, you’ll be ready to go.

Stick to the plan, focus on value, and watch the results of your effort grow.

Just like your business.

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Creating A Content Strategy: How To Make Sure You’re Not Wasting Your Time With The Wrong Content

by Michael McNew Read in 11 min