How to Create a Content Strategy:  6-Step Cheat Sheet

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You’ve heard it said before, content is king. Well, content strategy is queen. Content strategy has become a significant focus in the marketing arena, and for a good reason. If you want your content marketing efforts to pay off, a content strategy is a must.

A well-planned content strategy helps businesses create content that moves the target audience along the customer journey, while at the same time providing value, increasing engagement, and ultimately boosting sales.

Creating content isn’t always easy, which is why we created this 6-step content strategy cheat sheet to help you get started with your content creation process!

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What is Content Strategy?

Content strategy is the process of creating and managing content to meet business goals. This can include developing content types, planning how and when content will be published, and setting metrics to track success.

It would be best to tailor a content strategy to your specific business and target audience. Hence, it’s essential to take the time to understand your needs and content preferences.

It’s crucial to remember that content marketing is a business investment. It takes time, money, and (sometimes) additional personnel. Like with any investment, you’ll need to link your marketing strategy to it’s outcomes. That means establishing clear objectives and using key performance indicators (KPIs) to see whether you’re achieving your business goals..

6 Steps to a Winning Content Strategy
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Key Goals of Content Strategy

There are three main goals that content strategy aims to achieve:

  • Meet Organizational Goals: Content strategies should be created with the company’s overall business objectives, not just content creation alone. Your content will need to align with your organization’s values and message,  as well as your content goals.
  • Meet Audience Needs: Not only should content align with organizational goals, but it must also meet the needs of your target audience. To do this, you’ll need to research and understand what content is currently being consumed by your audience, as well their preferences in content delivery (i.e., video or blog post content).
  • Increase Traffic & Conversions: It’s crucial to track content performance to identify what content is working and how to adjust your strategy accordingly. For example, if a particular blog post has generated more traffic than others, this may mean it should be republished or an additional article created in its place based on popular demand.
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You can’t expect to nail your content strategy right away. It takes time to find the right mix of information and streamlining processes to find the sweet spot that will pay off long-term.

Listen to your customers to improve your content marketing strategy 

It’s imperative you create valuable content that engages your potential customers. 

One of the best ways to improve your content marketing strategy is by listening to your existing customers. Pay attention to what they are saying on social media and in comment sections.

What do they consider quality content?

What content do they not like?

What topics are they interested in?

Are you using the right words to convey your ideas? For example, have you checked search engines, Google Analytics, search volume, etc. or are you using jargon that bewilders the intended audience?

Take this feedback and use it to produce content that your audience will love.

Once you know what content your audience is interested in, it’s time to generate content that reflects the feedback you’ve received and meets their needs. Don’t just go for quantity; quality matters too-and it won’t be easy! You’ll need to research what topics are popular with your target market, then use your content to provide value.

Take a content audit at least once per year to see where you can improve upon your existing content marketing strategy. It’s important to look back on what content has been successful and keep producing more of it, while also throwing out the stuff that is not working in favor of new content ideas! 

Creating Content for Brand Awareness and Customer Success

You have to consider how content can help your business grow in the content strategy. One of the most effective ways content marketing does this is through brand awareness and customer success. As a result, these two areas become main focal points for your company’s content production.

According to Content Marketing Institute, brand awareness is defined as “the extent to which a potential customer knows about your company and what it does.”

To increase brand awareness, the content created must accurately represent your business. You should place this content in an environment that will reach the right people.

The Content Marketing Institute also recommends a social media content strategy, as social media is one of the main channels to distribute content.

Customer success, on the other hand, is defined as “the degree to which a customer achieves the desired outcomes from using your product or service.”

As content creators, it’s crucial that we not only focus on acquiring new customers but also helping your current customers be successful. You can do this by producing content that is helpful and relevant to them.

Your company should adopt a content strategy framework for brand awareness and customer success to maximize your business’s potential with content marketing. It’s not an easy process, but it’s worth it in the end.

Your 6-Step Cheat Sheet for a Successful Content Strategy

Now that you understand the basics of content strategy, it’s time to put it into practice! Check out our cheatsheet below for a step-by-step guide on how to create your very own solid content strategy.

woman with tattoos taking photos
For some of you, the first, most important step: get started. It’s easy to put off your content goals because it feels uncomfortable to write or record video or share anything about you or your business. Find the thing that you love, start small, and set up bigger goals later.

1. Define your goals

Before you can start generating content, you first need to define your organization’s goals and objectives. What do you want to achieve with your content marketing? Is it to increase brand awareness, drive website traffic, or generate leads? Once you know what you’re trying to accomplish, you can develop content that is tailored to meet those specific goals.

It’s important to remember that content marketing is not a one-time event. You need to have an updated and well-defined content strategy to ensure you are achieving your desired results.

The best way to start? Sit down with your content teams and hash out what you want to achieve. Once you have a good understanding of your goals, you can start developing content that will help you reach them.

If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to setting your content marketing goals, try using the SMART goal approach:

  • Specific: Be clear and concise in what you want to achieve
  • Measurable: Set a target so you can track and measure your progress
  • Achievable: Make sure your goals are realistic and achievable
  • Relevant: Ensure your goals are relevant to your business and audience
  • Timely: Have a timeframe in mind for when you want to achieve your goal

Here are a few examples of goals that a sound content strategy may address:

  • Growing awareness of your products
  • Building repeat customers and loyalty
  • Supporting customers
  • Nurturing leads into conversions
  • Changing how people’s ideologies about something
  • Attracting and retaining employees
  • Encouraging free trial signups
  • Improving brand perception
  • Increasing customer retention

Keep in mind that content marketing is a long-term commitment. It may take some time to see results, so make sure you have the resources and patience to continuously develop your strategy over an extended period of time. You’ll also need to factor content into your overall business plan as well as keep content marketing in mind when you are making other decisions for your business.

These content-marketing goals should align with the overall mission of your company, which can be determined by answering questions like:

  • Why do we exist?
  • What is our purpose? What’s important to us? Why does it matter to others?
  • Who are our target customers?
  • What do we want them to think or feel about us?

Once you have a good understanding of your company’s goals, it will be much easier to create content that resonates with your audience and helps you achieve those goals.

2. Know your audience

Now that you’ve defined your content strategy goals, it’s time to identify who your audience is. Knowing who they are will help guide the content creation process and ensure your content reaches its intended target.

The first step in understanding your audience is conducting market research. You can do this by studying what content they’re currently consuming, what content is trending, and who they follow on social media platforms.

Once you know which channels your audience uses to obtain content, it will be easier to reach them through the right mediums. For example, if your audience prefers LinkedIn over Facebook, create content that’s geared towards professionals in their industry instead of sharing content about company news and events. 

You can also create buyer personas to help better understand your target audience. A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer, including their demographics, interests, and pain points. This allows you to tailor content specifically for them, making the overall content experience more relevant and helpful.

If you’re having trouble identifying your ideal buyer, a key piece of your content strategy will be to find and create relevant content, for example:

  • A home builder’s content strategy might include how people can save money on buying or renting a new house, questions to ask your prospective home builder, and behind-the-scenes videos of the home building process.
  • A content strategy for an accounting firm could include easy steps to track your finances, how to prepare documents for your accountant, or how to find the best accountant for your business.
  • A restaurant’s content strategy needs to be a little more fluid and flexible due to the nature of the work. For example, creating a documented content strategy around when (and where) to take photographs of plated dishes, how to prepare certain dishes, and what goes on inside a working kitchen.

Once you know your audience, it’ll be easier for you to publish content that speaks directly to them. Not only will the content itself feel relevant and valuable, but it will also drive better results in terms of engagement and conversions. 

3. Estimate your investment

Content marketing is a long-term investment, and as with any other investment, you need to estimate how much money you’re willing to put in.

Before you start developing content, take some time to figure out your marketing budget. This will help guide the rest of your content strategy and make sure all content created aligns with your content and overall goals.

If you don’t have a budget to work with, try using the cost per impression approach:

  • Estimate how many impressions (potential eyeballs) will see your content each month
  • Determine what platform(s) you’ll be using for content distribution and how much traffic these platforms get each month
  • Multiply the number of impressions by the platform cost per thousand impressions (CPM) to get an estimate for content distribution costs

Doing this will give you a rough estimate of how much money you’ll need to spend on content marketing each month. Keep in mind that this is just a starting point, and your actual costs may vary depending on the content you create and how it’s distributed.

Once you have a general idea of your budget, use it to help shape content goals and strategies that fit within your constraints. You may need to adjust some content ideas or distribution methods to stay within budget, but remember that everything starts with having a plan.

4. Examine your competition

It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your competition, and content marketing is no exception.

When it comes to content strategy, examining your competition can help you:

  • Identify what content is working well for them
  • Determine what topics they’re not covering that you could explore
  • See which distribution methods they’re using and how to improve upon them
  • Gain insight on content topics your audience might find interesting during content ideation phases

Here are a few ways you can keep an eye on your competition:

  • Use tools like BuzzSumo, which shows you the most popular content for any topic or competitor. You can also use this tool to find content ideas and see how content performs on specific platforms.
  • Check out content calendars for competitors or similar brands in your industry.
  • Read what they’re sharing on social media (be sure not to spam them with self-promotion, though).

Once you’ve looked at some of your competition’s content, take some time to brainstorm content ideas that you think your audience would find valuable. This can help you develop content topics even if your competition isn’t covering them.

Remember, content marketing is all about creating value for your audience, so don’t be afraid to explore new territory!

Asian woman creating content on her phone
If no one has told you already, your content doesn’t need to be fancy or professionally produced. In fact, some of the best content is off-the-cuff, behind-the-scenes information your customers are dying to hear you share.

5. Look for your unique position or resources

When it comes to content marketing, you want to find a unique position or resources that you can use to your advantage.

Maybe you have a team of experts who can write high-quality content on a wide variety of topics. Perhaps you have access to data and statistics that would be valuable to your audience. Or maybe you’re just really good at creating visuals that capture people’s attention.

No matter what it is, find a way to make your content stand out. This could mean focusing on specific topics, using different distribution methods, or simply putting a new spin on old content ideas.

Don’t be afraid to experiment until you find something that works for you. Just make sure you’re always tracking metrics to see what content is performing best and how to improve the content in the future.

6. Successful Content Marketing Strategy: Measure results

The content marketing strategy you create should be driven by the goals and content ideas that fit within your budget. This means it’s important to measure results so you can see how content is performing, where it needs improvement, and what content performs best for specific audiences.

Use tools like Google Analytics to measure website traffic, social media analytics to track engagement, and content marketing platforms to see how content is being shared.

Then use this data to adjust your content strategy as needed. If a content idea isn’t working, try something else. If a distribution method isn’t getting the results you want, switch it up. And if the content is performing well, keep doing what you’re doing!

No matter how your content performs, make sure to always look for ways to improve it. Content marketing should be a continuous process of creation and iteration that will continue throughout your business’s lifetime, so don’t feel like you have to get everything right the first time around.

Conclusion: Putting Content Strategy Pieces Together

With all this information in mind, you can now create a content strategy for your business. But don’t hesitate to contact us if you need help! We’re here to support and guide you on the journey of creating an effective content plan that will increase brand awareness, build trust with potential customers, and drive more sales.

Subscribe so we can keep in touch about our latest blog posts or webinars for creative entrepreneurs like yourself, who are looking for guidance when it comes to building their own creative marketing plans!

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